Establishment of Class D and E Airspace; Brookshire, TX, 65270-65274 [2016-22723]

Download as PDF 65270 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 184 / Thursday, September 22, 2016 / Rules and Regulations PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g); 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959–1963 Comp., p. 389. § 71.1 [Amended] 2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.11A, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2016, and effective September 15, 2016, is amended as follows: ■ Paragraph 6002 Class E Airspace Designated as Surface Areas. * * * * * AWP CA E2 Truckee, CA [New] Truckee-Tahoe Airport, CA (Lat. 39°19′12″ N., long. 120°08′22″ W.) That airspace extending upward from the surface within a 4.2-mile radius of TruckeeTahoe Airport. Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward from 700 feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. * * * * * AWP CA E5 Truckee, CA [Modified] Truckee-Tahoe Airport, CA (Lat. 39°19′12″ N., long. 120°08′22″ W.) That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 4.2-mile radius of Truckee-Tahoe Airport, and within 2 miles each side of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport 015° bearing extending from the 4.2mile radius to 19 miles north of the airport, and within 2 miles each side of the airport 328° bearing extending from the 4.2-mile radius to 16.5 miles northwest of the airport. Issued in Seattle, Washington, on August 16, 2016. Richard Roberts, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group, Western Service Center. [FR Doc. 2016–22726 Filed 9–21–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES [Docket No. FAA–2014–0742; Airspace Docket No. 14–ASW–5] Establishment of Class D and E Airspace; Brookshire, TX Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:00 Sep 21, 2016 Jkt 238001 This action establishes Class D airspace, Class E surface area airspace, and Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Brookshire, TX, to accommodate the new air traffic control tower at Houston Executive Airport. The FAA is taking this action for the safe and efficient use of the airspace to contain Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) arrival and departure operations at the airport. DATES: Effective 0901 UTC, November 10, 2016. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.11 and publication of conforming amendments. ADDRESSES: FAA Order 7400.11A, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at https://www.faa.gov/ air_traffic/publications/. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: 1–800–647–5527, or 202– 267–8783. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of FAA Order 7400.11A at NARA, call 202–741–6030, or go to https:// www.archives.gov/federal_register/ code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_ locations.html. FAA Order 7400.11, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Raul Garza, Jr., Central Service Center, Operations Support Group, Federal Aviation Administration, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone: (817) 222– 5874. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Authority for This Rulemaking The FAA’s authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. 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 Subtitle VII, Part, A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it establishes PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 controlled airspace at Houston Executive Airport, Brookshire, TX. History On March 28, 2016, the FAA published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish Class D and Class E Airspace at Houston Executive Airport, Brookshire, TX (81 FR 17114) Docket No. FAA–2014–0742. Houston Executive Airport opened an operating control tower October 1, 2014. Federal regulations (14 CFR 91.126, 91.127, and 91.129) establish airspace requirements around an operating tower. Interested parties were invited to participate in three informal meetings with the local community held on June 17, June 18, and December 15, 2015, during the course of establishing this airspace, and in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on the proposal to the FAA. 146 comments were received by the end of the comment period May 12, 2016. An additional five comments were received after the comment period (one having 322 signatures on a petition opposing the upper altitude limit of 2,700 feet MSL; the petition supports 2,000 feet MSL as acceptable and safer). One commenter requested to withdraw his request. Of the 150 comments, many voiced opinions on different aspects of the proposal as described in more detail below. Summary of Comments The FAA received multiple comments from 150 commenters that have been grouped to reflect general subject areas. The groups are categorized as follows; 1. Support of the Class D proposal at 2,500 feet 2. Support of the Class D airspace at 2,000 feet 3. Support of the Class D proposal at 1,700 feet 4. Support for Class D at 2,500 but with Full Circle (4 miles) Airspace without cutout for Sport Flyers Airport 5. Concerns of east-west VFR corridor compression 6. Increase airspace to match Class B airspace 7. Support for Class E airspace only 8. No support for any change to the present airspace allocation 9. Airspace compression in the northeast quadrant under Class B 1. Comment: Support of the Class D proposal at 2,500 feet. Fifty-one comments supported the proposal, as is, with a top of 2,500 feet MSL. The positive comments ranged from support of the proposal at 2,500 feet MSL to extending and expanding E:\FR\FM\22SER1.SGM 22SER1 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 184 / Thursday, September 22, 2016 / Rules and Regulations controlled airspace to 2,700 feet MSL. One commenter proposed to increase the upper limit to 2,700 feet MSL. There were a variety of reasons cited in support of the proposal, including the following: (a) Confusing to have an air traffic control tower but no Class D airspace surrounding the airport. Establishing class D airspace on the FAA sectionals charts will better identify the air traffic control tower to our transient and overflying aircraft. (b) The air traffic control tower will enhance the safety of the operations and support the continued growth of the airport. Standard clearance from Houston Executive Airport is to maintain heading to 2,000 feet. Don’t want aircraft at 2,100 feet. Aircraft transitioning along I–10 are in the direct flight path of departing traffic off TME RWY 18. Aircraft flying over I–10 at 2,000 feet without communicating with the tower could easily result in mid-air collision with departing traffic. (c) Limiting airspace to 2,000 feet will only encourage pilots to transition the airspace with no communication, which is dangerous. (d) A few miles north of the airport the Class B airspace begins at 3,000 feet but the majority of the Class B area over the airport is 4,000 feet. (e) Simply requesting a transition to the tower will make everyone aware of the transitioning aircraft. (f) The airspace is usually congested with pilots landing or departing Houston Executive Airport or nearby airports and pilots flying VFR along I–10 at 2,500 feet Class D ceiling is the ceiling pilots have been taught to fly. (g) Should declare the full circle of 4 NM radius as Class D, including surface to 2,700 feet MSL as done at KHY, KAFW, KFWS, KADS. (h) The rule if adopted would make the controlled airspace around Houston Executive Airport consistent with comparable towered airfields in the U.S. Sugarland and Conroe were given higher ceiling altitudes than 2,500 feet. (i) Houston Executive Airport is only airport on the west side of Houston on the I–10 corridor with the ability to handle large cabin class aircraft and a runway length of 6,610 feet. (j) Not true that having the top of the Class D airspace at 2,500 feet ‘‘squeezes VFR aircraft into a narrow band.’’ It is a simple matter to call Houston Executive Tower and coordinate a clearance to transit the Class D airspace or call Houston Approach and get a clearance to transit through the Class B airspace. Support for Class D Airspace, but radar is necessary. