Updates on Optimization of the Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex
Friday, September 13, 2013

Aviation industry experts gathered once again on Tuesday, Sept. 10, to discuss Optimization of Airspace & Procedures in the Metroplex (OAPM).  The panel was moderated by FAA Director of Airspace Services Dennis Roberts and included NATCA National OAPM Study Team Lead Jeff Woods, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Airfield/Airspace Project Manager Michael Hines, and American Airlines Airspace Modernization and Advanced Technologies Director Brian Will.

All of the panelists spoke highly of the amount of collaboration that has gone into making OAPM so successful.

“Collaboration on this is just astounding,” said Woods.  “You really get an idea of what happens from the controller side and the pilot side.”

A large part of the collaborative process, Woods said, is capturing the lessons learned from both the industry and controller perspectives.  As an example, he discussed how lead air carriers respond to changes in approaches.  With all of the stakeholders coming together on OAPM, Woods said it was easy to ensure results.

“[We] fine tune what we’re trying to design,” he said.  “It’s very beneficial to what we’re trying to do.”

From left to right: Will, Hines, Woods and Roberts discuss OAPM during their panel.

Will echoed Woods’ collaboration sentiments.  “You can change the world with the people we have sitting up here on the stage,” he said.  “When you have collaboration and willingness, you can pull that off.”

Will also admitted that some of the new OAPM procedures were very complex, but with proper training and technology, they were beneficial.

“These procedures will roll out, fly well and I’m expecting we’ll have very little negative feedback,” said Will.

Hines noted that when a new OAPM procedure is implemented, it is also vital for the stakeholders to look at the airspace from an obstruction standpoint.  He gave an example of a new OAPM procedure at DCA that would have impacted a new Potomac Yards development nearby.

“The development didn’t impact the approach surface,” he said.  “The approach surface is impacting the development.”

“Now is the time for airports to start getting more engaged, really with the whole NextGen,” Hines said.  He explained the importance of individual airports and communities taking responsibility in protecting the airspace as new OAPM procedures are implemented.

Overall, the panelists agreed that the key point in OAPM procedures was optimizing the airspace rather than maximizing it.

“There is a lot of benefit to what we’re doing in the particular program,” concluded Woods.