[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 193 (Tuesday, October 6, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 60310-60314]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-25344]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 93

[Docket No.: FAA-2015-3980; Notice No. 15-09]
RIN 2120-AK74


Pearson Field Airport Special Flight Rules Area

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The FAA is proposing to establish a Special Flight Rules Area 
in the vicinity of Pearson Field Airport, Vancouver, Washington. 
Pearson Field Airport is located approximately three nautical miles 
northwest of Portland International Airport, Portland, Oregon. The 
close proximity of the airport traffic patterns and approach courses 
create converging flight paths between traffic on approach to Portland 
International Airport and traffic at Pearson Field Airport, increasing 
the risk for near mid-air collision, mid-air collision and wake 
turbulence events. The intended effect of this action is to mitigate 
the identified risk by establishing operating requirements applicable 
to all aircraft when operating within a designated area at Pearson 
Field Airport, which would increase overall system efficiency and 
safety.

DATES: Send comments on or before December 7, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-3980 
using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your 
comments electronically.
     Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. 
Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room 
W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket 
Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.
    Privacy: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments 
from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts 
these comments, without edit, including any personal information the 
commenter provides, to http://www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
http://www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at 
http://www.regulations.gov at any time. Follow the online instructions 
for accessing the docket or go to the Docket Operations in Room W12-140 
of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this action, contact Jon M. Stowe, Airspace and Rules Team, AJV-113, 
Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-8783; email 
[email protected].
    For legal questions concerning this action, contact Lorelei Peter, 
Office of Chief Counsel, AGC-200, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-
3073; email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in 
title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.). Subtitle I, section 106 
describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, 
Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's 
authority.
    This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 49 
U.S.C. 106(f), which establishes the authority of the Administrator to 
promulgate regulations and rules. This rulemaking also is promulgated 
under the authority described in 49 U.S.C. 40103, which vests the 
Administrator with broad authority to prescribe regulations to assign 
the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the 
efficient use of airspace, and 49 U.S.C. 44701(a)(5), which requires 
the Administrator to promote safe flight of civil aircraft in air 
commerce by prescribing regulations and minimum standards for other 
practices, methods, and procedures necessary for safety in air commerce 
and national security.

I. Executive Summary

    This NPRM proposes to establish a special flight rules area (SFRA) 
around Pearson Field Airport (Pearson Field) in which pilots would have 
to follow mandatory procedures. These procedures are necessary to 
assist in the

[[Page 60311]]

separation of air traffic, and to ensure pilots are aware of potential 
traffic conflicts between aircraft operating at Pearson Field and 
Portland International Airport. The purpose is to ensure safety of 
flight for aircraft operating at Pearson Field Airport and the adjacent 
Portland International Airport.