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:00 Sep 21, 2016 Jkt 238001 FAA response: An operating tower that meets 14 CFR part 91 regulations is entitled to the establishment of airspace around the tower. Houston Executive Airport (TME) became operational on October 1, 2014. Unless otherwise authorized or required by ATC, 14 CFR 91.126 and FAA Order 7400.2 states that no person may operate an aircraft to, from, or through, an airport having an operational control tower unless twoway radio communications are maintained between that aircraft and the control tower. Communications must be established prior to 4-nautical miles from the airport, up to and including 2,500 feet AGL. Although the FAA initially considered a top altitude of 2,700 feet, based on feedback from the first informal meeting and considerations for the safe and efficient use of airspace, the FAA determined that 2,500 feet, as provided in 14 CFR 91.126, is an appropriate altitude for the operations at the airport based on further information received from informal meetings, radar operating practices, and surveillance equipment. The airspace was tailored to provide minimum inconvenience while optimizing safety. Radar equipment is not a requirement for a control tower. This particular tower is a Non Federal Contract Tower; the FAA is not responsible for providing this type of equipment. Currently, airport traffic activity does not meet the threshold for establishing a radar environment. 2. Comment: Support of the Class D airspace at 2,000 feet. Seventy-six comments opposed the 2,500-foot top and another 322 signed a late-filed petition opposing the altitude of 2,500 feet. This group of 398 did support the creation of the airspace if the top altitude was 2,000 feet MSL. They said reducing tower coordination with a 2,000-foot altitude, and allowing for more separation of airspace between Class B and Class D, would provide a greater and safer transition for aircraft flying along Houston’s east/west corridor. Some of the reasons for limiting top of airspace to 2,000 included: (a) Other airports (DWH, HQZ, GKY, and SGR) have a top altitude of 2,000 feet. (b) A 2,500 foot MSL will severely restrict approaches and departures at IWS. (c) A 2,000 foot ceiling or lower could lessen the effect on the KIWS traffic located 12 NM E of TME, which has a high proportion of VFR and sport pilot traffic. Most IFR departures from KIWS (Runway 15) are cleared to enter controlled airspace heading 270 degrees at 2,000 feet. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 65271 (d) Industry standard for Class D is a tower with a 4-NM radius and 2,000 feet MSL. (e) The most commonly used altitudes are around 1,500 feet; this ensures clearance along the entire route of class B at 2,000 feet and 1000 feet minimum altitude over densely populated terrain. It is also common for westbound traffic to stay just north of I–10 and east-bound traffic stays south of I–10. Much of this VFR traffic doesn’t want to communicate with the KTME tower. The wisdom of providing only 500 feet of space between the top of class D and the base of Class B (3,000 feet MSL) within two Victor Airways is in question. By establishing the upper limit of the Class D Airspace to 2,000 feet MSL, pilots would have a 500-foot separation from traffic in both Class B and Class D airspace, instead of only 250 feet separation under the proposal. FAA response: Transiting VFR aircraft are able to fly through this airspace at 2,000 feet by establishing radio communications and receiving approval by the tower based on the air traffic situation. The same aircraft can fly over the airspace at 2,501 feet without communicating with the tower. The potential for aircraft to be departing Houston Executive Airport and climbing to 2,000 feet with aircraft overflying the same area at 2,001 feet does not provide an adequate safety net. Although there was a comment that Sugar Land Airport had a 2,000 foot top altitude, a review of this comment reveals a top altitude up to, but not including 2,600 feet. David Wayne Hooks Airport does have up to but not including a 2,000 foot top altitude; however, this airport underlies Class B airspace that begins at 2,000 feet. An IFR exit to the west of DWH is capped at 2,000 feet. In making its decision, the FAA reviewed the operations at the airport, informal meeting notes, radar operating practices, and surveillance equipment. With respect to the comment about victor airways, they are in a small section of the class D footprint. Approximately 10 percent underlie Class B Shelf at 3,000 feet. Controlled traffic on V–68 and V–222 will be at 3,000 feet or higher. VFR aircraft are knowledgeable about these airways and are to maneuver themselves to be clear of other aircraft, see and avoid. The airspace was tailored to provide minimum inconvenience while optimizing safety. The FAA has determined that 2,500 feet is an appropriate altitude to enhance safety and allow flexibility to the VFR pilot. 3. Comment: Support of the Class D proposal at 1,700 feet. One commenter supported Class D airspace with an altitude of 1,700 feet. E:\FR\FM\22SER1.SGM 22SER1 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 65272 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 184 / Thursday, September 22, 2016 / Rules and Regulations FAA response: 14 CFR 91.129 sets minimum altitudes when operating in Class D airspace, unless otherwise required, by the distance from cloud criteria; each pilot of a turbine-powered airplane and each pilot of a large airplane must climb to an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface as rapidly as possible. The FAA has determined that 2,500 feet is an appropriate altitude to enhance safety and allow flexibility to the VFR pilot. 4. Comment: Support for Class D at 2,500 feet but with Full Circle (4 miles) Airspace without Cutout for Sport Flyers Airport. FAA response: The informal meetings with the community resulted in reducing the size of the proposed Class D to its current cutout shape. This proposal reduces the allowed 4-nautical mile radius around TME to assist the operators transitioning in and out of Sport Flyers Airport without the need of establishing radio communications with TME. The proposed cutout also allows for accommodation of a private airstrip to the southwest of TME. This cutout complies with established rules in FAA Order 7400.2K Chapter 17–2–3, SATELLITE AIRPORTS, paragraph a. Using shelves and/or cutouts to the extent practicable, exclude satellite airports from the Class D airspace area. 5. Comment: Concerns of east-west VFR corridor compression. Forty-eight comments were received as to this loss of airspace and to the creation of airspace above 2,000 feet as a safety issue, having a major impact on the VFR community. They commented that the east/west corridor along I–10 has long been a familiar route for VFR pilots transitioning through the airspace for the last thirty years; they enjoy the visual reference and not having to communicate with small airports at the accustomed altitude of 2,000 feet. Comments included: (a) Compressing transient VFR traffic along I–10 corridor to 500′ vertically will increase risk of collision. (b) Will make flying cross country more stressful. (c) Proposed airspace is dangerous because it sits at the mouth or exit of the VFR corridor between the two huge Class B airspaces over Houston. (d) KTME does not need Class D because it does not have a lot of traffic and it is not for the common good of all. (e) Proposed airspace significantly reduces usable airspace for the majority to accommodate a few elite jets; Safety should be for the most pilots, not the richest. There are only a few IFR days where Class D might be beneficial; but there are many VFR flyers. