[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 6 (Wednesday, January 9, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 1742-1750]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00287]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 71

[Docket No. FAA-2011-1237; Airspace Docket No. 08-AWA-5]
RIN 2120-AA66


Amendment to Class B Airspace; Atlanta, GA

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This action modifies the Atlanta, GA, Class B airspace area to 
ensure the containment of large turbine-powered aircraft operating to 
and from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). 
The FAA is taking this action to enhance safety and reduce the 
potential for midair collision in the Atlanta, GA, terminal area.

DATES: Effective Date: 0901 UTC, March 7, 2013. The Director of the 
Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under 
1 CFR part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and 
publication of conforming amendments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Gallant, Airspace Policy and ATC 
Procedures Group, Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation 
Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; 
telephone: (202) 267-8783.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

History

    On February 3, 2012, the FAA published in the Federal Register a 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to modify the Atlanta, GA, Class B 
airspace area (77 FR 5429). Interested parties were invited to 
participate in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on 
the proposal. A total of 159 commenters responded to the NPRM. The FAA 
considered all comments received before making a determination on this 
final rule.

Discussion of Comments

    Of the 159 responses received, 135 concerned the airspace in the 
vicinity of Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK). All of these commenters 
opposed the Class B modification in the vicinity of PDK contending that 
it would result in lower flight paths for ATL arrivals, and PDK 
arrivals and departures, thus leading to various adverse impacts, such 
as: increased noise, increased air pollution and health problems, lower 
property values, detrimental effect on local businesses, decreased tax 
revenues due to lower property value and decreased commerce, inability 
to sell homes and decreased quality of life.
    The above perceived impacts appear to be based on the belief that 
the Class B change would lead to IFR flights operating at lower 
altitudes than they do today. This is incorrect. The Class B 
modifications, including those in the PDK area, are based on the need 
to contain IFR aircraft that are now operating below Class B airspace. 
It is important to note that existing IFR operating altitudes will not 
change.
    Noise concerns were a recurring theme in the PDK-related comments, 
in that the main concern was that lowering the floor of the Class B 
airspace would allow more aircraft to fly lower over residential areas. 
The vast majority of the noise experienced by these residents is caused 
by aircraft flying at or below 3,000 feet MSL during takeoff and/or 
landing operations at the PDK airport. Those aircraft will continue to 
fly at those altitudes regardless of any changes made in the Atlanta 
Class B airspace. In addition, an FAA study done in response to 
comments at the Informal Airspace Meetings, held in 2010, shows that 
almost 98 percent of the aircraft that fly in the vicinity of PDK are 
already operating below 5,000 feet MSL. Therefore, lowering the floor 
of the Class B airspace will not have an appreciable effect on the 
amount of noise experienced by the residents in neighborhoods 
surrounding PDK.
    Further, the FAA is not changing air traffic procedures. Where IFR 
aircraft fly today is where they will continue to fly after 
implementation of the Class B modification. This rule addresses the 
issue that these aircraft are currently operating at altitudes that are 
below the floor of the existing Class B airspace. In order to minimize 
the potential for midair collisions in the Atlanta terminal area, FAA 
directives require that large turbine powered aircraft arriving at and 
departing from the primary airport (in this case, ATL) be contained 
within Class B airspace. Since the routes and altitudes that ATL IFR 
arrivals and departures are currently flying will not change, there 
will not be an increase of over-flights or noise from what residents in 
the PDK area are already experiencing today. Aircraft operating to and 
from Hartsfield will not begin flying lower over residential areas near 
PDK Airport due to lowering the Class B floor.
    The commenters also contend that the Class B changes would increase 
IFR delays for PDK departures and arrivals, resulting in wasted fuel 
and increased operating costs as well as causing PDK IFR arrivals to 
circle over the neighborhoods while waiting to land.
    The FAA does not agree. Today, PDK IFR departures are initially 
cleared to climb to the highest available altitude, typically 5,000 
feet MSL, but sometimes lower based on other traffic. These aircraft 
climb at their normal rate until reaching their assigned altitude, so 
even if an aircraft is cleared to 4,000 feet instead of 5,000 feet, its 
initial rate of climb would be the same and there would be no increased 
impact on the ground that might be caused by a slower climb rate. 
Lowering the floor of the Class B in the vicinity of PDK will not alter 
this practice, since 5,000 feet will continue to be assigned by the 
satellite controller. PDK IFR arrivals operate on final approach at 
minimum altitudes that are based on obstacle clearance criteria and 
descent profiles defined by instrument procedure design standards. 
These IFR procedure altitudes cannot be lowered. Additionally, the 
established VFR traffic patterns at the satellite airports are not 
changing due to this rule.
    ATL arrivals currently fly in the PDK area at 6,000 feet today and 
they will continue to operate at that altitude after the Class B 
change. The purpose of lowering the floor to 5,000 feet in the PDK area 
is to contain, within Class B airspace, the ATL departures that are now 
flying at 5,000 feet underneath the arrivals. Since arrivals and 
departures at both ATL and PDK will continue to operate at the same 
altitudes as they do today, none of the above listed impacts would 
occur as a result of the Class B airspace modification.
    However, in view of the large number of comments received, and the 
Ad Hoc Committee recommendation concerning the Class B changes near 
PDK, we explored the possibility of modifying

