If you are based in Houston, or heading into or out of the Houston airspace under IFR, have you updated your charts? If not, you may hear a clearance stating: “N67889, cleared to Amarillo via the BORRN 1 Departure, CRGER Transition, Direct. Climb via the departure, expect 8000 in 10 minutes. Departure frequency 123.8, Squawk 3365.” You manage to get the clearance written down, but have completely messed up the spelling of both BORRN and CRGER, so you have no idea where the intersections are. After stumbling through a readback, you ask ground to spell the fixes for you.
Then, more bad news. You haven’t updated your GPS cards yet, so the departure isn’t in your 430. It’s an RNAV only departure, so you can’t fly it based on the NAV Radio. You were planning on updating your iPad when you got to Amarillo, so you don’t have the departure on there, either.
This has probably already happened to a few people today already.
Houston airspace got a major overhaul today. There are 20 new DPs and 29 new STARs guiding IFR traffic into and out of Houston airspace (including one named the DOOBI 1 Arrival, named after the Dooby Brothers band).
The FAA’s goal in all these changes, according to AOPA, is to “bring fuel efficiencies, time efficiencies, and reduce carbon emissions” (from Benet J. Wilson’s May 15th article on AOPA.com). The FAA issued a NOTAM today valid until June 6th describing what routes for pilots to file. The NOTAM also contains contingency plans for pilots flying without updated charts (like our example above).
Pilots should expect these wide scale procedure additions and changes to start showing up in other Class B airspace across the country. As always, make sure those charts are updated, GPS databases are current, and you do some studying of your route before you file your flight plan.