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:00 Sep 21, 2016 Jkt 238001 (f) Class D should not be implemented until tower existence is published. (g) Will cause transition to South and cause flights and noise over residential areas of Katy, Cinco Ranch, and Brookshire. Should consider these alternatives: (1) No Class D; (2) Class D ceiling 1,500 AGL rather than 2,000 AGL; (3) Make southern border of Class D align with northern edge of I–10. (h) VFR traffic will deviate around the south side putting west and east-bound traffic on potential collision course for the following reasons: (1) By establishing Class D around KTME, this VFR traffic will choose to deviate around the south side of the proposed Class D. That will put westand east-bound traffic on a potential collision course. Although in practice VFR traffic is often at 1,500′ even this far out west, it could fly at a higher altitude. However, even the Houston VFR flyway chart encourages VFR traffic to stay below 2,500′ in this area. Adhering to that recommended altitude would still require a deviation south around the proposed KTME Class-D, so the safety concern noted above still stands. (2) VFR aircraft flying in opposite directions would normally have a 1,000 ft. separation between themselves (whole altitudes + 500 ft.). With only 1,500 foot above TME (2,500 ft to 4,000 ft) . . . what are the procedures for safe separation??? IFR are at the whole altitudes! So . . . If TME Class D has a ceiling of 2,500 ft, 2,600 ft to 3,900 ft is all that is left! In such a case. Only one VFR altitude is available [Eastbound: 3,500 ft] [FAR Part 91.159] and that leaves Westbound VFR traffic with dangerous choices. VFR traffic flying over TME at 2,100 with a 2,000 ft. corridor above TME is less likely than VFR traffic using 2,600 or 3,900 in a 1,500 ft. corridor. Westbound VFR won’t have any option that will give them more than 400 ft. separation from Eastbound VFR or IFR traffic. (i) Would have to drop 1,500 feet in order to land at West Houston Airport when coming from the West. Would we be better off with this traffic flying over Houston at 10,000 feet or around the Class B airspace? (j) This would interfere with all the commercial flights coming into IAH and HOU. (k) Directly effects VFR traffic on Victor airways. (l) Rather than speak with the tower at KTME, aircraft will in all likelihood divert either north or south. This then increases over flights to X09 and the Gloster (1XO7) skydive location JIM MAIM. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 (m) Eliminates practice area used by local pilots. (n) IFR has no priority over VFR in uncontrolled airspace. (o) Same result can be achieved by Class E controlled airspace to the ground, not just at nighttime like in this proposal, but for 24/24 instead of a daytime Class D. I would therefore propose to change the controlled airspace for KTME to Class E 24h instead of day Class D/Night Class E. (p) IFR pilots could use Hobby. (q) IFR pilots have the same obligation as VFR pilots to ‘‘See and Avoid’’ when in VMC. (r) Aircraft diverting either north or south would put aircraft closer to the instrument approaches for KTME. FAA response: The term corridor is generally used for the portion of I–10 that is underneath the Class B airspace; when the Class B airspace terminates, so does the corridor. It is important to note that the portion of the east/west I–10 corridor that lies inside the Class D does not underlie Class B. The VFR operation can still occur along I–10 either by circumnavigating the area approximately 14 flying miles or by establishing radio communications with the operating tower according to 14 CFR 91.126 or (if Class E airspace) 14 CFR 91.127. Since this area is not charted and the opening of TME was not widely known, the FAA has provided relief during this period by waiving the requirement to establish radio communications with the control tower during the airspace rulemaking process. 14 CFR 91.129 set minimum altitudes when operating in Class D airspace, unless otherwise required by the distance from cloud criteria, each pilot of a turbine-powered airplane and each pilot of a large airplane must climb to an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface as rapidly as possible. The distance needed to climb to 1,500 feet does not make the option to cap the southern border at I–10 feasible. VFR aircraft departing to and from West Houston Airport could have a normal climb/descent profile by communicating with TME tower and receiving permission to transition through the airspace; this should not be approved if aircraft activity is in the same area. This would maintain or increase safety from today’s environment. This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, including no significant noise impacts. No extraordinary circumstances exists that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment. When operating in VFR weather conditions, it is the pilot’s responsibility E:\FR\FM\22SER1.SGM 22SER1 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 184 / Thursday, September 22, 2016 / Rules and Regulations to be vigilant so as to see and avoid other aircraft (14 CFR 91.113(a)). The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) recommends that for aircraft 8,000 feet AGL and below, extra vigilance be maintained and that monitoring an appropriate control frequency is to the VFR pilot’s advantage to ‘‘get the picture of traffic in the area.’’ VFR pilots are to see and avoid other aircraft and to be extremely vigilant in congested VFR areas and Victor airways. Once again, an operating tower that meets the requirements of FAA Order 7400.2K, Chapter 17, is authorized Class D airspace. This proposal will have Class D airspace during tower operating hours and Class E surface area airspace during non-operating hours. The proposed altitude of 2,500 does not interfere with commercial traffic landing or departing IAH or HOU. The formal establishment of Class D airspace will allow for charting of the airspace dimensions and altitude which will provide notice to pilots to communicate or circumnavigate this area. The pilot will not be affected if the aircraft flies above 2,500 feet. The FAA acknowledges the inconvenience to the VFR pilot of flying at or above 2,500 feet and establishing radio communications with control towers. 14 CFR 91.126, Class G airspace; 14 CFR 91.127, Class E airspace require communication with the operating control tower (TME) unless otherwise authorized by ATC. The FAA does not agree that altitude compression will be constrained in this area since the floor of the Class B airspace is southeast of the proposed Class D airspace. 6. Comment: Three commenters stated that the proposed rulemaking (NPRM) should be to establish Class B Airspace in the Brookshire, TX area, instead of Class D and Class E Airspace. The commenters preferred to have the entire airspace controlled by the FAA. Some of the reasons cited in favor of Class B airspace were: (a) A few miles north of the airport, the Class B airspace begins at 3,000 feet but the majority of the Class B area over the airport is 4,000 feet. (b) Raising the top to meet the Class B further removes any confusion to transient traffic. (c) TME, with its physical location near Houston’s Corporate Energy Corridor and ample 6,610′ × 100′ runway, is attracting an ever growing number of larger and faster aircraft (turboprops and jets). (d) Class D airspace tends to have less recreational flyers and experimental traffic that tend to increase immediate airport traffic congestion and noise with constant circling for touch and goes, etc. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:00 Sep 21, 2016 Jkt 238001 FAA response: This airport and its location do not meet criteria for Class B airspace. 7. Comment: Supports Class E airspace only. Five comments received supported the proposal of 2,500 feet if the airspace would be classified as Class E airspace. FAA response: The requirement for VFR aircraft to establish radio communications is still in effect for Class G and/or Class E airspace; 14 CFR 91.126 and 14 CFR 91.127. Establishing the proposed Class D airspace will reduce the overall airspace dimensions. Approval to transit the area is still required; the benefit will be that all aircraft will have access to VFR charts and the airspace would be depicted. 14 CFR 91.127, Operating on or in the vicinity of an airport in Class E airspace, states: (c) Communications with control towers. Unless otherwise authorized or required by ATC, no person may operate an aircraft to, from, through or on an airport having an operational control tower unless two-way radio communications are maintained between that aircraft and the control tower. Communications must be established prior to 4 nautical miles from the airport, up to and including 2,500 feet AGL. However, if the aircraft radio fails in flight, the pilot in command may operate that aircraft and land if weather conditions are at or above basic VFR weather minimums, visual contact with the tower is maintained, and a clearance to land is received. If the aircraft radio fails while in flight under IFR, the pilot must comply with 14 CFR 91.185. 8. Comment: No support for any change to the present airspace allocation. Thirty-one comments received rejected the proposal entirely. An immediate return to the status quo was requested based on the long standing operations in this area. Additionally, many commenters cited the east/west I– 10 corridor and the compression of the VFR navigable air space in the northeast affected area as a concern. The majority of comments provided for an alternate choice of a top altitude of 2,000 feet. FAA response: The TME control tower opened October 1, 2014, and is operational; the status quo can no longer be maintained. The FAA is complying with all appropriate regulations. 