[[Page 1743]]

the Class B airspace design in that area. We determined that we can 
move the proposed north boundary of the 5000 foot area (Area F) to the 
south of PDK, and move the proposed boundary of the 6000 foot area 
(Area J--located northeast of PDK) to the east by 2 miles. This design 
change will lower the Class B floor over PDK from the current 8,000 
feet to 7,000 feet instead of 5,000 feet as proposed in the NPRM. We 
believe that this accommodation will not compromise safety. The reduced 
size of the 5,000 foot area will still contain ATL departures operating 
beneath the arrivals as well as provide a higher Class B floor above 
PDK.
    In addition to the PDK comments discussed above, 24 commenters 
stated that lowering the floor of the Class B airspace would cause 
increased IFR departure delays out of both Fulton County Airport-Brown 
Field (FTY) and PDK.
    The FAA does not agree. The existence of Class B airspace has no 
impact on IFR delays from these airports. The determining factors for 
IFR delays are normally traffic volume and weather. Traffic volume 
delays exist today from time to time. Lowering the floor of the Class B 
airspace does not equate to an increase in traffic volume. The traffic 
that flows through the affected airspace is already there--the only 
difference is that the aircraft that are currently operating below 
Class B airspace will now be contained within the Class B airspace, 
which increases the margin of safety. There is also an incorrect 
perception that IFR aircraft departing satellite airports are kept out 
of the Class B. This is not true. With the modified Class B, aircraft 
departing satellite airports will be worked within Class B airspace 
more frequently. For example, a turbojet aircraft departing Runway 8 at 
FTY, going eastbound, is normally assigned 5,000 feet MSL shortly after 
take-off. Today, that aircraft is outside Class B airspace. With the 
modified Class B floor, that same aircraft will still be assigned 5,000 
feet MSL but will now be contained within Class B airspace.
    Many commenters asserted that there would be a decrease in safety 
margins for flights due to compression of VFR traffic into less 
airspace beneath the new Class B floors. Considering terrain and 
obstacles in the area, the commenters stated that there could be a 
higher risk of collision and less time for pilots to react to an in-
flight emergency. The commenters argued that compressing a significant 
amount of traffic into an even smaller amount of airspace would cause 
safety concerns and inefficient operation of aircraft. In addition, the 
commenters contend that the lower floors could create unsafe operating 
conditions for pilots transiting above the Class D airspace areas that 
underlie the new Class B floor.
    The FAA acknowledges that pilots electing to fly below the floor of 
Class B airspace may be compressed. However, the lower floors are 
necessary to segregate those aircraft operations from the large 
turbine-powered aircraft arriving and departing ATL. The Atlanta 
terminal area encompasses not only the world's busiest airport (with 
over 920,000 airport operations in CY 2011), but also PDK & FTY 
airports in close proximity, with their combined airport operations 
total that exceeded 212,000 in CY 2011. Plus, numerous other airports 
are situated in and around the Atlanta terminal area. These factors 
create a complex, high density airspace environment containing a highly 
diverse mix of aircraft types and aviation activities. Currently, large 
turbine-powered aircraft and VFR aircraft are flying simultaneously in 
the same airspace. It is essential to segregate the ATL traffic from 
nonparticipating aircraft that may not be in communication with ATC. 
Consequently, some nonparticipating VFR aircraft may have to fly 
further, or at different altitudes, in order to remain clear of the 
modified Class B. Ultimately, it is the pilot's responsibility to 
evaluate all factors that could affect a planned flight and determine 
the safest course of action whether it is circumnavigating the Class B, 
flying beneath the area, utilizing a charted VFR flyway, or requesting 
Class B clearance from Atlanta TRACON.
    One commenter stated that the new 6,000 foot floor in the southern 
portion of the Class B is not prudent for safe operation of small 
airplanes in the area. The commenter said less maneuvering room would 
be available for avoiding obstructions, clouds and turbulence, and for 
training activities such as practice stalls.
    It is a pilot responsibility to determine if there is enough 
altitude/airspace available to conduct training maneuvers. If a pilot 
believes that there is not enough airspace to conduct a particular 
maneuver, it is his/her responsibility to conduct the operation in 
appropriate airspace. The FAA finds that the new 6,000-floor still 
provides sufficient space for safe operations in this area. While this 
may result in some inconvenience to non-participating aircraft 
operating outside/under the Class B airspace, it is necessary to ensure 
the safety of the system overall.
    Another commenter stated that lower Class B floors are not 
necessary because airlines prefer to stay high and perform idle 
descents. This commenter discussed arrivals only, even though many of 
the Class B floors are being lowered due to the requirement to contain 
ATL departures within the Class B airspace.
    Another commenter claimed that the FAA did not adopt any 
suggestions from the Ad hoc Committee and did not consider the 
Committee's proposed alternative design.
    The FAA does not agree. The FAA fully considered the Ad Hoc 
Committee's recommendations and alternative design. In fact, a number 
of Committee suggestions were incorporated, such as removing Covington 
Municipal Airport (9A1) from beneath the proposed Class B; eliminating 
the existing and proposed ``wings'' at the four corners of the Class B; 
and developing T-routes and VFR reporting points at key points around 
the Class B to aid VFR navigation. The NPRM also explained specific 
reasons why the Committee's alternative design could not be adopted, 
including that the alternative design did not ensure the containment of 
large turbine powered aircraft in certain sections and/or would require 
changing ATC procedures to fit the proposal instead of amending the 
airspace to fit the procedures.
    Another commenter said that, although the NPRM mentioned the 
possibility of new T-routes and VFR flyways, the FAA has done no work 
on defining them. Additionally the commenter related that obtaining 
clearance through the Class B is the exception and not the rule.
    With regard to T-Routes, the FAA is currently designing T-Routes in 
the ATL terminal area. The effective date of the T-Routes will coincide 
with the implementation of procedural changes that are currently being 
developed as part of the Atlanta Metroplex Project. As noted in the 
NPRM, the FAA will establish additional VFR reporting points and VFR 
waypoints that will be depicted on the Atlanta Terminal Area Chart. 
With regard to clearance into or through the Atlanta Class B airspace, 
the commenter is correct; clearance into or through the Class B 
airspace is the exception and not the rule. This is due to the traffic 
volume surrounding the world's busiest airport. However, it remains the 
policy of Atlanta TRACON to authorize aircraft to transition through 
the Class B airspace to the maximum extent practical based on 
operational demands.
    Some commenters stated that the Class B floors to the north and 
south do not need to be lowered at all, and that the FAA instead should 
consider having

