Updated Dec. 12, 2016
There are no slot requirements for any of the Rocky Mountain airports (including Aspen/ASE, Eagle/EGE and Rifle/RIL) for the 2016-2017 holiday season. In addition, parking reservations are not required but, it is recommended that operators contact their FBO of choice prior to operation and provide arrival and departure details.
Please note, although no 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, ground delay programs (GDP), airspace flow programs (AFP) or 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).
|Airport||Tower Hours of Operation||VFR||MVFR||IFR|
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
|EGE||Dec 16 – Mar 31; 0700L – 2300L
No aircraft restrictions
|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 will be Dec. 26 and 27, as well as 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:
- File a flight plan well in advance of the trip. 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 (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.
- File an accurate departure time. If an operator misses their EDCT, they will likely be assigned additional delay.
- 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.
Structured Required Routes into Ski Country Airports on days of Peak Demand
Required routes will be used into ski country airports on days of significant demand. These route structures aid Denver Center in creating the most efficient flows into the mountain airports. These required routes will be sent out daily in the ATC Command Center Advisories. Additional airports have been added to the ski country required routes this year to include the following:
- ASE – Aspen
- EGE – Eagle
- RIL – Rifle
- GJT – Grand Junction
- GUC – Gunnison
- HDN – Hayden
- MTJ – Montrose
- TEX – Telluride
Clearance Delivery via Phone Procedures planned for GUC, HDN, MTJ and RIL during peak traffic dates
Denver Center will be utilizing the Clearance Delivery Procedures via phone lines from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. local time (1700z-2200z) for departures out of the following airports during the upcoming holiday period on dates of expected peak demand. View FAA letters to airmen for each airport:
- Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional (GUC)
- Hayden Yampa Valley (HDN)
- Montrose Regional (MTJ)
- Rifle Garfield County Regional (RIL)
When these procedures are active, a NOTAM will be published, and pilots can expect the following:
- Pilot will dial the phone number for the airport they intend to depart at least 30 minutes prior to departure time for obtain a clearance
- Pilot will receive their clearance and will “Hold For Release”
- Pilot will be instructed to call on frequency when number one for departure and ready to depart.
The following are the planned phone numbers to be used for clearance delivery specific to each airport:
GUC – 303 651 4809
HDN – 303 651 4810
MTJ – 303 651 4808
RIL – 303 651 4811
The expected dates for these procedures are:
- Friday, Dec. 16-Saturday, Dec. 17
- Friday, Dec. 23
- Monday, Dec. 26-Tuesday, Dec. 27
- Friday, Dec. 30
- Sunday, Jan. 1-Tuesday, Jan. 3
NOTAMs will be issued for the above dates and times. These phone procedures may be used on additional days beyond Jan. 3, at dates to be determined. Pilots should check NOTAMs frequently for current information.