9. Comment: Airspace compression in the northeast quadrant under Class B. Twenty comments received concerned the compression of navigable airspace under Class B and Class D airspace around TME. Cited were safety concerns for VFR aircraft to squeeze into PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 65273 an already congested airspace. The concerns were departures of airports underneath the Class B, practice areas for student training, and the airspace compression along the east west I–10 corridor. FAA response: The FAA has reviewed these concerns and agrees this is a compression of airspace with the establishment of Class D airspace. The proposal notes that 10 percent of the Class D footprint sits below the Class B shelf at 3,000 feet. The east/west I–10 corridor underlies Class B airspace; however, the portion of I–10 that does underlie the proposed Class D does not underlie Class B airspace. During the informal meetings this factor was taken into consideration and resulted in the proposed airspace being lowered from 2,700 feet to 2,500 feet to allow for more airspace. The compression to the northeast underlying Class B airspace is not considered the VFR corridor. The FAA believes this to have minimal impact on those aircraft that would have to fly around or over the proposed airspace. The tower at Houston Executive Airport is established and the Class D and E airspace areas are being provided according to federal regulations. The Class D proposal to reduce the allowed footprint of the airspace provides for safe and efficient use of airspace. Class D enhances safety by setting VFR weather minima specified in 14 CFR 91.155 and through the communications and other requirements in 14 CFR 91.129 (and 14 CFR 91.127 for E airspace). Once Class D airspace is charted, the information is accessible to all pilots. The FAA understands the concerns of the commenters. However, the FAA chose the upper limit of the airspace at 2,500 feet to establish higher weather minima for VFR aircraft, transitioning above the airspace thus restricting access to VFR flights in the airspace while IFR operations are in progress. VFR aircraft transitioning at 2,000 feet through the airspace will still be allowed to do so as long as radio communications are established with the tower prior to the aircraft entering the Class D airspace, and no additional conflicts with other airspace users arise. Class D and Class E airspace designations are published in paragraph 5000, 6002, and 6005, respectively, of FAA Order 7400.11A dated August 3, 2016, and effective September 15, 2016, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR part 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order. E:\FR\FM\22SER1.SGM 22SER1 65274 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 184 / Thursday, September 22, 2016 / Rules and Regulations Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference This document amends FAA Order 7400.11A, airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2016, and effective September 15, 2016. FAA Order 7400.11A is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. FAA Order 7400.11A lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points. The Rule This amendment to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 establishes Class D airspace, and Class E surface area airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 2,500 feet MSL within a 4mile radius of Houston Executive Airport, excluding that airspace west and northwest, to accommodate the establishment of an airport traffic control tower. This action reduces the allowed 4 nautical mile radius around Houston Executive Airport to assist the operators transitioning in and out of Sport Flyers Airport without the need of establishing radio communications with Houston Executive Airport. The proposed cutout also allows for accommodation for a private airstrip to the southwest of Houston Executive Airport. This amendment to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 also establishes Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet or more above the surface of the earth within a 6.6-mile radius of Houston Executive Airport, to accommodate standard instrument approach procedures. Controlled airspace is needed for the safety and management of IFR operations at the airport. Class D and E airspace areas are published in paragraph 5000, 6002, and 6005, respectively, of FAA Order 7400.11A, dated August 3, 2016, and effective September 15, 2016, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order. ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Regulatory Notices and Analyses The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. It, therefore: (1) Is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a ‘‘significant rule’’ under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:00 Sep 21, 2016 Jkt 238001 does not warrant preparation of a Regulatory Evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Environmental Review The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, ‘‘Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,’’ paragraph 5–6.5a. This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exists that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment. Lists of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71 Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air). Adoption of the Amendment In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows: PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS thereafter be continuously published in the Chart Supplement. * * * * * Paragraph 6002 Class E Airspace Designated as Surface Areas. ASW TX E2 Brookshire, TX [New] Houston Executive Airport, TX (Lat. 29°48′18″ N., long. 95°53′52″ W.) That airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 2,500 feet MSL bounded by a line beginning at lat. 29°46′44″ N., long. 95°58′06″ W., to lat. 29°47′35″ N., long. 95°55′49″ W., to lat. 29°51′55″ N., long. 95°55′52″ W., thence clockwise along the 4mile radius of Houston Executive Airport, to the point of beginning. This Class E airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Chart Supplement. * * * * * Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. ASW TX E5 Brookshire, TX [New] Houston Executive Airport, TX (Lat. 29°48′18″ N., long. 95°53′52″ W.) That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.6-mile radius of Houston Executive Airport. Issued in Fort Worth, TX, on September 14, 2016. Vonnie L. Royal, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center. [FR Doc. 2016–22723 Filed 9–21–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P 1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g); 40103, 40113, 40120, E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959–1963 Comp., p. 389. § 71.1 2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.11A, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2016, effective September 15, 2016, is amended as follows: ■ Class D Airspace. ASW TX D Brookshire, TX [New] Houston Executive Airport, TX (Lat. 29°48′18″ N., long. 95°53′52″ W.) That airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 2,500 feet MSL bounded by a line beginning at lat. 29°46′44″ N., long. 95°58′06″ W., to lat. 29°47′35″ N., long. 95°55′49″ W., to lat. 29°51′55″ N., long. 95°55′52″ W., thence clockwise along the 4mile radius of Houston Executive Airport to the point of beginning. This Class D airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4700 Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Amended] Paragraph 5000 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Sfmt 4700 [Docket No. FAA–2016–5388; Airspace Docket No. 16–ACE–4] Revocation of Class E Airspace; Alliance, NE; and Amendment of Class E Airspace for the Following Nebraska Towns; Albion, NE; Alliance, NE; Gothenburg, NE; Holdrege, NE; Imperial, NE; Lexington, NE; and Millard Airport, Omaha, NE Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This action removes Class E surface area airspace at Alliance Municipal Airport, Alliance, NE; and modifies Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Albion Municipal Airport, Albion, NE; Alliance Municipal Airport, Alliance, NE; Quinn Field, Gothenburg, SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22SER1.SGM 22SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 184 (Thursday, September 22, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 65270-65274]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-22723]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 71

