Winter Holidays 2015-2016 Colorado Rocky Mountain Airports – Air Traffic Management Plans

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Seasonal Traffic Management Details for Rocky Mountain Colorado Airports Released by FAA

Updated Dec. 3, 2015

There will, once again, 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 2015-2016 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 slots 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, collaborative trajectory options programs (CTOP), ground delay programs (GDP), ground stops or airspace flow programs (AFP). 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

Based on historical data, the likely days with the highest demand into Aspen, Eagle and Rifle for this upcoming holiday season will be Dec. 26 and 27, as well as the weekend after New Year’s Day – Jan. 2 and 3). Implementation of programs with expected departure clearance times are highly likely on these specific days.

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 arrive late morning and early afternoon. 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.

Best Practices when GDP, AFP or CTOP are in use:

  1. First and foremost, file a 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 groups) and likely additional delay as it will look for the first available time in the program after the initial average delay is assigned.
  2. File an accurate departure time. If an operator misses their EDCT, they will likely be assigned additional delay.
  3. Cancel a flight plan if an alternate destination is decided upon. Anyone not cancelling a flight plan will still be considered “known” demand. That will result in a “hole” being made that could have been used by another general aviation operator for that given airport.