II. Background and History

    Pearson Field is located on the north bank of the Columbia River in 
Vancouver, Washington, approximately three nautical miles west of 
Portland International Airport, Portland, Oregon. Pearson Field is part 
of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and is listed on the 
National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the oldest airports 
in the United States, and the longest continually operating airport 
west of the Mississippi. Pearson Field does not have an air traffic 
control tower.
    Portland International Airport is located 10 miles northeast of 
downtown Portland and has over 300,000 annual operations, primarily 
scheduled air carriers conducting operations under title 14 of the Code 
of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 121. It serves northern Oregon and 
southwest Washington with service to 120 cities worldwide. Due to the 
continued growth of Portland International Airport and the close 
proximity of Pearson Field, the FAA has identified safety issues.
    The airspace area surrounding Pearson Field is excluded from the 
Portland International Airport Class C airspace area and is commonly 
referred to as the Pearson cutout. The runway 08 threshold at Pearson 
Field is directly below the instrument landing system (ILS) final 
approach course to Portland International Airport's runway 10L. 
Additionally, runway 10L was expanded to accommodate heavy aircraft and 
Boeing 757s. These operations increase the risk of wake turbulence 
events between Portland International Airport arrivals to runway 10L or 
departures from runway 28L/28R and aircraft operating at Pearson Field.
    The Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD) lists the traffic pattern 
altitude at Pearson Field as 1029 feet mean sea level (MSL) or 1000 
feet above ground level (AGL). The A/FD also instructs aircraft 
operating over the runway centerline or extended runway centerline at 
Pearson Field to ``maintain at or below 700 feet MSL due to traffic and 
wake turbulence from overflying aircraft to/from Portland International 
Airport Runway 10L/28R.'' This is because aircraft established on the 
Portland International Airport ILS final approach course to runway 10L 
pass directly over Pearson's runway 08 threshold at 1091 feet MSL (1062 
feet AGL). The close proximity of the traffic pattern and the approach 
course create converging flight paths between aircraft on approach to 
Portland International Airport's runway 10L/10R and aircraft operating 
at Pearson Field.
    These converging flight paths and the lack of vertical separation 
create potential safety concerns for aircraft operating at both Pearson 
Field and Portland International Airport, including risk of mid-air 
collision and wake turbulence events. There is no requirement for 
pilots to establish communications with air traffic control to receive 
traffic advisories. In particular, when Portland International Airport 
is operating on an east traffic flow and weather permits aircraft to 
operate under visual flight rules (VFR) at Pearson Field the occurrence 
of traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) resolution advisories (RA) 
increases.
    To mitigate the identified risk, FAA's Portland Approach Control 
took measures to increase safety, which included training controllers 
regarding flight paths into and out of Pearson Field, and refresher 
training regarding RAs, safety alerts and wake turbulence. Portland Air 
Traffic Control Tower established the ``Pearson Advisory'' position to 
provide traffic advisories to aircraft operating at Pearson Field. 
Additionally, recommended pilot communications and procedures were 
placed in the A/FD, which are voluntary but not required. While these 
mitigations have increased safety and pilot awareness, 20 TCAS RAs were 
reported and logged by air traffic control during calendar year 2014 
and reflect an ongoing safety concern.

III. The Proposed Rule

    To address the safety concerns between traffic operating at Pearson 
Field and Portland International Airport, the FAA is proposing to 
establish a SFRA at Pearson Field by adding new subpart N to part 93, 
where special air traffic rules are codified. The proposed rule 
provides a description of the airspace area (proposed Sec.  93.162), 
communication requirements in the SFRA for both inbound and outbound 
flights (proposed Sec.  93.163(a)), and procedural requirements 
necessary to reduce the risks associated with the operation (proposed 
Sec.  93.163(c)).
    This action proposes to make the following voluntary practices in 
the A/FD and air traffic procedures applicable in the Pearson Field 
SFRA and mandatory for all pilots unless otherwise authorized by Air 
Traffic Control (ATC):
     Pilots must establish two-way radio communications with 
Pearson Advisory on the common traffic advisory frequency for the 
purpose of receiving air traffic advisories prior to entering the SFRA 
or taxiing onto the runway for departure. Additionally, pilots must 
continuously monitor the frequency at all times while operating within 
the designated airspace.
     When operating over the extended centerline of Pearson 
Field Runway 8/26, pilots must maintain an altitude at or below 700 
feet MSL.
     Pilots must obtain the Pearson Field weather prior to 
establishing two-way communications with Pearson Advisory.
     Pilots must remain outside Portland Class C Airspace.
     Pilots must make a right-hand traffic pattern when 
operating to/from Pearson Field Runway 26.
     Pilots may operate in the area without establishing two-
way radio communication, in the event of radio failure, provided that 
weather conditions at Pearson Field are at or above basic VFR weather 
minimums.

IV. Regulatory Notices and Analyses

A. Regulatory Evaluation

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563 direct 
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

