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National Airspace/Established on Required Navigation Performance (EoR)

Josh Haviland is the Article 114 National Airspace Representative and Article 114 National EoR Representative.  

Background: Required Navigation Performance (RNP) describes an aircraft’s capability to navigate using certain performance standards. When an aircraft is “RNP equipped”, it has the ability to monitor the aircraft’s flight track conformance and alert pilots when area navigation performance that cannot be met. The typical RNP conformance requirement for an RNAV (RNP) instrument approach procedure is 0.3 nautical miles from the centerline of the final approach course.  

Unlike vectoring an aircraft to the extended runway centerline for an approach, once established on an RNP approach on the downwind or a base segment, controllers can allow an aircraft to turn to final without providing a minimum of 1000 feet vertical or 3 miles radar separation from aircraft established on an approach to a parallel runway. Application of EoR is available to airports having independent operations with the following runway configurations: Parallel Dual – Runways between 3600 and 9000 feet separated for dual operations; Parallel Triple – Runways between 3900 and 9000 feet apart; Parallel Widely-Spaced – Runways greater than 9000 feet apart.  

Continued collaboration with FAA NextGen and Flight Safety Standards offices in development of Human-in-the-Loop (HITL) ATC scenarios for the NextGen concept of Multiple Airport Runway Separation (MARS).  

The effort to design special low-level helicopter route from Bangor to Bar Harbor, Maine was finalized in preparation for a late 2021 publication/implementation. The “LifeFlight of Maine” project unfortunately incurred a few setbacks due to the failure of convening an Article 114 collaborative work group as requested with AJV-S3 in late 2019. Once it was discovered that ATC concurrence with the proposed route was not yet received, aggressive coordination efforts were made with ATC to verify the operational feasibility of the proposed helicopter route. After two short-notice group discussions with ATC were held (facilitated by NATCA), ATC concurrence with the route was achieved and the project remains on schedule as originally planned. To capitalize on the opportunity for “lessons learned”, I have been conducting ad hoc Article 114 educational outreach with AJV-S3 managers to help prepare for similar future initiatives.  

PBN/Metroplex Design and Implementation   

Ed Hulsey is the Article 114 Representative for PBN/Metroplex Design and Implementation.  

Background: In late 2009, the aviation industry’s Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) Task Force 5 published a report that included a key set of recommendations concerning the top priorities for the implementation of NextGen. In its report, RTCA advocated a collaborative approach to the development and optimization of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures that result in measurable benefit. RTCA also recommended the integrated development of PBN procedures and airspace in order to deliver the most efficient operation. The FAA responded to these recommendations with the Metroplex initiative.   

Metroplex provides an integrated, systematic, repeatable approach to the design and implementation of PBN procedures and associated airspace changes. Metroplex projects focus on a specific geographic area and the airspace, airports and operations within that area. The primary goal of a Metroplex project is to increase operational efficiency and enable near-term operational benefits. Metroplex applies established criteria and processes to make use of existing aircraft and Air Traffic Control (ATC) capabilities. A key feature of Metroplex projects is the integration of PBN procedure and airspace design. The FAA’s Director of Airspace Services determines Metroplex site selection and prioritization with input from the stakeholder community.  

All ongoing Metroplex projects are currently working to meet project milestones with a Metroplex program funding termination (sunset) date of September 30, 2021. To date, the OAPM (Metroplex) MOU and current collaborative co-lead structure has remained unchanged (status quo). The Denver Metroplex implemented on March 26, 2020 and is currently in the post-implementation phase. The Denver team is currently working on design amendments with industry input in preparation for approval from FAA environmental and legal to move forward. Some minor procedure amendments are still on track for a December 2020 publication even though the project is scheduled to be closed out on October 30, 2020. COVID-19 issues have resulted in the delaying of the scheduled May 21, 2020 implementation of the Las Vegas Metroplex. NATCA and the agency have agreed to slip the implantation date to February 25, 2021 barring further complications from the pandemic. Workforce training for Las Vegas Metroplex is dependent on facility Los Angeles Center (ZLA), Las Vegas Tracon (L30), resource availability and access for external support, which is currently on track and has been green lit by AJT and NATCA. The Las Vegas Metroplex Environmental Assessment (EA) Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision (FONSI/ROD) was signed on July 7, 2020. The final EA FONSI/ROD for the Florida Metroplex was signed on October 15, 2020. The team is still on track for implementations in April and August 2021.   