[[Page 1744]]

jet traffic intercept the glideslope at a higher altitude. The 
commenters contend that this would be more fuel efficient and would 
lower the noise impact since the traffic would be higher and that 
aircraft excluded from the Class B would not be as compressed into the 
small remaining airspace.
    The FAA does not agree. With regard to intercepting the glide slope 
at a higher altitude, the comments do not account for the fact that ATL 
conducts simultaneous triple ILS approaches. As described in the NPRM, 
this procedure requires that aircraft being turned onto parallel final 
approach courses be separated by 3 miles longitudinally, or 1,000 feet 
vertically until they are established on the final approach course. As 
a result, lower floors to the north and south of ATL are required to 
provide Class B airspace to contain those operations. That, combined 
with the 3-degree ILS glideslope, results in a long, low final approach 
course. For aircraft to intercept the glideslope higher than they do 
today (e.g., 7,000 feet on the center final) would force the Class B to 
be even bigger, the finals to be longer, and extend the pattern outside 
of the service volume of the ILS NAVAID. Additionally, ATL utilizes 
triple departure procedures which further add to the need for modifying 
the Class B airspace. It should be noted that ATL is not unique in this 
regard. Other locations conducting simultaneous triple ILS approaches, 
such as Chicago O'Hare International and Charlotte/Douglas 
International, have similar Class B airspace considerations.
    Several commenters criticized the modified Class B design 
contending that it can only be identified with an RNAV-quality mapping 
device. They argue that this is not practical in pleasure aircraft and 
would require the purchase of additional equipment. Furthermore, they 
state that the lateral limits of the airspace are best defined by 
radials and distances unless landmarks clearly visible in both daylight 
and darkness can be used.
    The FAA does not agree that the rule requires the purchase of 
additional equipment. Some boundaries in the ATL Class B design are not 
based on NAVAID radials and distances. Although that is the preferred 
method, it was found that to define all boundaries based on NAVAID 
references, and still achieve the required containment of ATL 
operations, it would be necessary to move the new boundaries in such a 
way that the Class B airspace would be expanded beyond FAA requirements 
and the Class B would be larger than that defined in this rule. This 
would impact nonparticipating aircraft to an unnecessary degree. 
Therefore, identifying the new boundaries cannot always be accomplished 
solely with reference to conventional navigation instruments. A variety 
of means may be required including VORTAC, RNAV and/or by visual 
reference using the sectional chart or TAC depictions. This situation 
is not unique. There are other Class B airspace areas and many military 
special use airspace areas depicted on sectional charts that are not 
defined by NAVAID radials, and where pilots must avoid the airspace or 
receive clearance for entry. As noted in the NPRM, the FAA is 
establishing new VFR reporting points and waypoints to assist VFR pilot 
navigation in the Atlanta terminal area. These points will be located 
over areas that can be easily identified visually. The FAA is also 
establishing VFR routes that can be used to circumnavigate the Class B 
airspace when necessary. The VFR Flyway Planning Chart, on the back of 
the Atlanta Terminal Area Chart, will be updated to reflect these new 
features. In addition, the FAA has recently introduced a new product 
called ``VFR Class B Enhancement Graphics.'' The new graphics show the 
geographic coordinates of each Class B boundary intersection, as well 
as a NAVAID radial/DME fix for each point and the length (in nautical 
miles) of each straight-line Class B boundary segment. The new graphics 
are designed to increase safety and aid pilots in gaining situational 
awareness within or around the Class B area. A graphic will be produced 
depicting the modified Atlanta Class B airspace to coincide with the 
effective date of the Class B changes. This will provide pilots a way 
to use the ATL VORTAC to identify the Class B boundaries. Therefore, it 
is not necessary for pilots to purchase additional equipment in order 
to navigate around the Atlanta Class B airspace area.
    A commenter stated that the Class B changes will not save airline 
fuel. Since airlines favor longer, idle power descents and 
uninterrupted climbs to more fuel efficient altitudes, lowering the 
Class B floors only gives more opportunity for unwanted level segments.
    The FAA does not agree. The Atlanta Class B is designed to 
accommodate both arriving and departing aircraft operations. Some Class 
B airspace floors are designed to contain ATL departures, including 
those aircraft that do not have a sufficient climb rate capability to 
remain within the existing Class B airspace during departure. Although 
these aircraft may be cleared for an unrestricted climb, their limited 
climb capability is insufficient to remain within the rising Class B 
floors of the current airspace configuration.
    A commenter contended that the addition of the fifth runway and new 
RNAV procedures at ATL have decreased the need for expanded Class B 
airspace. The commenter asserted that the fifth runway has been open 
since 2006 with excellent results in the existing Class B and the new 
RNAV procedures at ATL actually increase navigational accuracy and 
require less airspace, not more.
    The current Class B airspace is not adequate. Atlanta TRACON has 
documented hundreds of aircraft that exit the existing Class B airspace 
on a daily basis. Simulations have been run to validate the proposed 
Class B airspace design and virtually every aircraft that exited the 
existing Class B airspace would have been contained within the new 
Class B airspace design.
    Several commenters stated that the ATL Class B should not be 
changed based on the reason specified in the NPRM that air traffic 
controller workload is increased because they are required to notify 
aircraft leaving the Class B when they exit, and again, when they 
reenter the airspace. The commenters said that this requirement is 
obsolete and should be eliminated rather than changing the Class B 
airspace to reduce the workload.
    FAA orders require large turbine-powered aircraft to be retained 
within Class B airspace to the maximum extent possible. Containment of 
these aircraft within Class B airspace is a major item of interest of 
the FAA's Office of Aviation Safety Oversight. The main reason for this 
rulemaking action is not the advisory to aircraft that they are leaving 
or re-entering the Class B, but rather that aircraft cannot routinely 
be contained within the existing Class B airspace due to the existing 
airspace design. This is a safety issue, and the fundamental reason for 
the change. The Class B modifications will have the added benefit of 
reducing controller workload because the need to issue such advisories 
will be significantly reduced. This will allow controllers to devote 
attention to aircraft separation responsibilities.
    One commenter suggested that the FAA publish ``ATC climb rates,'' 
in addition to the minimum rate required for obstacle clearance for 
heavy aircraft departures during summertime operations that are unable 
to climb into the existing Class B. Pilots would understand that if 
they can meet the obstacle rate, but not the ATC rate, they

