Winter Holidays Colorado – Special Traffic Management Program

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Winter Holidays 2013-2014 Colorado Rocky Mountain Airports

Updated November 26, 2013

Special Traffic Management Plans

There will be NO FAA E-STMP air traffic slot requirements for any of the Rocky Mountain Airports (including Aspen/ASE, Eagle/EGE and Rifle/RIL) for the 2013-2014 Holiday Season. In addition, parking reservations will also not be required but it is highly recommended that operators contact their FBO of choice prior to operation and provide arrival and departure details.

Please note, although no FAA E-STMP air traffic slot reservations will be required during the holiday season, this will not create more capacity at any of these airports. The capacity at the airports is driven by weather conditions, aircraft parking availability, and arrival and departure demand throughout the day. There will be some days when demand will exceed capacity and the FAA will need to manage the demand utilizing a variety of traffic management initiatives (TMIs). These TMIs may include miles in trail, required routes, ground delay programs and ground stops. Operators should plan for the possibility of diversions as well.

Additionally, operations are limited during specific portions of the day which shortens the time available to arriving aircraft (see chart below). As an example, the table below demonstrates potential available capacity per hour to each of the airports (subject to change based on many variables).

Airport Tower Hours of Operation VFR MVFR IFR
ASE 0700L-2000L
Noise restrictions:
No Stage 1 aircraft allowed;
No Stage 2 aircraft from 30 min after sunset until 0700L;
Stage 3 aircraft: no departures 2230L – 0700L
No arrivals 2300L-0700L
14-18 12-14 10-12
EGE Dec 16 - Mar 31; 0700L – 2300L
No aircraft restrictions
14-16 12 12
RIL No ATCT, No A/C restrictions 10 8 8

Historically, the most impacted days have been Dec. 26 & 27; Jan. 1, 2, 3; the Sunday after New Year's Day; and the Friday & Monday of President's Day weekend. Operators should be prepared for the possibility of delays on both arrival and departure from these airports during the peak holiday season.

Operators should expect similar ramp and air traffic capacity as has existed in past years at all three airports. Historically, large numbers of operators have tried to all arrive early in the morning. Consideration should be given to schedule arrivals throughout the day and file flight plans as early as possible so the available capacity is utilized as much as possible and in an organized fashion.

Aspen Ski Season 2013-2014 Notice to Airmen (284 KB, PDF)

Eagle Ski Season 2013-2014 Notice to Airmen (283 KB, PDF)

Rifle Ski Season 2013-2014 Notice to Airmen (282 KB, PDF)

For more information, please contact: Todd Jacobson at (612) 708-7868.

Best Practices when Ground Delay Programs are in use:

  • First and foremost, file your flight plan well in advance (i.e. the evening before). Flights that are “known demand” or already on file when a program is implemented will likely see less delay. Any flight filed after the program has already been implemented will be “pop up” demand and will automatically receive the average delay for that time period (measured in 15 minute gropus) and likely additional delay as it will look for the first available time in the program after the initial average delay is assigned.
  • File an accurate departure time. If you miss your EDCT (expected departure clearance time) you will likely be assigned additional delay.
  • Cancel your flight plan if you decide on an alternate destination. If you do not cancel your flight plan, you will still be considered “known” demand. That will result in a “hole” being made for you that could have been used by another general aviation operator for that given airport.

Rocky Mountain Area Airport Arrival Rate Information

The FAA and State of Colorado recently signed an agreement that resulted in the installation of a Wide Area Multi-lateration in near the vicinity of Rifle (RIL) and Hayden (HDN) airports. This Multi-lateration system allows the FAA, using transponder signals from aircraft, to display the aircraft on Denver Center displays in a manner that allows controllers to use normal separation standards, as they would for traditional radar.

As a result of this, Denver Center increased the arrival rate at RIL and HDN. The VFR arrival rate per hour is 6 for both airports. In late 2008, the arrival rate at EGE was increased due to a signed LOA between Denver Center and EGE tower which decreased separation therefore increasing the arrival rate. The IFR arrival rate at EGE is 10 per hour with a VFR arrival rate of 14. The IFR arrival rate at ASE is 12-14 per hour with a VFR arrival rate of 18-20.

Tip to avoid delays: Fly the Ski Country Playbook routes

Playbook routes will continue to be utilized as a means to create structure for the traffic destined to the Rocky Mountain Area airports.  Users will be expected to file the playbook routes if demand or anticipated demand results in the issuance of the Ski Country routes advisory. The following is a link to the playbook website: http://www.fly.faa.gov/PLAYBOOK/pbindex.html. To learn if these Ski Country routes are in effect, check the FAA’s Advisory Database accessible at: http://www.fly.faa.gov/adv/advAdvisoryForm.jsp.

Latest News:

NBAA, FAA Work to Improve Ski Season Air Traffic Management
Oct/Sept Insider
Recently, the FAA committed to eliminate the air traffic slot reservation program that has been used annually to manage winter holiday traffic (November through January) at three busy Colorado mountain airports: Aspen-Pitkin County/Sardy Field (ASE), Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) and Rifle/Garfield County Regional Airport (RIL). In lieu of the air-traffic slot-reservation program, the FAA will manage the traffic volume with other air traffic management initiative tools, including miles-in- trail and ground delay programs. The decision is fully supported by NBAA. Read more in the Oct/Sept edition of Business Aviation Insider.

NBAA: FAA Plans Changes to Colorado Mountain Winter Holiday Procedures
June 11, 2013
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will change some traditional procedures for flights into three Colorado airports for the 2013-2014 holiday season. Specifically, the FAA will discontinue use of a legacy air-traffic slot-reservation program for Aspen Colorado Airport (ASE), Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE) and Garfield County “Rifle” (RIL) airports during the 2013-2014 holiday season's November-through-January timeframe. In lieu of the air-traffic slot-reservation program, the FAA will manage the traffic volume with other traffic management initiative tools, including miles-in-trail and ground delay programs. Learn More