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summarizes the FAA's analysis of the economic impacts of this proposed 
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 to 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 proposed rule. The 
reasoning for this determination follows:
    Due to the continued growth of Portland International Airport and 
the close proximity of Pearson Field, safety issues have been 
identified. To address the safety concerns between traffic operating at 
Pearson Field and Portland International Airport, the FAA is proposing 
to establish a SFRA at Pearson Field in part 93. The proposed rule 
provides a description of the area, communication requirements for both 
inbound and outbound flights, and procedural requirements necessary to 
reduce the risks associated with the operation.
    Currently, pilots voluntarily comply with procedures in the A/FD, 
to establish two-way radio communications with Pearson Advisory, and to 
maintain at or below 700 feet above mean sea level when operating over 
the extended centerline of Pearson Field Runway 8/26. Additionally, air 
traffic control instructs pilots on Pearson advisory to obtain the 
Pearson Field weather, and to remain outside Portland Class C Airspace. 
As a result of being required to remain outside of Portland's Class C 
Airspace, pilots must make a non-standard right traffic pattern if 
landing on runway 26 at Pearson Field. Twenty TCAS resolution 
advisories (RAs) were reported and logged by air traffic control during 
calendar year 2014 reflecting an ongoing safety concern. By making the 
voluntary compliance mandatory, the FAA expects a decrease in the 
occurrence of, and will avoid an increase in, RAs. Thus, the cost of 
the rule would be minimal.
    The FAA has, therefore, determined that this proposed 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.

B. 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 FAA believes that this proposed rule does not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
for the following reasons. With this proposed rule, the procedures and 
voluntary practices already in place would become mandatory. The 
intended effect of this action is to mitigate the identified risk by 
establishing requirements necessary when operating within an 
established area at Pearson Field, and to increase overall system 
efficiency and safety; the expected outcome will have only a minimal 
impact on any small entity affected by this rulemaking action.
    Therefore, as provided in section 605(b), the head of the FAA 
certifies that this rulemaking will not result in a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

C. 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 proposed rule and determined that 
the rule would protect safety and is not considered an unnecessary 
obstacle to foreign commerce.

D. 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 $155 million in lieu of $100 
million. This proposed rule does not contain such a mandate; therefore, 
the requirements of Title II of the Act do not apply.

E. 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. The FAA has determined that 
there is no new requirement for information collection associated with 
this notice of proposed rulemaking.

F. International Compatibility and Cooperation

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA policy to conform to ICAO 
Standards and Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. 
The FAA has reviewed the corresponding ICAO Standards and Recommended 
Practices and has identified no corresponding standards with these 
regulations.

G. Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1E identifies FAA actions that are categorically 
excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy 
Act in the absence of extraordinary circumstances.

[[Page 60313]]

The FAA has determined this rulemaking action qualifies for the 
categorical exclusion identified in paragraph 312f and involves no 
extraordinary circumstances.

V. Executive Order Determinations

A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this proposed rule under the principles and 
criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The agency has 
determined that this action would not have a substantial direct effect 
on the States, or the relationship between the Federal Government and 
the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among 
the various levels of government, and, therefore, would not have 
Federalism implications.

B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use

    The FAA analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that it 
would not be a ``significant energy action'' under the executive order 
and would not be likely to have a significant adverse effect on the 
supply, distribution, or use of energy.

C. Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation

    Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation, (77 FR 26413, May 4, 2012) promotes international 
regulatory cooperation to meet shared challenges involving health, 
safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues and to reduce, 
eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory 
requirements. The FAA has analyzed this action under the policies and 
agency responsibilities of Executive Order 13609, and has determined 
that this action would have no effect on international regulatory 
cooperation.

VI. Additional Information

A. Comments Invited

    The FAA invites interested persons to participate in this 
rulemaking by submitting written comments, data, or views. The agency 
also invites comments relating to the economic, environmental, energy, 
or federalism impacts that might result from adopting the proposals in 
this document. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion 
of the proposal, explain the reason for any recommended change, and 
include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain 
duplicate comments, commenters should send only one copy of written 
comments, or if comments are filed electronically, commenters should 
submit only one time.
    The FAA will file in the docket all comments it receives, as well 
as a report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA 
personnel concerning this proposed rulemaking. Before acting on this 
proposal, the FAA will consider all comments it receives on or before 
the closing date for comments. The agency may change this proposal in 
light of the comments it receives.
    Proprietary or Confidential Business Information: Commenters should 
not file proprietary or confidential business information in the 
docket. Such information must be sent or delivered directly to the 
person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document, and marked as proprietary or confidential. If submitting 
information on a disk or CD ROM, mark the outside of the disk or CD 
ROM, and identify electronically within the disk or CD ROM the specific 
information that is proprietary or confidential.
    Under 14 CFR 11.35(b), if the FAA is aware of proprietary 
information filed with a comment, the agency does not place it in the 
docket. It is held in a separate file to which the public does not have 
access, and the FAA places a note in the docket that it has received 
it. If the FAA receives a request to examine or copy this information, 
it treats it as any other request under the Freedom of Information Act 
(5 U.S.C. 552). The FAA processes such a request under Department of 
Transportation procedures found in 49 CFR part 7.