[[Page 1745]]

may notify ATC prior to takeoff and request relief. This would reduce 
the number of aircraft inadvertently outside the Class B while giving 
ATC sufficient time to anticipate when those situations might occur.
    Atlanta TRACON researched the possibility of implementing published 
``ATC climb rates.'' Unfortunately, the current criteria for the 
development of Area Navigation Standard Instrument Departures (RNAV 
SIDs) does not allow a procedure to be designed that would retain all 
departing aircraft within the existing Class B airspace on their 
current routes. Also, this would not satisfy the requirement to contain 
aircraft within Class B airspace to the maximum extent.
    Another commented that lower floors to the north and south of ATL 
do not improve satellite airport safety.
    The FAA does not agree. The justification for lowering the Class B 
floors is to contain all existing large turbine-powered aircraft 
departing from and arriving at the primary airport (ATL) within the 
Class B airspace. This enhances the safety of satellite airport 
operations by segregating the large turbine-powered aircraft from other 
aircraft that are not in communication with ATC.
    A commenter questioned the rationale in the NPRM regarding the need 
to keep all Missed Approach Procedures (MAP) within Class B. The 
commenter said it is well known that ATC rarely uses the published MAP, 
and instead controllers offer vectors or alternate instructions; the 
charted MAP is for emergencies or loss of communications purposes. The 
commenter said that normally aircraft conducting a missed approach 
would be directed to remain within Class B and the use of the published 
MAP is extremely rare. The commenter objected to a major airspace 
change for such infrequent occurrences.
    The FAA disagrees. The commenter interpreted statements in the NPRM 
concerning MAP as meaning only the published MAPs. Although the 
published MAPs are also a concern, the aircraft that are vectored 
following a missed approach must remain at 3,000 feet south of the 
airport. This is required procedurally to vertically separate missed 
approach aircraft off of runways 10/28 from aircraft missing approach 
off runways 9R/27L that are climbing to 4,000 feet on the same tracks. 
This procedure has been in place since the fifth runway opened at ATL 
in May 2006, and causes aircraft to exit the existing Class B airspace 
configuration. Climbing aircraft higher is not an option due to the 
corridor over the top of the Atlanta Airport that serves general 
aviation satellite airport departures and arrivals at 5,000 and 6,000 
feet.
    One commenter objected to the Class B change for cost reasons. The 
commenter stated that the current airspace has served well since 2006 
and increased efficiency has been gained since then with GPS and RNAV 
procedures. Considering the vast number of products that would need 
updating, the commenter said this project should be abandoned.
    The problems with the Class B configuration since 2006 were 
addressed in a previous comment. Regarding the costs of updating 
various products to reflect the airspace changes, FAA charts and 
related aeronautical products are continually updated to reflect 
current aeronautical, terrain and other information. Charts and other 
products are published on a regular cycle to accommodate these changes. 
As an example, new editions of the VFR Terminal Area Charts are 
published twice a year. An average of 100 chart changes are 
incorporated in each new edition. These changes are considered part of 
the ordinary cost of chart revision, and therefore, the FAA will not 
incur any additional costs due to the Class B changes.
    A commenter alleged that there is no need to modify the airspace in 
Atlanta because there are no current conflicts between commercial 
carriers and private flights and that changing the airspace would only 
impact private flights, making access into and out of the ATL Class B 
more difficult.
    The commenter is incorrect regarding the mix of aircraft in the 
Atlanta terminal area. There are sections where Atlanta IFR large 
turbine-powered aircraft and nonparticipating VFR aircraft share the 
same airspace. However, incidents between these IFR and VFR aircraft do 
not occur because controllers routinely take action to prevent them. 
The Class B modification is required to provide Class B containment to 
ensure that those operations continue to be safe without the need for 
controller intervention. Regarding the comment that the change will 
make access to the Class B more difficult, the FAA agrees that access 
to the Atlanta Class B airspace is limited. However, such access is 
based on the traffic situation. The overall size of the Class B 
airspace is being reduced from a maximum of 42 miles down to 30 miles 
which frees up many cubic miles of airspace and converts it from Class 
B to Class E airspace. There is no permission needed from ATC to 
operate in Class E airspace. As discussed above, the FAA is taking a 
number of steps to enhance VFR navigation in the ATL terminal area.
    A few commenters stated that modifying the Class B would not 
improve the flow of traffic into ATL, but would have the effect of 
``compacting'' general aviation aircraft into lower altitudes.
    The commenters are correct, changing the Class B airspace will not, 
in and of itself, improve the traffic flows into Atlanta, but it will 
ensure that current traffic flows are contained within the Class B 
airspace. The purpose of this change is not specifically to improve 
traffic flow, but to ensure safety in the Atlanta terminal area. The 
issue of compression of VFR traffic is addressed previously.
    Two pilots that fly IFR in the Atlanta area were concerned about 
the amount of time they are held below the present Class B airspace, 
resulting in inefficiency and added fuel costs.
    IFR flights are restricted to lower altitudes when necessary to 
ensure separation from other traffic, not because of the Class B 
airspace. The initial altitudes assigned IFR aircraft departing the 
satellite airports around Atlanta will not change due to this Class B 
change. Efforts are underway as part of the Atlanta Metroplex Project 
to find ways of climbing satellite jet departures to higher altitudes 
as soon as possible. Class B airspace will not affect that on-going 
project.
    A commenter said there is no need to expand the Class B airspace 
because the construction of the fifth runway at ATL, along with the 
decreased traffic count in recent years, has reduced the need for 
additional airspace.
    The FAA does not agree. Regarding the addition of the fifth runway, 
the commenter did not consider the fact that ATL conducts simultaneous 
triple ILS approaches. As described in an earlier response (see above), 
this procedure requires that aircraft being turned onto parallel final 
approach courses be separated by 3 miles longitudinally, or 1,000 feet 
vertically until they are established on the final approach course. 
This is one of several reasons for modifying the Class B airspace. 
Regarding the decreased traffic count, the commenter is correct that 
ATL's traffic count has decreased since 2008 (as has traffic system-
wide) reflecting the general U.S. economic downturn. However, ATL's 
traffic figures are still 3 times more than the threshold required 
qualifying for Class B airspace. In addition, the latest validated 
passenger enplanements for ATL (CY 2011) are more than 8 times the 
threshold requirement for Class B airspace and reflect nearly a 3 
percent

