Well, here it is: the long-awaited details of the FAA’s proposed addition of Class C airspace to Long Beach:
I’m not sure this airspace addition will reduce the risk of a midair collision. In fact, I think it might do just the opposite. While ostensibly protecting airplanes on the instrument approaches to runway 30, it will force non-participating aircraft into a smaller chunk of sky.
I’ve heard they are expecting to implement this change without much, if any, increase in staffing at Socal Approach. Considering the volume of traffic in and around Long Beach, I can only assume Socal will be unable to provide services to aircraft in local practice areas. This will force them down below 2400 feet over the harbor, and below 1500 feet off the Huntington Beach coast. At that altitude, they will be mixing it up with banner towers and helicopters. In addition, lower altitudes equate decreased glide distance for single engine airplanes. So they will stick closer to the coast, causing further congestion.
Transiting aircraft will be forced upward and having to live in the airspace between 3500 and 4900 feet. Should training aircraft elect to fly above the Class C airspace, that will add to the logjam as well.
It’s also worth noting that these are the aircraft which are most likely to be flying without traffic detection equipment.
There are a few other odd things about this proposal. The Los Alamitos class D airspace appears to be reduced to a pie-shaped slice. I’ve not seen that before. The west side of the field will be class C while the east side remains class D.
Speaking of Los Alamitos, I can’t help but wonder how this will affect the Medfly operations in and out of that airfield. Our operations probably contribute to the perceived need for this airspace. We routinely fly in and out of Los Al to the south at 1000′ MSL. We have north/south regions over that area which we fly at 1000′ and/or 2100′. These are standard procedures for us, all of which were designed with ATC’s input and which we fly while talking to them and with their full assent. It may give the airliners an occasional RA (resolution advisory) or two, but I’ve never felt it was in any way unsafe.
There are certainly times when adding airspace is necessary. For example, I wouldn’t mind seeing a class D tower added at Corona. But I’m not sure this Long Beach thing is such a good idea.
I’d be interested to hear from other Socal pilots. What’s your take on this proposal?