B. Availability of Rulemaking Documents

    An electronic copy of rulemaking documents may be obtained from the 
Internet by--
     Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
     Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at 
http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies or
     Accessing the Government Printing Office's Web page at 
http://www.fdsys.gov.
    Copies may also be obtained by sending a request to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9677. 
Commenters must identify the docket or notice number of this 
rulemaking.
    All documents the FAA considered in developing this proposed rule, 
including economic analyses and technical reports, may be accessed from 
the Internet through the Federal eRulemaking Portal referenced above.

C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 
(SBREFA) requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for 
information or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations 
within its jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this 
document may contact its local FAA official, or the person listed under 
the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at the beginning of the 
preamble. To find out more about SBREFA on the Internet, visit http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 93

    Air traffic control, Airports, Navigation (air).

The Proposed Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration proposes to amend chapter I of title 14, Code of Federal 
Regulations as follows:

PART 93--SPECIAL AIR TRAFFIC RULES

0
1. The authority citation for part 93 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40103, 40106, 40109, 40113, 
44502, 44514, 44701, 44715, 44719, 46301.

0
2. Add subpart N to part 93 to read as follows:

Subpart N--Pearson Field (Vancouver, WA) Airport Traffic Rule

Sec.
93.161 Applicability.
93.162 Description of area.
93.163 Aircraft operations.


Sec.  93.161  Applicability.

    This subpart prescribes special air traffic rules for aircraft 
conducting VFR operations in the vicinity of the Pearson Field Airport 
in Vancouver, Washington.


Sec.  93.162  Description of area.

    The Pearson Field Airport Special Flight Rules Area is designated 
as that airspace extending upward from the surface to but not including 
1,100 feet MSL in an area bounded by a line beginning at the point 
where the 019[deg] bearing from Pearson Field intersects the 5-mile arc 
from Portland International Airport extending southeast to a point 1\1/
2\ miles east of Pearson Field on the extended

[[Page 60314]]

centerline of Runway 8/26, thence south to the north shore of the 
Columbia River, thence west via the north shore of the Columbia River 
to the 5-mile arc from Portland International Airport, thence clockwise 
via the 5-mile arc to point of beginning.


Sec.  93.163  Aircraft operations.

    (a) Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, no person may operate an 
aircraft within the airspace described in Sec.  93.162, or taxi onto 
the runway at Pearson Field, unless--
    (1) That person establishes two-way radio communications with 
Pearson Advisory on the common traffic advisory frequency for the 
purpose of receiving air traffic advisories and continues to monitor 
the frequency at all times while operating within the specified 
airspace.
    (2) That person has obtained the Pearson Field weather prior to 
establishing two-way communications with Pearson Advisory.
    (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this 
section, if two-way radio communications failure occurs in flight, a 
person may operate an aircraft within the airspace described in Sec.  
93.162, and land, if weather conditions are at or above basic VFR 
weather minimums. If two-way radio communications failure occurs while 
in flight under IFR, the pilot must comply with Sec.  91.185 of this 
chapter.
    (c) Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, persons operating an 
aircraft within the airspace described in Sec.  93.162 must--
    (1) When operating over the extended centerline of Pearson Field 
Runway 8/26, maintain an altitude at or below 700 feet above mean sea 
level.
    (2) Remain outside Portland Class C Airspace.
    (3) Make a right traffic pattern when operating to/from Pearson 
Field Runway 26.

    Issued in Washington, DC, under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 
106(f), 40103, and 44701(a)(5) on September 29, 2015.
Jodi S. McCarthy,
Director, Airspace Services.
[FR Doc. 2015-25344 Filed 10-5-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P