[Docket No. FAA-2014-0742; Airspace Docket No. 14-ASW-5]


Establishment of Class D and E Airspace; Brookshire, TX

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This action establishes Class D airspace, Class E surface area 
airspace, and Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the 
surface at Brookshire, TX, to accommodate the new air traffic control 
tower at Houston Executive Airport. The FAA is taking this action for 
the safe and efficient use of the airspace to contain Instrument Flight 
Rule (IFR) arrival and departure operations at the airport.

DATES: Effective 0901 UTC, November 10, 2016. The Director of the 
Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under 
title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual 
revision of FAA Order 7400.11 and publication of conforming amendments.

ADDRESSES: FAA Order 7400.11A, Airspace Designations and Reporting 
Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. For further information, you can 
contact the Airspace Policy Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: 1-800-647-
5527, or 202-267-8783. The Order is also available for inspection at 
the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For 
information on the availability of FAA Order 7400.11A at NARA, call 
202-741-6030, or go to https://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html. FAA Order 7400.11, 
Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and 
effective on September 15.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Raul Garza, Jr., Central Service 
Center, Operations Support Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 
Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177; 
telephone: (817) 222-5874.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is 
found in Title 49 of the United States Code. 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 Subtitle VII, Part, A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, 
the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of 
airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient 
use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority 
as it establishes controlled airspace at Houston Executive Airport, 
Brookshire, TX.

History

    On March 28, 2016, the FAA published in the Federal Register a 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish Class D and Class E 
Airspace at Houston Executive Airport, Brookshire, TX (81 FR 17114) 
Docket No. FAA-2014-0742. Houston Executive Airport opened an operating 
control tower October 1, 2014. Federal regulations (14 CFR 91.126, 
91.127, and 91.129) establish airspace requirements around an operating 
tower. Interested parties were invited to participate in three informal 
meetings with the local community held on June 17, June 18, and 
December 15, 2015, during the course of establishing this airspace, and 
in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on the 
proposal to the FAA. 146 comments were received by the end of the 
comment period May 12, 2016. An additional five comments were received 
after the comment period (one having 322 signatures on a petition 
opposing the upper altitude limit of 2,700 feet MSL; the petition 
supports 2,000 feet MSL as acceptable and safer). One commenter 
requested to withdraw his request. Of the 150 comments, many voiced 
opinions on different aspects of the proposal as described in more 
detail below.

Summary of Comments

    The FAA received multiple comments from 150 commenters that have 
been grouped to reflect general subject areas. The groups are 
categorized as follows;

1. Support of the Class D proposal at 2,500 feet
2. Support of the Class D airspace at 2,000 feet
3. Support of the Class D proposal at 1,700 feet
4. Support for Class D at 2,500 but with Full Circle (4 miles) Airspace 
without cutout for Sport Flyers Airport
5. Concerns of east-west VFR corridor compression
6. Increase airspace to match Class B airspace
7. Support for Class E airspace only
8. No support for any change to the present airspace allocation
9. Airspace compression in the northeast quadrant under Class B

    1. Comment: Support of the Class D proposal at 2,500 feet.
    Fifty-one comments supported the proposal, as is, with a top of 
2,500 feet MSL. The positive comments ranged from support of the 
proposal at 2,500 feet MSL to extending and expanding

[[Page 65271]]

controlled airspace to 2,700 feet MSL. One commenter proposed to 
increase the upper limit to 2,700 feet MSL. There were a variety of 
reasons cited in support of the proposal, including the following:
    (a) Confusing to have an air traffic control tower but no Class D 
airspace surrounding the airport. Establishing class D airspace on the 
FAA sectionals charts will better identify the air traffic control 
tower to our transient and overflying aircraft.
    (b) The air traffic control tower will enhance the safety of the 
operations and support the continued growth of the airport. Standard 
clearance from Houston Executive Airport is to maintain heading to 
2,000 feet. Don't want aircraft at 2,100 feet. Aircraft transitioning 
along I-10 are in the direct flight path of departing traffic off TME 
RWY 18. Aircraft flying over I-10 at 2,000 feet without communicating 
with the tower could easily result in mid-air collision with departing 
traffic.
    (c) Limiting airspace to 2,000 feet will only encourage pilots to 
transition the airspace with no communication, which is dangerous.
    (d) A few miles north of the airport the Class B airspace begins at 
3,000 feet but the majority of the Class B area over the airport is 
4,000 feet.
    (e) Simply requesting a transition to the tower will make everyone 
aware of the transitioning aircraft.
    (f) The airspace is usually congested with pilots landing or 
departing Houston Executive Airport or nearby airports and pilots 
flying VFR along I-10 at 2,500 feet Class D ceiling is the ceiling 
pilots have been taught to fly.
    (g) Should declare the full circle of 4 NM radius as Class D, 
including surface to 2,700 feet MSL as done at KHY, KAFW, KFWS, KADS.
    (h) The rule if adopted would make the controlled airspace around 
Houston Executive Airport consistent with comparable towered airfields 
in the U.S. Sugarland and Conroe were given higher ceiling altitudes 
than 2,500 feet.
    (i) Houston Executive Airport is only airport on the west side of 
Houston on the I-10 corridor with the ability to handle large cabin 
class aircraft and a runway length of 6,610 feet.
    (j) Not true that having the top of the Class D airspace at 2,500 
feet ``squeezes VFR aircraft into a narrow band.'' It is a simple 
matter to call Houston Executive Tower and coordinate a clearance to 
transit the Class D airspace or call Houston Approach and get a 
clearance to transit through the Class B airspace. Support for Class D 
Airspace, but radar is necessary.
    FAA response: An operating tower that meets 14 CFR part 91 
regulations is entitled to the establishment of airspace around the 
tower. Houston Executive Airport (TME) became operational on October 1, 
2014. Unless otherwise authorized or required by ATC, 14 CFR 91.126 and 
FAA Order 7400.2 states that no person may operate an aircraft to, 
from, or through, an airport having an operational control tower unless 
two-way radio communications are maintained between that aircraft and 
the control tower. Communications must be established prior to 4-
nautical miles from the airport, up to and including 2,500 feet AGL.
    Although the FAA initially considered a top altitude of 2,700 feet, 
based on feedback from the first informal meeting and considerations 
for the safe and efficient use of airspace, the FAA determined that 
2,500 feet, as provided in 14 CFR 91.126, is an appropriate altitude 
for the operations at the airport based on further information received 
from informal meetings, radar operating practices, and surveillance 
equipment. The airspace was tailored to provide minimum inconvenience 
while optimizing safety. Radar equipment is not a requirement for a 
control tower. This particular tower is a Non Federal Contract Tower; 
the FAA is not responsible for providing this type of equipment. 
Currently, airport traffic activity does not meet the threshold for 
establishing a radar environment.
    2. Comment: Support of the Class D airspace at 2,000 feet.
    Seventy-six comments opposed the 2,500-foot top and another 322 
signed a late-filed petition opposing the altitude of 2,500 feet. This 
group of 398 did support the creation of the airspace if the top 
altitude was 2,000 feet MSL. They said reducing tower coordination with 
a 2,000-foot altitude, and allowing for more separation of airspace 
between Class B and Class D, would provide a greater and safer 
transition for aircraft flying along Houston's east/west corridor.
    Some of the reasons for limiting top of airspace to 2,000 included:
    (a) Other airports (DWH, HQZ, GKY, and SGR) have a top altitude of 
2,000 feet.
    (b) A 2,500 foot MSL will severely restrict approaches and 
departures at IWS.
    (c) A 2,000 foot ceiling or lower could lessen the effect on the 
KIWS traffic located 12 NM E of TME, which has a high proportion of VFR 
and sport pilot traffic. Most IFR departures from KIWS (Runway 15) are 
cleared to enter controlled airspace heading 270 degrees at 2,000 feet.
    (d) Industry standard for Class D is a tower with a 4-NM radius and 
2,000 feet MSL.
    (e) The most commonly used altitudes are around 1,500 feet; this 
ensures clearance along the entire route of class B at 2,000 feet and 
1000 feet minimum altitude over densely populated terrain. It is also 
common for westbound traffic to stay just north of I-10 and east-bound 
traffic stays south of I-10. Much of this VFR traffic doesn't want to 
communicate with the KTME tower. The wisdom of providing only 500 feet 
of space between the top of class D and the base of Class B (3,000 feet 
MSL) within two Victor Airways is in question. By establishing the 
upper limit of the Class D Airspace to 2,000 feet MSL, pilots would 
have a 500-foot separation from traffic in both Class B and Class D 
airspace, instead of only 250 feet separation under the proposal.
    FAA response: Transiting VFR aircraft are able to fly through this 
airspace at 2,000 feet by establishing radio communications and 
receiving approval by the tower based on the air traffic situation. The 
same aircraft can fly over the airspace at 2,501 feet without 
communicating with the tower. The potential for aircraft to be 
departing Houston Executive Airport and climbing to 2,000 feet with 
aircraft overflying the same area at 2,001 feet does not provide an 
adequate safety net. Although there was a comment that Sugar Land 
Airport had a 2,000 foot top altitude, a review of this comment reveals 
a top altitude up to, but not including 2,600 feet. David Wayne Hooks 
Airport does have up to but not including a 2,000 foot top altitude; 
however, this airport underlies Class B airspace that begins at 2,000 
feet. An IFR exit to the west of DWH is capped at 2,000 feet. In making 
its decision, the FAA reviewed the operations at the airport, informal 
meeting notes, radar operating practices, and surveillance equipment. 
With respect to the comment about victor airways, they are in a small 
section of the class D footprint. Approximately 10 percent underlie 
Class B Shelf at 3,000 feet. Controlled traffic on V-68 and V-222 will 
be at 3,000 feet or higher. VFR aircraft are knowledgeable about these 
airways and are to maneuver themselves to be clear of other aircraft, 
see and avoid. The airspace was tailored to provide minimum 
inconvenience while optimizing safety. The FAA has determined that 
2,500 feet is an appropriate altitude to enhance safety and allow 
flexibility to the VFR pilot.
    3. Comment: Support of the Class D proposal at 1,700 feet.
    One commenter supported Class D airspace with an altitude of 1,700 
feet.