[[Page 1746]]

rise from the previous year. As the economy improves, Atlanta traffic 
volume is expected to increase to exceed the 2008 level. Even at the 
current volume, containment of Atlanta traffic is the issue that needs 
to be addressed for safety reasons.
    A commenter supported the FAA's plan to establish VFR waypoints, 
VFR reporting points, VFR routes, and RNAV T-Routes for transitioning 
through or around the Class B airspace, but is concerned that these 
would not be in place and charted when the airspace changes become 
effective. This commenter also suggested that the FAA develop specific 
VFR arrival and departure routes for PDK.
    The FAA will publish the above-mentioned VFR points concurrent with 
the publication of the new Class B charts. The RNAV T-routes will be 
published once they have been developed and implemented through a 
separate rulemaking action. Regarding PDK VFR routes, the FAA is 
developing suggested VFR flyways to be published on the Atlanta 
Terminal Area Chart.
    Several commenters argued that the 12,500-foot MSL ceiling of ATL 
Class B area is unnecessarily high and prevents unpressurized VFR 
aircraft from transitioning the area at higher altitudes. They cited 
examples where most other Class B locations have ceilings at or below 
10,000 feet MSL.
    Although other locations have Class B ceilings lower than ATL, all 
Class B airspace dimensions are individually tailored to meet site-
specific requirements. The 12,500 foot Class B ceiling encompasses 
ATL's transition altitudes. Within this airspace, jet aircraft 
departing ATL are initially climbed to 10,000 feet; while jet aircraft 
arriving ATL are initially descended to 12,000 feet. Within 30 miles of 
the ATL airport is where all of these aircraft transition between 
10,000 and 12,000 feet. The arrivals begin their descent to land and, 
once the departures are clear of the arrivals, the departures begin 
climbing to cruise altitude. Having VFR aircraft that are not in 
communication with ATC operating in this airspace reduces the margin of 
safety in the high volume airspace surrounding the world's busiest 
airport. The current 12,500 foot ceiling has been in existence since 
1975 and has provided an excellent safety record. This ceiling provides 
adequate protection to arrivals and departures as they transition to 
and from the en route structure. For those reasons, the FAA did not 
propose a change to the existing Class B airspace ceiling.
    Lastly, a commenter submitted an alternative Class B diagram for 
the FAA to consider that proposed a different altitude structure than 
was contained in the NPRM. The suggested Class B floors were the same 
as the FAA's proposal in areas A through E, but were significantly 
higher in the other areas to the north and south of ATL. In addition, a 
10,000 foot MSL ceiling was suggested to replace the existing 12,500-
foot ceiling.
    The FAA reviewed the proposal but did not adopt it because it does 
not meet the requirements to contain all of ATL's existing arrival and 
departure flows within Class B airspace as required by FAA directives. 
Many aircraft do not have a sufficient climb capability to remain 
within the Class B floors suggested in the commenter's proposal.

Differences From the NPRM

    The descriptions of subareas F, I and J have been modified from 
that proposed in the NPRM. In light of public and Ad Hoc Committee 
inputs, the FAA reevaluated the Class B design in the vicinity of PDK 
and determined that the proposed 5,000-foot Class B floor airspace over 
PDK could be raised to 7,000 feet. This is accomplished by moving the 
northern boundary of Area F, and the southern boundary of Area I, to 
the south of PDK; and by moving the west boundary of the section of 
Area J (that lies northeast of PDK) to the east by two miles. The 
revised subarea descriptions are listed in the ``Adoption of the 
Amendment'' section, below. Additionally, a correction of one second of 
longitude is made to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International 
Airport reference point to reflect the latest FAA database values.

