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Tue, Mar 24, 2009

FAA Implements Second Phase Of Houston Airspace Changes

Includes New Approach Routes, Inclement Weather Procedure

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced it has implemented new airspace procedures in Houston designed to move aircraft in and out of the busy area more smoothly, helping alleviate air traffic congestion.

The Houston Area Air Traffic System program (HAATS) is a three-phase plan to address projected local traffic increases. The second part was implemented March 12.

Flights headed to Houston from the northeast can now use another arrival route, which allows controllers to guide flights into Houston Intercontinental (IAH) in dual streams -- one used for low performance prop and turboprops,  and the other for large and heavy aircraft.

When the airspace gets busy, planes can be moved over to the second route, which should cut delays in the high-altitude en route airspace.

For flights headed east out of the Houston area, FAA developed a new departure route and modified an existing one. Now there are three eastbound departure routes, where there was one to the east and one to the southeast.

The changes also included a new severe weather avoidance procedure route at the southeast corner post. The route will allow the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center to keep aircraft moving when thunderstorms block another arrival route into the Houston area.

The agency plans to implement the third and final element of HAATS next summer. It will make changes to the airspace on the west side of Houston. The first phase began in 2002 with structural changes necessary to make the airspace changes possible.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.zhuartcc.com/

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