[[Page 65272]]

    FAA response: 14 CFR 91.129 sets minimum altitudes when operating 
in Class D airspace, unless otherwise required, by the distance from 
cloud criteria; each pilot of a turbine-powered airplane and each pilot 
of a large airplane must climb to an altitude of 1,500 feet above the 
surface as rapidly as possible. The FAA has determined that 2,500 feet 
is an appropriate altitude to enhance safety and allow flexibility to 
the VFR pilot.
    4. Comment: Support for Class D at 2,500 feet but with Full Circle 
(4 miles) Airspace without Cutout for Sport Flyers Airport.
    FAA response: The informal meetings with the community resulted in 
reducing the size of the proposed Class D to its current cutout shape. 
This proposal reduces the allowed 4-nautical mile radius around TME to 
assist the operators transitioning in and out of Sport Flyers Airport 
without the need of establishing radio communications with TME. The 
proposed cutout also allows for accommodation of a private airstrip to 
the southwest of TME. This cutout complies with established rules in 
FAA Order 7400.2K Chapter 17-2-3, SATELLITE AIRPORTS, paragraph a. 
Using shelves and/or cutouts to the extent practicable, exclude 
satellite airports from the Class D airspace area.
    5. Comment: Concerns of east-west VFR corridor compression.
    Forty-eight comments were received as to this loss of airspace and 
to the creation of airspace above 2,000 feet as a safety issue, having 
a major impact on the VFR community. They commented that the east/west 
corridor along I-10 has long been a familiar route for VFR pilots 
transitioning through the airspace for the last thirty years; they 
enjoy the visual reference and not having to communicate with small 
airports at the accustomed altitude of 2,000 feet. Comments included:
    (a) Compressing transient VFR traffic along I-10 corridor to 500' 
vertically will increase risk of collision.
    (b) Will make flying cross country more stressful.
    (c) Proposed airspace is dangerous because it sits at the mouth or 
exit of the VFR corridor between the two huge Class B airspaces over 
Houston.
    (d) KTME does not need Class D because it does not have a lot of 
traffic and it is not for the common good of all.
    (e) Proposed airspace significantly reduces usable airspace for the 
majority to accommodate a few elite jets; Safety should be for the most 
pilots, not the richest. There are only a few IFR days where Class D 
might be beneficial; but there are many VFR flyers.
    (f) Class D should not be implemented until tower existence is 
published.
    (g) Will cause transition to South and cause flights and noise over 
residential areas of Katy, Cinco Ranch, and Brookshire. Should consider 
these alternatives: (1) No Class D; (2) Class D ceiling 1,500 AGL 
rather than 2,000 AGL; (3) Make southern border of Class D align with 
northern edge of I-10.
    (h) VFR traffic will deviate around the south side putting west and 
east-bound traffic on potential collision course for the following 
reasons:
    (1) By establishing Class D around KTME, this VFR traffic will 
choose to deviate around the south side of the proposed Class D. That 
will put west- and east-bound traffic on a potential collision course. 
Although in practice VFR traffic is often at 1,500' even this far out 
west, it could fly at a higher altitude. However, even the Houston VFR 
flyway chart encourages VFR traffic to stay below 2,500' in this area. 
Adhering to that recommended altitude would still require a deviation 
south around the proposed KTME Class-D, so the safety concern noted 
above still stands.
    (2) VFR aircraft flying in opposite directions would normally have 
a 1,000 ft. separation between themselves (whole altitudes + 500 ft.). 
With only 1,500 foot above TME (2,500 ft to 4,000 ft) . . . what are 
the procedures for safe separation??? IFR are at the whole altitudes! 
So . . . If TME Class D has a ceiling of 2,500 ft, 2,600 ft to 3,900 ft 
is all that is left! In such a case. Only one VFR altitude is available 
[Eastbound: 3,500 ft] [FAR Part 91.159] and that leaves Westbound VFR 
traffic with dangerous choices. VFR traffic flying over TME at 2,100 
with a 2,000 ft. corridor above TME is less likely than VFR traffic 
using 2,600 or 3,900 in a 1,500 ft. corridor. Westbound VFR won't have 
any option that will give them more than 400 ft. separation from 
Eastbound VFR or IFR traffic.
    (i) Would have to drop 1,500 feet in order to land at West Houston 
Airport when coming from the West. Would we be better off with this 
traffic flying over Houston at 10,000 feet or around the Class B 
airspace?
    (j) This would interfere with all the commercial flights coming 
into IAH and HOU.
    (k) Directly effects VFR traffic on Victor airways.
    (l) Rather than speak with the tower at KTME, aircraft will in all 
likelihood divert either north or south. This then increases over 
flights to X09 and the Gloster (1XO7) skydive location JIM MAIM.
    (m) Eliminates practice area used by local pilots.
    (n) IFR has no priority over VFR in uncontrolled airspace.
    (o) Same result can be achieved by Class E controlled airspace to 
the ground, not just at nighttime like in this proposal, but for 24/24 
instead of a daytime Class D. I would therefore propose to change the 
controlled airspace for KTME to Class E 24h instead of day Class D/
Night Class E.
    (p) IFR pilots could use Hobby.
    (q) IFR pilots have the same obligation as VFR pilots to ``See and 
Avoid'' when in VMC.
    (r) Aircraft diverting either north or south would put aircraft 
closer to the instrument approaches for KTME.
    FAA response: The term corridor is generally used for the portion 
of I-10 that is underneath the Class B airspace; when the Class B 
airspace terminates, so does the corridor. It is important to note that 
the portion of the east/west I-10 corridor that lies inside the Class D 
does not underlie Class B. The VFR operation can still occur along I-10 
either by circumnavigating the area approximately 14 flying miles or by 
establishing radio communications with the operating tower according to 
14 CFR 91.126 or (if Class E airspace) 14 CFR 91.127. Since this area 
is not charted and the opening of TME was not widely known, the FAA has 
provided relief during this period by waiving the requirement to 
establish radio communications with the control tower during the 
airspace rulemaking process. 14 CFR 91.129 set minimum altitudes when 
operating in Class D airspace, unless otherwise required by the 
distance from cloud criteria, each pilot of a turbine-powered airplane 
and each pilot of a large airplane must climb to an altitude of 1,500 
feet above the surface as rapidly as possible. The distance needed to 
climb to 1,500 feet does not make the option to cap the southern border 
at I-10 feasible. VFR aircraft departing to and from West Houston 
Airport could have a normal climb/descent profile by communicating with 
TME tower and receiving permission to transition through the airspace; 
this should not be approved if aircraft activity is in the same area. 
This would maintain or increase safety from today's environment.
    This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially 
significant environmental impacts, including no significant noise 
impacts. No extraordinary circumstances exists that warrant preparation 
of an environmental assessment.
    When operating in VFR weather conditions, it is the pilot's 
responsibility