Due to the organizational restructure with AJV (FAA Mission Support Services), the agency policy and strategy decisions now reside at the FAA HQ level while project execution belongs to the Service Centers. The Agency is now implementing the transition plan for moving the authorizations and approvals of PBN projects from HQ to each of the three service centers.  COVID-19 issues have further slowed, and in most cases, halted PBN single-site work. Atlantic Coast Routes (ACR), Northeast Corridor initiative (NEC) and VOR Minimal Operating Network (VOR MON) initiatives have been identified as agency priorities and are moving forward while still recognizing facility resource constraints. Agency-wide re-prioritization of NAS initiatives/activities is still currently ongoing. NATCA is also participating in workgroup activities to review, evaluate, and assess current PBN and IFP processes to provide recommendation(s) to NATCA/FAA workgroup sponsors by December 10, 2020.  

Central Service Center (CSC) Performance Based Navigation (PBN)   

Eric Johnson is the Article 114 Representative for CSC PBN.   

Background: PBN Co-Leads are responsible for the oversight of designing, developing, and implementing PBN procedures and/or routes. Using a collaborative work group structure, PBN Co-Leads are also responsible for organizing work group activities and making every effort to reach agreement through a group consensus. Each FAA Service Center is represented by an FAA and NATCA Co-Lead, with the exception of the Eastern Service Center, which has two sets of Co-Leads due to the high demand of PBN resources for ongoing national initiatives.  

The PBN team met on October 14th with the ECINA team and the Great Lakes Regional Administrator. The meeting was to review the Community Involvement that will be conducted prior to the Columbus (CMH) project publishing. The Regional Administrator (RA) determined that a short video should be produced to disseminate to the community like the one that was produced for Chicago (ORD).  The Co-Leads attended a meeting hosted by Louisville  (SDF) to listen in on a conversation with UPS about RNP and EoR operations. SDF and United Parcel Service (UPS) are looking to move forward with implementing EoR in the future.  The SDF project-scoping document has been finalized by the co-leads and we will be working on next steps this month.  PBN met with Austin (AUS) on October 22 to address some last-minute changes to the RNP approaches to 18L/R that are publishing in April. The changes were driven by a MAGVAR runway number change, but several criteria issues were identified that AIS wanted corrected. The Central Service Area (CSA) PBN team attended several meetings hosted by the Eastern Service Area (ESA) to discuss providing support to the ESA for their VORMON activities. Discussions are ongoing. I attended the Aeronautical Charting Meeting on October 28th and 29th. Several topics were discussed that pertain to PBN and the meeting was very educational. I participated in multiple meetings with the CSA FPT and ECINA team regarding a unified approach within the CSA OSG for conventional and PBN environmental/CI processes. Once we can resume normal PBN workgroup activities that are not related to VORMON or safety, meetings will occur for the CVG and SAT projects. The San Antonio PBN project has been rescheduled to publish in the 5/19/22 charting cycle because of COVID-19 impacts. This will also give us time to review the draft designs with Houston Center (ZHU), Fort Worth Center (ZFW), San Antonio Tower (SAT), American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. The San Antonio designs have been completed and ready for Community Involvement for quite some time, but the project has been impacted by shutdowns, funding shortfalls, and now COVID-19. An Industry and Facility procedure review will be the first KSAT activity scheduled once the facilities can support external activities.  

Eastern Service Center (ESC) PBN   

Joey Tinsley is the Article 114 Representative for ESC PBN.   

The ESC PBN Co-Leads are working on multiple projects to include VORMON, NEC ACR (Northeast Corridor Atlantic Coast Routes), CHS STARs/SIDs, NY Area STARs/SIDs, PHL STARs/SIDs, and BOS Massport. These projects are all moving at a very fast pace with most of them scheduled for publication within the next 8 months. The CHS STARs/SIDs and a few NY Area STARs are being implemented on 11/5/20; along with 8 Q-Routes and 11 J-Route removals/modifications. The remaining NEC ACR implementation has shifted to the fall of 2021 due to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic.  

