FAA Reducing Separation Off East Coast


Properly equipped (RNP 10 and RNP 4) aircraft will be able to take advantage of a new routing structure in the West Atlantic Route System (WATRS) off the east coast of the U.S. starting June 5. In a podcast interview with AVwebBiz, FAA Oceanic Procedures Specialist Scott Luka says the FAA is cutting lateral separation from as much as 90 miles to 50 miles over an expanse of ocean from 200 miles south of Long Island to Puerto Rico and between the continent and Bermuda. That will increase to nine the number of north/south routes available to business aircraft and airliners from the current five. It means will be offer better altitudes to a lot more flights, Luka told AVweb.

The area is not covered by radar and separation depends on position reports from individual aircraft. The 90-mile separation was dictated by the capability of navigation equipment on board most aircraft at the time the airspace was designed. Since then there have been major developments in onboard navigation gear and about 92 percent of aircraft using the airspace have the minimum ability required to accurately pinpoint their position to within 10 miles 95 percent of the time (RNP 10). Aircraft must be inspected and registered with the program to qualify for the closer separation.