[[Page 65273]]

to be vigilant so as to see and avoid other aircraft (14 CFR 
91.113(a)). The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) recommends that 
for aircraft 8,000 feet AGL and below, extra vigilance be maintained 
and that monitoring an appropriate control frequency is to the VFR 
pilot's advantage to ``get the picture of traffic in the area.'' VFR 
pilots are to see and avoid other aircraft and to be extremely vigilant 
in congested VFR areas and Victor airways. Once again, an operating 
tower that meets the requirements of FAA Order 7400.2K, Chapter 17, is 
authorized Class D airspace. This proposal will have Class D airspace 
during tower operating hours and Class E surface area airspace during 
non-operating hours. The proposed altitude of 2,500 does not interfere 
with commercial traffic landing or departing IAH or HOU. The formal 
establishment of Class D airspace will allow for charting of the 
airspace dimensions and altitude which will provide notice to pilots to 
communicate or circumnavigate this area. The pilot will not be affected 
if the aircraft flies above 2,500 feet. The FAA acknowledges the 
inconvenience to the VFR pilot of flying at or above 2,500 feet and 
establishing radio communications with control towers. 14 CFR 91.126, 
Class G airspace; 14 CFR 91.127, Class E airspace require communication 
with the operating control tower (TME) unless otherwise authorized by 
ATC. The FAA does not agree that altitude compression will be 
constrained in this area since the floor of the Class B airspace is 
southeast of the proposed Class D airspace.
    6. Comment: Three commenters stated that the proposed rulemaking 
(NPRM) should be to establish Class B Airspace in the Brookshire, TX 
area, instead of Class D and Class E Airspace. The commenters preferred 
to have the entire airspace controlled by the FAA. Some of the reasons 
cited in favor of Class B airspace were:
    (a) A few miles north of the airport, the Class B airspace begins 
at 3,000 feet but the majority of the Class B area over the airport is 
4,000 feet.
    (b) Raising the top to meet the Class B further removes any 
confusion to transient traffic.
    (c) TME, with its physical location near Houston's Corporate Energy 
Corridor and ample 6,610' x 100' runway, is attracting an ever growing 
number of larger and faster aircraft (turboprops and jets).
    (d) Class D airspace tends to have less recreational flyers and 
experimental traffic that tend to increase immediate airport traffic 
congestion and noise with constant circling for touch and goes, etc.
    FAA response: This airport and its location do not meet criteria 
for Class B airspace.
    7. Comment: Supports Class E airspace only.
    Five comments received supported the proposal of 2,500 feet if the 
airspace would be classified as Class E airspace.
    FAA response: The requirement for VFR aircraft to establish radio 
communications is still in effect for Class G and/or Class E airspace; 
14 CFR 91.126 and 14 CFR 91.127. Establishing the proposed Class D 
airspace will reduce the overall airspace dimensions. Approval to 
transit the area is still required; the benefit will be that all 
aircraft will have access to VFR charts and the airspace would be 
depicted.
    14 CFR 91.127, Operating on or in the vicinity of an airport in 
Class E airspace, states:
    (c) Communications with control towers. Unless otherwise authorized 
or required by ATC, no person may operate an aircraft to, from, through 
or on an airport having an operational control tower unless two-way 
radio communications are maintained between that aircraft and the 
control tower. Communications must be established prior to 4 nautical 
miles from the airport, up to and including 2,500 feet AGL. However, if 
the aircraft radio fails in flight, the pilot in command may operate 
that aircraft and land if weather conditions are at or above basic VFR 
weather minimums, visual contact with the tower is maintained, and a 
clearance to land is received. If the aircraft radio fails while in 
flight under IFR, the pilot must comply with 14 CFR 91.185.
    8. Comment: No support for any change to the present airspace 
allocation.
    Thirty-one comments received rejected the proposal entirely. An 
immediate return to the status quo was requested based on the long 
standing operations in this area. Additionally, many commenters cited 
the east/west I-10 corridor and the compression of the VFR navigable 
air space in the northeast affected area as a concern. The majority of 
comments provided for an alternate choice of a top altitude of 2,000 
feet.
    FAA response: The TME control tower opened October 1, 2014, and is 
operational; the status quo can no longer be maintained. The FAA is 
complying with all appropriate regulations.
    9. Comment: Airspace compression in the northeast quadrant under 
Class B.
    Twenty comments received concerned the compression of navigable 
airspace under Class B and Class D airspace around TME. Cited were 
safety concerns for VFR aircraft to squeeze into an already congested 
airspace. The concerns were departures of airports underneath the Class 
B, practice areas for student training, and the airspace compression 
along the east west I-10 corridor.
    FAA response: The FAA has reviewed these concerns and agrees this 
is a compression of airspace with the establishment of Class D 
airspace. The proposal notes that 10 percent of the Class D footprint 
sits below the Class B shelf at 3,000 feet. The east/west I-10 corridor 
underlies Class B airspace; however, the portion of I-10 that does 
underlie the proposed Class D does not underlie Class B airspace. 
During the informal meetings this factor was taken into consideration 
and resulted in the proposed airspace being lowered from 2,700 feet to 
2,500 feet to allow for more airspace. The compression to the northeast 
underlying Class B airspace is not considered the VFR corridor. The FAA 
believes this to have minimal impact on those aircraft that would have 
to fly around or over the proposed airspace.
    The tower at Houston Executive Airport is established and the Class 
D and E airspace areas are being provided according to federal 
regulations. The Class D proposal to reduce the allowed footprint of 
the airspace provides for safe and efficient use of airspace. Class D 
enhances safety by setting VFR weather minima specified in 14 CFR 
91.155 and through the communications and other requirements in 14 CFR 
91.129 (and 14 CFR 91.127 for E airspace). Once Class D airspace is 
charted, the information is accessible to all pilots. The FAA 
understands the concerns of the commenters. However, the FAA chose the 
upper limit of the airspace at 2,500 feet to establish higher weather 
minima for VFR aircraft, transitioning above the airspace thus 
restricting access to VFR flights in the airspace while IFR operations 
are in progress. VFR aircraft transitioning at 2,000 feet through the 
airspace will still be allowed to do so as long as radio communications 
are established with the tower prior to the aircraft entering the Class 
D airspace, and no additional conflicts with other airspace users 
arise.
    Class D and Class E airspace designations are published in 
paragraph 5000, 6002, and 6005, respectively, of FAA Order 7400.11A 
dated August 3, 2016, and effective September 15, 2016, which is 
incorporated by reference in 14 CFR part 71.1. The Class E airspace 
designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in 
the Order.

