MRAK Almanac: Changes ahead at Merrill Field

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FLYING SEASON IS HERE; NEW RULES FOR MERRILL

The April 5 Alaska Aviators Forum at the Aviator Hotel in downtown Anchorage will focus on air traffic changes at Merrill Field. Caleb Newville and Fred Snyder from Merrill Field Air Traffic Control will outline the new procedures to be implemented soon.

Merrill Field is a general aviation airport east of downtown Anchorage that had over 159,000 operations in 2018. In July it set a record with over 21,000 operations, making it the busiest month in the last 10 years.

Wedged between Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson and Lake Hood, which is the world’s largest seaplane base, with the Federal Aviation Regulation 93 Special Air Traffic rules in place, it’s a complex flying environment, with mountains on one side and Cook Inlet on the other, and numerous rules for altitude and speed. The entire Anchorage bowl sees an enormous volume of air traffic each year.

Merrill has numerous charted VFR arrival and departure procedures to keep traffic organized. The airport recently performed a full review of all of the procedures and made several modifications, which will be published in the April 25 edition of the Chart Supplement.

The pilot outreach team walk through each procedure and the changes, and explain why procedures are designed the way they are, and review numerous ‘best practices’ from the Aeronautical Information Manual to help ensure pilots and air traffic control personnel are working smoothly together.

The forum meets at 7 pm Friday, April 5, at the Aviator Hotel at 4th and C Streets.

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