The Boston Center (ZBW) VORMON project is moving forward with a few T-Routes being published on 11/5/20 and some more amendments taking place on 6/17/21. The Atlanta Center (ZTL) VORMON project is still in the planning stages. Contact has been made with Atlanta Tracon (A80), ZTL, Montgomery (MGM), and Burmingham (BHM), but we still need to reach out to Augusta (AGS), Charlotte (CLT), Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP), Ashville-Regional (AVL), Tri Cities (TRI), Chattanooga (CHA) and Huntsville (HSV) Tracons. We are having Core Work Group telcons to evaluate everything that needs to happen to decommission the VORs within ZTL. Looks like the earliest we will be able to plan any remote meetings for ZTL VORMON is early December.  

The BOS Massport project has SIDs designed that are awaiting the approval of the BOS CAC (Community Advisory Committee). The RA (Regional Administrator) is having weekly telcons involving the CAC to get a conscious of the designs. The Community has been advised the earliest these procedures can now be published is March 2022. Massport has also been working with our team on the Block 2 recommendations. Our team provided preliminary feedback on the Block 2 recommendations, which was met with many questions from Massport and MIT.  

Western Service Center (WSC) Performance Based Navigation (PBN)   

Chris Thomas is the Article 114 Representative for WSC PBN.   

Background: PBN Co-Leads are responsible for the oversight of designing, developing, and implementing PBN procedures and/or routes. Using a collaborative work group structure, PBN Co-Leads are also responsible for organizing work group activities and making every effort to reach agreement through a group consensus. Each FAA Service Center is represented by an FAA and NATCA Co-Lead, with the exception of the Eastern Service Center, which has two sets of Co-Leads due to the high demand of PBN resources for ongoing national initiatives.  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, correspondence with Air Traffic facilities and their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) have been significantly curtailed. Routine team meetings, administrative tasks, and daily correspondence with Co-Leads is still ongoing. In an effort to resume a steady workflow, the team’s focus has shifted toward primarily addressing abbreviated Instrument Flight Procedure amendments and other less SME/resource intensive PBN tasks. Over the last month, WSA PBN has identified several projects that may need special consideration for SME participation soon.  

Denver Metroplex 

Last week the WSA received a briefing from the Denver Metroplex for their closeout. At this time, all post-implementation design work has been completed by the Metroplex team. We will continue to monitor those procedures and work with the Denver facilities when needed to support their post implementation work.  

Oakland (OAK) 

There has been a lot of attention recently over the HUSSH SID and WNDSR STAR from the Oakland Airport and surrounding communities. We have been working with leadership at the Western Service Area to address some of their concerns and to respond to a congressional inquiry. These procedures have been an issue for several months and will need to be worked in some type of Full Work Group with facility SMEs.  

San Francisco (SFO) San Jose (SJC) 

The SURFR at SFO and the BRIXX at SJC are still being worked by the FPT. We are considering our options and hoping to at least get the BRIXX STAR implemented in the very near future. Considering this procedure is a Safety issue that’s been identified by Western ERC through ATSAP it remains a high priority for us. The SERFR STAR will require some redesign work and we will need to meet with facility SMEs in order to finish it.  

Alaska T-Routes – Work continues on updating T-Routes in Alaska. We have been doing communication surveys on proposed routes. Delays in implementation will happen due to Flight Check restrictions. We need to schedule a Full Work Group meeting with Alaska facilities to complete this work. Tentative schedule for that meeting is early December 2020 provided we have permission to use facility SMEs.  

Graceland VOR MON (ESA Project) – We’ve had two additional meetings this month with ESA concerning Graceland VOR MON project. There is still no clear direction on how ESA wants to utilize us to support their project. The WSA FPT Manager informed me earlier this week she would be discussing this with her counterpart in ESA. At this time, she plans to pull back our support for this project and just have us continue focus on WSA projects.  

Remaining WSA projects – When we can loosen some of the restrictions caused by the current COVID situation there are several projects that will need our attention. We continue to work on issues that don’t require facility resources or travel requirements, however there is a lot of work that needs to be done in multiple facilities soon.  

Additional Issues:  

This month we have had several inquiries by either the Regional Administrator, WSA Director, or Headquarters to address questions they’ve received from various sources. It has become very clear to me that while trying to find answers to address these issues our note taking has suffered during work group meetings.  I believe this is because we no longer have proper support at our meetings to take notes. We have tasked our Tetra-Tech support to take on additional duties as note takers as well as designing procedures. Through no fault of their own, these additional duties have seemed to cause a lot of information to be lost during our work group meetings. I strongly believe we need additional NISC support to help with meeting notes and organization. This support would also be very beneficial for project tracking and help support keeping projects on timelines.  