[[Page 65274]]

Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

    This document amends FAA Order 7400.11A, airspace Designations and 
Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2016, and effective September 15, 
2016. FAA Order 7400.11A is publicly available as listed in the 
ADDRESSES section of this document. FAA Order 7400.11A lists Class A, 
B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and 
reporting points.

The Rule

    This amendment to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 
part 71 establishes Class D airspace, and Class E surface area airspace 
extending upward from the surface to and including 2,500 feet MSL 
within a 4-mile radius of Houston Executive Airport, excluding that 
airspace west and northwest, to accommodate the establishment of an 
airport traffic control tower. This action reduces the allowed 4 
nautical mile radius around Houston Executive Airport to assist the 
operators transitioning in and out of Sport Flyers Airport without the 
need of establishing radio communications with Houston Executive 
Airport. The proposed cutout also allows for accommodation for a 
private airstrip to the southwest of Houston Executive Airport. This 
amendment to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 
also establishes Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet or 
more above the surface of the earth within a 6.6-mile radius of Houston 
Executive Airport, to accommodate standard instrument approach 
procedures. Controlled airspace is needed for the safety and management 
of IFR operations at the airport.
    Class D and E airspace areas are published in paragraph 5000, 6002, 
and 6005, respectively, of FAA Order 7400.11A, dated August 3, 2016, 
and effective September 15, 2016, which is incorporated by reference in 
14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document 
will be published subsequently in the Order.

Regulatory Notices and Analyses

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an 
established body of technical regulations for which frequent and 
routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. 
It, therefore: (1) Is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under 
Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a ``significant rule'' under DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); 
and (3) does not warrant preparation of a Regulatory Evaluation as the 
anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that 
only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified 
that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Environmental Review

    The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical 
exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act in accordance 
with FAA Order 1050.1F, ``Environmental Impacts: Policies and 
Procedures,'' paragraph 5-6.5a. This airspace action is not expected to 
cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no 
extraordinary circumstances exists that warrant preparation of an 
environmental assessment.

Lists of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

Adoption of the Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

PART 71--DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR 
TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS

0
 1. The authority citation for part 71 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g); 40103, 40113, 40120, E.O. 
10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.


Sec.  71.1  [Amended]

0
 2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 
7400.11A, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 
2016, effective September 15, 2016, is amended as follows:

Paragraph 5000 Class D Airspace.

ASW TX D Brookshire, TX [New]

Houston Executive Airport, TX
    (Lat. 29[deg]48'18'' N., long. 95[deg]53'52'' W.)

    That airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 
2,500 feet MSL bounded by a line beginning at lat. 29[deg]46'44'' 
N., long. 95[deg]58'06'' W., to lat. 29[deg]47'35'' N., long. 
95[deg]55'49'' W., to lat. 29[deg]51'55'' N., long. 95[deg]55'52'' 
W., thence clockwise along the 4-mile radius of Houston Executive 
Airport to the point of beginning. This Class D airspace area is 
effective during the specific dates and times established in advance 
by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter 
be continuously published in the Chart Supplement.
* * * * *

Paragraph 6002 Class E Airspace Designated as Surface Areas.

ASW TX E2 Brookshire, TX [New]

Houston Executive Airport, TX
    (Lat. 29[deg]48'18'' N., long. 95[deg]53'52'' W.)

    That airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 
2,500 feet MSL bounded by a line beginning at lat. 29[deg]46'44'' 
N., long. 95[deg]58'06'' W., to lat. 29[deg]47'35'' N., long. 
95[deg]55'49'' W., to lat. 29[deg]51'55'' N., long. 95[deg]55'52'' 
W., thence clockwise along the 4-mile radius of Houston Executive 
Airport, to the point of beginning. This Class E airspace area is 
effective during the specific dates and times established in advance 
by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter 
be continuously published in the Chart Supplement.
* * * * *

Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 
Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth.

ASW TX E5 Brookshire, TX [New]

Houston Executive Airport, TX
    (Lat. 29[deg]48'18'' N., long. 95[deg]53'52'' W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface 
within a 6.6-mile radius of Houston Executive Airport.


    Issued in Fort Worth, TX, on September 14, 2016.
Vonnie L. Royal,
Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
[FR Doc. 2016-22723 Filed 9-21-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-13-P