All those in the North Texas aviation industry should be aware of the impending changes to the DFW class B airspace. Of most concern is the lowering of the class B to 2500 MSL over Addison airport. Currently, Addison’s class D is up to but not including 3000 MSL, which given the airport’s elevation only leaves 2356 feet of space to work with. In order to stay 1,000 feet above congested areas, this means only 1356 feet are open for transients, departures and arrivals. If the airspace change goes through, there would only be 856 feet of space for aircraft ranging from Gulfstream Vs to B-29s (yes, Fifi is based at Addison). The amount of fractional, corporate, cargo, charter and flight training activity at Addison makes it the busiest GA airport in Texas and one of the top 5 GA airports in the nation.
In my usual caustic opinion, this method of managing traffic is just lazy. Instead of utilizing the 8000 feet of vertical space in the class B above Addison’s airspace, they’re opting to just bring aircraft heading to Dallas Love in lower. Vectoring Love’s traffic off to the west may help but would most likely add flight time to those arrivals. Provided the vector was given when the aircraft were still far enough back from the final approach course (basically I-35 in visual conditions), the extra time would not be substantial. However, by sending Love arrivals further to the west, there may be conflicts with Dallas/Fort Worth arrivals from the south when the terminal area is in a south flow (Cedar Creek Six STAR).
There is a wasteful habit in use nationwide of bringing turbine powered arrivals into a terminal area at relatively low altitudes in excess of 30nm away from the destination airport. The standard reason given is to provide separation between arrivals and departures. Given the performance of most modern jets and the unique inbound/outbound deconfliction already in place here in the DFW class B, this argument is without logic.
Another reason given, usually by pilots, is that jets need to configure early to be set up for the approach. While it is true that a 757 needs more space than a Piper Warrior, they do not require 30nm to set up. Turbine aircraft don’t have problems with shock-cooling, so long, shallow approaches are not required from a powerplant standpoint. They also feature speedbrakes and multiple levels of flap selection to aid in slowing down (many jets are so clean they can’t “slow down and go down” at the same time without help).
As you can see, I’m leading you towards a certain line of thinking. I’ve been playing with a concept for the last few years in how to utilize airspace more efficiently that is based on steeper initial approaches to terminal areas. If it can be used by even a fraction of operators in the DFW area (namely the high speed jets going to Love), it would alleviate much of the congestion. Please take a look over at my other site, Semper Apollo for the full article. I also urge you to think of other solutions for this airspace issue and send your comments to the FAA. All those who have a vested interest in aviation need to make their voices heard and work together for a mutually beneficial resolution.
To understand more on how Class B is designed, AOPA has a good article on the subject. Of particular interest to our situation is the section on “Floor Of The Class B” and “dangerously compressed situations”.