It’s also become very clear that as we transition out of COVID there is going to be a huge backlog of projects requiring flight inspections. The current requirement for Flight Check to only fly projects that are safety related or require approval is creating a backlog and will eventually delay projects down the road.  

Denver Metroplex   

Adam Kuklin is the NATCA Article 114 Representative for Denver Metroplex. 

Background: The original Denver 2012 Area Navigation (RNAV) project was one of the first large-scale RNAV projects in the NAS. NATCA and the FAA collaboratively decided to study if improvements could be made to the airspace and procedures after the 2012 RNAV project. After completing this study, it was determined that enough potential benefit could be gained to move forward with a Metroplex project in Denver.  

 Denver Metroplex closed out on October 30, 2020. Weekly telcons with leads, available POCs and contractors have been taking place since the March 26, 2020 implementation ending with the final meeting on October 28, 2020. Closeout/hand off briefings were conducted between October 20th and 30th. Denver (DEN), Denver Tracon (D01), Denver Center (ZDV), Western Service Area (WSA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) /Colorada Aviation Business Association (CABA) and carrier partners received the briefing.  4 amendments have been finalized and submitted for April 2021 publication. 4 amendments have been finalized and submitted for June 2021 publication. 10 amendments for have been designed and submitted to environmental for review. Denver Metroplex has slots reserved for August 2021 publication, but the procedures are not assigned yet.  These include 8 STAR amendments to redesign converging runway transitions that included safety cases from ZDV and industry partners. The designs mirror historic flight tracks, and the expectation is that there will be no noise issues. There is a pending lawsuit from the initial implementation. The details of the lawsuit are not known and the recently released briefing schedule begins November 23, 2020 and ends March 12, 2021. It is unclear what, if any, impact the litigation will have on these amendments. In the October 30 briefing with industry, Ron Renk (United Airlines) expressed some frustration with the ability to make changes to some of the procedures in line with their most recent concerns. While the converging piece was finished and sent off as a proposal, the issue of STAR terminus lower than approach IAF on two STARs was left unfinished. There were initial discussions and preliminary design work but no resolution was achieved. With the late introduction of this issue by industry (first in February, again in May) along with the combination of continued Covid scheduling and the end date of the project there is work left to be done. Mr. Renk also voiced his hope that the work would not fall off once the Metroplex label was removed. MITRE presented a quick look benefits analysis of four measurables – STAR balancing, runway clearance changes, procedure conformance and level flight. The numbers provided represent a six-week window where DEN operated at no higher than 77% of normal traffic. As such, the agency has asked that the final analysis be done later. While the items measured appear to be positive, higher sustained volume and a deeper dive into some of the metrics are required.  

MITRE’s lessons learned survey has been distributed to the facilities. There has been some response, but we are going have one more round of invites. We are looking to impose a deadline mid-November with a tentative December 2, 2020 date for a Core Team/POC briefing. MITRE is contracted to work with Denver Metroplex through the end of 2020 and will be aiding with the procedure review for the December 31, 2020 publication. We are tentatively scheduling this meeting for December 2, 2020 as well. MITRE is obligated to provide final benefits analysis. Date TBD Pending litigation and environmental reviews could potentially lead to community involvement, design meetings and facility input. Whatever help can be provided by the Metroplex program would be no doubt be greatly appreciated by all involved. It has been quite the ride over the past 6+ years on this project. Thank you NATCA for the opportunity to participate and the invaluable experience.  

Florida Metroplex   

Christian Karns is the Article 114 Representative for Florida Metroplex.   

Background: The Florida Metroplex project consist of two projects. One project is tasked with design and implementation of new Q & Y routes to replace existing J-Routes. The second project is the design and implementation of new Standard Terminal Arrivals (STARs) and Standard Instrument Departures. (SIDS) The intent for the STARs and SIDs is to make them Optimized Profile Descents (OPD) and Climb Via.   