The Rule

    The FAA is amending Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 
CFR) part 71 to modify the Atlanta, GA, Class B airspace area. This 
action (depicted on the attached chart) reduces the overall lateral 
boundaries of the airspace and expands the vertical boundaries by 
lowering the floors of some subareas. These modifications are necessary 
to provide the additional Class B airspace needed to contain large 
turbine-powered aircraft operating to and from ATL. The modifications 
to the ATL Class B airspace area are summarized below. The following 
areas extend upward from the specified altitudes to 12,500 feet MSL:
    Area A. Area A is the surface area that extends from the ground up 
to 12,500 feet MSL. The FAA is not making any changes to Area A.
    Area B. The revised area consists of that airspace extending upward 
from 2,500 feet MSL east and west of the Atlanta airport. It combines 
two existing subareas, B and C. The existing area B consists of a small 
segment of airspace, east of the ATL airport that extends upward from 
2,100 feet MSL between the 7- and 9-NM radii of the Atlanta VORTAC. The 
existing Area C includes that airspace extending upward from 2,500 feet 
MSL, east and west of Atlanta airport between the 7- and 12-NM radii of 
the Atlanta VORTAC. With this change, the existing 2,100-foot floor of 
Class B airspace is eliminated.
    Area C. The area is redefined to include that airspace that extends 
upward from 3,000 feet MSL (as described above, the existing Area C 
extends upward from 2,500 feet MSL). The new Area C lowers the existing 
floor of Class B airspace from 3,500 feet MSL to 3,000 feet MSL. 
Currently, Area D includes the airspace extending upward from 3,500 
feet MSL. With this change, most of the airspace now in Area D is 
incorporated into the new Area C (with the lower 3,000-foot floor).
    Area D. This area consists of that airspace extending upward from 
3,500 feet MSL. However, it is significantly reduced in size due to the 
modification of Area C, described above. The revised Area D includes 
only that airspace bounded on the south by a line 4 miles north of and 
parallel to the Runway 08L/26R localizer course, and on the north by a 
line 8 miles north of and parallel to the above mentioned localizer 
courses. The revised Area D is bounded on the west by long. 
84[deg]51[min]38[sec] W., and on the east by long. 
84[deg]00[min]32[sec] W.
    Area E. This area continues to include the airspace extending 
upward from 4,000 feet MSL, but it is modified by incorporating a small 
segment of Class B airspace south of ATL that currently extends upward 
from 6,000 feet MSL. In addition, Area E incorporates the two segments, 
currently extending upward from 5,000 feet MSL that were added by the 
October 2006 rule as discussed in the NPRM.
    Area F. Area F consists of that airspace extending upward from 
5,000 feet MSL. The area currently is composed of four small segments, 
one southwest of ATL, one southeast of ATL, and the two segments east 
and west of ATL that were designated in the October 2006 rule. These 
four areas would be removed from Area F and incorporated into other 
subareas with lower floors. The modified Area F is located north of ATL 
within the area bounded on the south by a line 8 miles north of and 
parallel to the Runway 08L/26R localizer courses, and on the north by a 
line 12 miles north of and parallel to the above mentioned

[[Page 1747]]

localizer courses. On the east and west, Area F is bounded by long. 
83[deg]54[min]04[sec] W.; and long. 84[deg]57[min]41[sec] W., 
respectively. The effect of this change is to lower the floor of Class 
B airspace from 6,000 feet MSL to 5,000 feet MSL in the described area.
    Area G. Area G contains that airspace extending upward from 6,000 
feet MSL. Currently, Area G consists of airspace north of ATL, which is 
largely incorporated into the revised Area F. The revised Area G 
consists of the airspace bounded approximately between the Atlanta 
VORTAC 30 NM radius on the south, and a line 12 miles south of and 
parallel to the Runway 10/28 localizer courses.
    Area H. This area consists of two airspace segments that extend 
upward from 5,000 feet MSL, one located southwest and one located 
southeast of ATL. The Area H segments are bounded on the north by a 
line 12 miles south of and parallel to the Runway 10/28 localizer 
courses and on the south by the 30 NM radius of the Atlanta VORTAC, 
excluding the airspace within Area G as described above.
    Area I. Area I is redefined to consist of the airspace extending 
upward from 7,000 feet MSL north of ATL. The revised Area I is bounded 
on the north side by the 30 NM radius of the Atlanta VORTAC; on the 
south by a line 12 NM north of and parallel to the Runway 08L/26R 
localizer courses; on the east by a line drawn from lat. 
33[deg]50[min]59[sec] N., long. 84[deg]16[min]38[sec] W., direct to 
lat. 34[deg]04[min]20[sec] N., long. 84[deg]09[min]24[sec] W.; and on 
the west by a line from lat. 33[deg]50[min]59[sec] N., long. 
84[deg]34[min]14[sec] W. direct to lat. 34[deg]01[min]40[sec] N., long. 
84[deg]47[min]55[sec] W. This change would lower the floor of Class B 
airspace from 8,000 feet MSL to 7,000 feet MSL in the defined area.
    Area J. Area J is a new subarea to describe that airspace extending 
upward from 6,000 feet MSL in two segments, one northwest and one 
northeast, of ATL. One segment abuts the west side of Area I and the 
other segment abuts the east side of Area I. The two segments also abut 
the northern boundary of Area F, with the 30 NM radius of the Atlanta 
VORTAC defining their northern edges. Area J lowers part of the Class B 
airspace floor from 8,000 feet MSL to 6,000 feet MSL in the northwest 
and northeast sections of the area.

Environmental Review

    The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act in accordance 
with FAA Order 1050.1E, ``Environmental Impacts: Policies and 
Procedures,'' paragraph 311a. This airspace action is not expected to 
cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no 
extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an 
environmental assessment.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. We have determined that there 
is no new information collection requirement associated with this rule.

Regulatory Evaluation Summary

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563 
directs that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation 
only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended 
regulation justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 
1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) requires agencies to analyze the economic impact 
of regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements 
Act (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits agencies from setting standards that 
create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. In developing U.S. standards, the Trade Act requires agencies 
to consider international standards and, where appropriate, that they 
be the basis of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) requires agencies to prepare a written 
assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or 
final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result in the 
expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, 
or by the private sector, of $100 million or more annually (adjusted 
for inflation with base year of 1995). This portion of the preamble 
summarizes the FAA's analysis of the economic impacts of this final 
rule.
    Department of Transportation Order DOT 2100.5 prescribes policies 
and procedures for simplification, analysis, and review of regulations. 
If the expected cost impact is so minimal that a proposed or final rule 
does not warrant a full evaluation, this order permits that a statement 
to that effect and the basis for it be included in the preamble if a 
full regulatory evaluation of the cost and benefits is not prepared. 
Such a determination has been made for this final rule. The reasoning 
for this determination follows:
    This action modifies the Atlanta, GA, Class B airspace area to 
ensure the containment of aircraft within Class B airspace, reduce 
controller workload and enhance safety in the Atlanta, GA, terminal 
area. It lowers the Class B airspace in some sections to encompass 
existing IFR traffic. Lowering the floor of the Class B airspace will 
increase safety by segregating large turbine-powered aircraft from 
aircraft that may not be in contact with ATC. It also increases safety 
and reduces air traffic controller workload by reducing the number of 
radio communications that air traffic controllers must use to inform 
IFR aircraft when they are leaving and re-entering Class B airspace. 
This reduces the amount of distraction that air traffic controllers 
face in issuing these communications and frees radio time for more 
important control instructions. IFR traffic will not be rerouted as a 
result of this proposal.
    The change may cause some VFR pilots to have to choose between 
flying lower, circumnavigating the area, or requesting Class B service 
from A80 to transition the area. This has the potential of increasing 
costs to VFR pilots if the alternative routes are longer, take more 
time and burn more fuel. The FAA believes, however, that there will be 
minimal impact to VFR aircraft operating where the Class B floor will 
be lowered. Commenters did not offer specific comments on increased 
fuel consumption for VFR flights if the pilot of these flights chose 
alternative routes. An FAA sampling of VFR traffic found that 98 
percent of 7123 VFR flights were already operating below the 5,000-foot 
floor proposed in the NPRM. Since the final rule raises a portion of 
this floor, we can still conclude that an estimated 98% of VFR flights 
based on this sample will operate below the redesigned Class B floor. 
Where the floor will be lowered to 3,000 feet, we believe there is 
sufficient airspace to allow safe flight below the Class B airspace. 
The minimum vectoring altitude (based in part on obstruction clearance) 
under most of the 3,000 foot floor is 2,500 feet. VFR aircraft can and 
do fly safely at 2,000 feet under the existing Class B floor. 
Recognizing that some VFR aircraft may elect to circumnavigate instead 
of flying lower, only a short deviation in distance and time will be 
needed to place the aircraft beneath a higher Class B floor.
    The FAA intends to take actions that will increase the alternatives 
available to VFR pilots. For instance, the FAA intends to establish VFR 
Waypoints and Reporting Points to assist VFR pilot navigation, and to 
establish VFR routes that can be used to circumnavigate the Class B 
airspace or used as a predetermined route through the Class B

[[Page 1748]]

airspace when operations permit. In addition to these new VFR 
waypoints, the FAA will establish RNAV T-Routes within Class B airspace 
for transitioning over the top of ATL airports. These various 
alternatives should provide pilots with options that will assist them 
in navigating around or beneath the Class B and/or to request ATC 
clearance to cut through the Class B. The FAA believes that no more 
than a small percent of VFR traffic will choose to travel longer, less 
efficient or more costly routes because safe flight will still be 
possible beneath most of the Class B airspace, A80 would continue to 
provide VFR services to assist pilots in transiting the area, and only 
short course deviations would be needed if pilots decide to avoid the 
areas with lower Class B floors.
    The FAA has made changes relative to the NPRM by raising the floor 
of the proposed Class B in the vicinity of PDK from 5,000 feet to 7,000 
feet. This may be relieving in that additional airspace will be 
available for GA operations relative to the proposal.
    The FAA will have to update maps and charts to indicate the 
airspace modifications, but these documents are updated regularly. 
These modifications will be made within the normal updating process and 
therefore will not contribute to the cost of the rule since the updates 
would be as scheduled.
    The rule redefines Class B airspace boundaries to improve safety, 
will not require updating of materials outside the normal update cycle, 
will not require rerouting of IFR traffic, and is expected to possibly 
cause some VFR traffic to travel alternative routes which are not 
expected to be appreciably longer than with the current airspace 
design. The expected outcome will be a minimal impact with positive net 
benefits, and a regulatory evaluation was not prepared.
    FAA has, therefore, determined that this final rule is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' as defined in section 3(f) of 
Executive Order 12866, and is not ``significant'' as defined in DOT's 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures.

Regulatory Flexibility Determination

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) (RFA) 
establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall 
endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable 
statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale 
of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions 
subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required 
to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain 
the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given 
serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, 
including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions.
    Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a rule will 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. If the agency determines that it will, the agency must 
prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis as described in the RFA.
    However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected to 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, section 605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of the 
agency may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required. The certification must include a statement providing the 
factual basis for this determination, and the reasoning should be 
clear.
    The rule is expected to improve safety by redefining Class B 
airspace boundaries and will impose only minimal costs because it will 
not require rerouting of IFR traffic, could possibly cause some VFR 
traffic to travel alternative routes that are not expected to be 
appreciably longer than with the current airspace design, and will not 
require updating of materials outside the normal update cycle. The FAA 
reviewed the comments and did not find any comments that would lead us 
to conclude that there would be an impact on small businesses. 
Therefore, the expected outcome will be a minimal economic impact on 
small entities affected by this rulemaking action.
    Therefore as the acting FAA Administrator, I certify that this rule 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities.