Oct 5th – 9th. Worked on bucketing comments with Core Team. Still working on the exact total, but current count is 3,239. We have completed going through the letters and providing the responses. Worked with Orlando Tracon (F11) and Jacksonville Center (ZJX) as well as Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Orlando (MCO) on Letter of Agreement (LOA) negotiations. MITRE is looking into an analysis of design criteria (wind spiral) for Florida Metroplex. Oct 12th – 16th. FINISHED WORKING ON COMMENTS! Final total is 3239. All documentation for the Final EA (Environmental Assessment) delivered to ATAC on October 13, 2020. The Notice of Availability was signed on October 14, and the FONSI/ROD was signed on October 15. We had to change the number of procedures to implement on April 22, 2021 from 71 procedures to 54 procedures because of same fix names being used on SIAPs and STARs. We have coordinated with FPT and AJV-A to update the plan. We still have three cancelations planned for April 22, 2021. We have a backup plan of procedures from POCs that can be implemented in April without Lab time, if needed. However, the plan is to go forward as if the controllers will be able to train in the lab. We have scheduled Ann Newton (HSI) to travel to Jacksonville Center (ZJX) the first two weeks of November to teach controllers Eram Scenario Generation Training (SGET). Worked with West Palm Beach (PBI) and Miami Center (ZMA) on LOA negotiations. Briefed Regional Administrator (RA), AJT and Eastern Service Center (ESC) Directors, DDSO, Airports, AOC, AGI, and AGC on the status of Florida Metroplex. No concerns at this point. Oct 19th – 23rd. Reviewed MITRE’s analysis of Wind Spirals for Florida Metroplex. We will be able to adjust a few without impact to environmental, but others we will still need to ask for a waiver. We participated in a briefing with RA for the Airport Authorities on the status of Florida Metroplex. We requested the news briefing be emailed to them once it is released. We requested the Flight Inspection schedule. Held meeting with ATAC, P&R Requirement’s specialist, P&R Airspace PIM, and Spectrum to get a better idea of what, if any infrastructure work is needed. We had to schedule another meeting for Wednesday, October 28, 2020 to finalize the discussion. Oct 26th – 30th. Final EA and FONSI/ROD is on the website. Reviewed MITRE’s analysis of Wind Spirals for Florida Metroplex. The following procedures are still going to require waivers o PBI- MIXAE, OLAKE, SLIDZ, TBIRD o FLL- AARPS, FEELX, REGAE, SNAPR o MIA- VACAY Held meeting with ATAC, P&R Requirement’s specialist, P&R Airspace PIM, and Spectrum to get a better idea of what, if any infrastructure work is needed. The information had been turned in almost a year ago, so we needed to review and update the specialist clarified there are two separate implementation dates scheduled another meeting on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 to check in on progress Met with ATCSCC (Cliff Keirce and Mike Chambers) to provide status and get deadlines for Pref Routes, CDRs, and Playbook.  

Las Vegas Metroplex  

Jeff Plendl is the Article 114 Representative for Las Vegas Metroplex.  

Background: The recommendation to include the Las Vegas area into a Metroplex was decided in a September 2009 Final Report from the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) Task Force 5. The report identified McCarran Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas as a Core airport and provided recommendations to optimize the airspace and procedures around Las Vegas. Subsequently, In May 2012 an Operational Study Team (OST) was formed. In August of 2017, a Design and Implementation (D&I) team was formed to address identified operational and efficiency issues. Design work continued through February 2019. Since then, the Las Vegas Metroplex has been working through the Evaluation and Implementation phases of the project. Implementation date is currently scheduled for November 5, 2020.  

All three facilities have received approval from John Nelson, District GM, and Nate Pair, NATCA WP ARVP, to commence training if they follow the guidelines as set out in the Las Vegas Metroplex Training Plan submitted to FAA HQ and NATCA National. The training plan mirrors the FAA and NATCA’s OJT Resumption Plan for FAA Facilities, to include that facilities cannot go over 50% capacity of their training labs without a waiver request approved by the GM and NATCA ARVP. Las Vegas Tower needs to exceed the 50% capacity rule and has submitted a request to John Nelson, GM, and Nate Pair, NATCA ARVP. The GM and NATCA ARVP both approved the request. However, John Nelson forwarded the request up to Jeff Stewart and Joel Ortiz, NATCA WP RVP. We are still awaiting their approval.   

Las Vegas Tower is to begin Cadre and Contract Support Training on November 8. The facilities will begin to transition to MOU schedules and the NATCA POCs and SMEs will start working on the project again in the coming weeks. 

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