International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39), as amended by the 
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (Pub. L. 103-465), prohibits Federal 
agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related activities 
that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. Pursuant to these Acts, the establishment of standards is not 
considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the 
United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic 
objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not operate in a 
manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also 
requires consideration of international standards and, where 
appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has 
assessed the potential effect of this final rule and determined that it 
will have only a domestic impact and therefore no effect on 
international trade

Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-
4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(in 1995 dollars) in any one year by State, local, and tribal 
governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector; such a mandate 
is deemed to be a ``significant regulatory action.'' The FAA currently 
uses an inflation-adjusted value of $143.1 million in lieu of $100 
million. This final rule does not contain such a mandate; therefore, 
the requirements of Title II of the Act do not apply.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

Adoption of the Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

PART 71--DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR 
TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 
FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

Sec.  71.1  [Amended]

0
2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of the Federal 
Aviation Administration Order 7400.9W, Airspace Designations and 
Reporting Points, dated August 8, 2012, and effective September 15, 
2012, is amended as follows:

Paragraph 3000 Subpart B--Class B Airspace.

* * * * *

ASO GA B Atlanta, GA [Amended]

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Primary Airport)
    (Lat. 33[deg]38'12'' N., long. 84[deg]25'40'' W.)
Atlanta VORTAC
    (Lat. 33[deg]37'45'' N., long. 84[deg]26'06'' W.)

Boundaries

    Area A. That airspace extending upward from the surface to and 
including 12,500 feet

[[Page 1749]]

MSL, bounded on the east and west by a 7-mile radius of the Atlanta 
VORTAC, on the south by a line 4 miles south of and parallel to the 
Runway 10/28 localizer courses, and on the north by a line 4 miles 
north of and parallel to the Runway 08L/26R localizer courses; 
excluding the Atlanta Fulton County Airport-Brown Field, GA, Class D 
airspace area.
    Area B. That airspace extending upward from 2,500 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL, bounded on the east and west by a 12-
mile radius of the Atlanta VORTAC, on the south by a line 4 miles 
south of and parallel to the Runway 10/28 localizer courses, and on 
the north by a line 4 miles north of and parallel to the Runway 08L/
26R localizer courses; excluding the Atlanta Fulton County Airport-
Brown Field, GA, Class D airspace area and that airspace contained 
in Area A.
    Area C. That airspace extending upward from 3,000 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL, bounded on the east by long. 
84[deg]00'32'' W., on the west by long. 84[deg]51'38'' W., on the 
south by a line 8 miles south of and parallel to the Runway 10/28 
localizer courses, and on the north by a line 4 miles north of and 
parallel to the Runway 08L/26R localizer courses; excluding that 
airspace contained in Areas A and B.
    Area D. That airspace extending upward from 3,500 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL, bounded on the east by long. 
84[deg]00'32'' W., on the west by long. 84[deg]51'38'' W., on the 
south by a line 4 miles north of and parallel to the Runway 08L/26R 
localizer courses, and on the north by a line 8 miles north of and 
parallel to the Runway 08L/26R localizer courses.
    Area E. That airspace extending upward from 4,000 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL, bounded on the east by long. 
83[deg]54'04'' W., on the west by long. 84[deg]57'41'' W., on the 
south by a line 12 miles south of and parallel to the Runway 10/28 
localizer courses and on the north by a line 8 miles north of and 
parallel to the Runway 08L/26R localizer courses; excluding that 
airspace contained in Areas A, B, C, and D.
    Area F. That airspace extending upward from 5,000 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL, within a 30-mile radius of the 
Atlanta VORTAC and bounded on the east by long. 83[deg]54'04'' W., 
on the south by a line 8 miles north of and parallel to the Runway 
08L/26R localizer courses, on the west by long. 84[deg]57'41'' W., 
and on the north by a line 12 miles north of and parallel to the 
Runway 08L/26R localizer courses.
    Area G. That airspace extending upward from 6,000 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL bounded on the north by a line 12 
miles south of and parallel to the Runway 10/28 localizer courses, 
on the east by a line from lat. 33[deg]25'21'' N., long. 
84[deg]16'49'' W. direct to lat. 33[deg]15'33'' N., long. 
84[deg]01'55'' W., on the south by a 30-mile radius of the Atlanta 
VORTAC, and on the west by a line from lat. 33[deg]25'25'' N., long. 
84[deg]33'32'' W. direct to lat. 33[deg]18'26'' N., long. 
84[deg]42'56'' W. and thence south via long. 84[deg]42'56'' W.
    Area H. That airspace extending upward from 5,000 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL, within a 30-mile radius of the 
Atlanta VORTAC south of a line 12 miles south of and parallel to the 
Runway 10/28 localizer courses, bounded on the west by long. 
84[deg]57'41'' W. and on the east by long. 83[deg]54'04'' W. 
excluding that airspace within the lateral limits of area G.
    Area I. That airspace extending upward from 7,000 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL bounded on the north by the 30-mile 
radius of the Atlanta VORTAC, on the east by a line from lat. 
33[deg]50'59'' N., long. 84[deg]16'38'' W. direct to lat. 
34[deg]04'20'' N., long. 84[deg]09'24'' W., on the south by a line 
12 miles north of and parallel to the Runway 08L/26R localizer 
courses, and on the west by a line from lat. 33[deg]50'59'' N., 
long. 84[deg]34'14'' W. direct to lat. 34[deg]01'40'' N., long. 
84[deg]47'55'' W.
    Area J. That airspace extending upward from 6,000 feet MSL to 
and including 12,500 feet MSL bounded on the north by a 30-mile 
radius of the Atlanta VORTAC, on the east by long. 83[deg]54'04'' 
W., on the south by a line 12 miles north of and parallel to the 
Runway 08L/26R localizer courses, and on the west by long. 
84[deg]57'41'' W., excluding that airspace within the lateral limits 
of area I.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 6, 2012.
Gary A. Norek,
Manager, Airspace Policy and ATC Procedures Group.
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P

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[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR09JA13.001

[FR Doc. 2013-00287 Filed 1-7-13; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-C