Western US Expansion

PilotEdge has launched an expanded area of ATC operations called the Western US Expansion. It encompasses the Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Denver and Albuquerque ARTCCs. This is an optional paid expansion to the Los Angeles ARTCC primary coverage area. The total coverage area can be seen on the Operating Hours and Service Area page.

The Primary Airports

The Western US Expansion was initially designed to provide transport category jets with a wider range of viable city pairs when flying on PilotEdge. Historically, such flights have typically required the use of KSFO or KLAS as the origin or destination simply to make the trip of a reasonable length. The Western US Expansion provides a healthy list of suitable Part 121 airports especially when combined with the existing coverage area.

Here are the Primary airports for the Western US Expansion:

  • KASE: Aspen-Pitkin County Airport
  • KDEN: Denver International Airport
  • KPDX: Portland International Airport
  • KPHX: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • KSEA: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • KSFO: San Francisco International Airport
  • KSLC: Salt Lake City International Airport

The Bonus Airports

In order to provide additional variety and concentration of traffic, the Western US Expansion includes a list of 10 bonus airports which will be served on a 2-week rotating basis (one airport at a time, changing every two weeks). Not only does this provide additional city pairs and concentrated traffic, but the proximity to primary airports will also encourage turboprop and piston flights between the Bonus airport and the closest Primary airport.

The current Bonus field is listed in the Network Status section of the home page.

Here is the initial Bonus airport schedule for the Western US Expansion:

  • KABQ: Albuquerque International Sunport Airport (12/27-1/9)
  • KEGE: Eagle County Regional Airport (1/10 – 1/23)
  • KRNO: Reno/Tahoe International Airport (1/24 – 2/6)
  • KMRY: Monterey Regional Airport (2/7 – 2/20)
  • KSAC: Sacramento Executive Airport (2/21 – 3/6)
  • KSJC: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (3/7 – 3/20)
  • KGEG: Spokane International Airport (3/21 – 4/3)
  • KOAK: Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (4/4 – 4/17)
  • KYKM: Yakima Air Terminal (4/18 – 5/1)
  • KSMF: Sacramento International Airport (5/2 – 5/15)

The Hidden Gem for Bug Smashers: Full Enroute Coverage within 5 ARTCCs

The Western US Expansion provides coverage through the entire lateral limits of the Seattle, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Denver and Albuquerque ARTCCs. These facilities contain extraordinary terrain, weather and a massive list of interesting airports.

This additional service means you can fly VFR or IFR from any airport to any other airport and receive VFR or IFR service.

There are some limitations, though:

  • Towered airports other than the Primary or active Bonus fields are effectively non-towered. Pick up your IFR clearance on the ground with Approach or the overlying Center, then use the published CTAF for that field to self-announce your departure, then call us in the air. You can also depart VFR and activate your IFR in the air.
  • TRACONs (approach/departure frequencies) are available where they serve a Primary or Bonus field (listed above). That means Albuquerque, Aspen, Chinook (Yakima), Denver, Norcal, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Spokane. If your selected airport is within an un-supported TRACON, call the overlying Center instead. For example, departing from Boise (KBOI), you would call Salt Lake City Center on the nearest published Center frequency on the Low Enroute IFR chart to pick up your clearance.

Note: Due to the real world placement of radio transmitters, you may not be able to reach some of the ATC facilities while on the ground. In such cases, depart VFR (or IFR with a simulated clearance) and call us in the air.

This allows pilots to access more than 2500 additional airports throughout the Western Expansion area!

FAQ

When will this be available?

It’s available now. The Western US Expansion was launched on Dec 27, 2016 with a free two-week preview for all members. New trial members also have access.

How much does it cost?

See the pricing page.

How do I add the Western US Expansion to my PilotEdge subscription?

See the Account Center to change your subscription plan instantly! You will receive a pro-rated refund for the unused portion of your existing subscription when you swap to the new plan. This way, you’re not losing out on any of your existing subscription.

Why not make this part of the standard subscription and just increase the price across the board?

The primary coverage area has top-down coverage of every towered airport within the Los Angeles ARTCC. The new airspace operates differently, covering a selection of airports across 5 ARTCCs. These are fundamentally different offerings that may appeal to different types of users. As such, we didn’t want to force a price increase for existing users, particularly if they have no intention of using the new airspace.

Additionally, the new airspace is being staffed independently of the existing airspace, which represents an increase in the cost basis for the service. We wanted to be able to tie the incremental revenue associated with add-on subscriptions to offset the additional underlying costs.

If I don’t activate the Western US Expansion for my account, does my subscription cost increase?

No, the cost remains the same. However, you will not be permitted to operate your aircraft within the lateral bounds of the Western US Expansion area while flying on PilotEdge.

Why are the Bonus airports only staffed one at a time? Why not support them all at the same?

Great question (not that the others weren’t sterling queries in and of themselves). It’s a fairly large undertaking to work 5 ARTCCs at the same time. We are confident that the controllers can handle the large area so long as the number of fields is not excessive. However, we also see the value in having a ‘fresh’ airport to visit from time to time. This is how the concept of the Bonus field came about. The controllers need only be intimately familiar with the Primary fields and a single Bonus field at any given time. It also provides a form of traffic concentration as it’s anticipated that the Bonus field will be relatively popular during its 2 week tenure.

How can I tell which Bonus field is active?

Check the home page under the Network Status section.

Can I fly to/from the existing coverage area, to/from the Western US Expansion area?

Yes. You can conduct flights entirely within ZLA. You can conduct flights entirely within the Western US Expansion area. You can conduct flights that start in the Western US Expansion area and terminate in ZLA, and vice versa.

I love to fly 737s, A320s and other transport category jets. Should I subscribe to this add-on?

Yes. This expansion will allow you to stretch your legs and visit a massive list of city pairs with Part 121-compatible airports. It also lets you experience new SIDS and STARs within ZLA and SFO that you otherwise wouldn’t have been using prior to the expansion.

I’m a turboprop guy, is this expansion good for me?

There are plenty of turboprop flights between city pairs within the expansion area (KSEA-KPDX, KSLC-KDEN-KASE), as well as flights from the northeast corner of ZLA into the expansion area (KLAS/KVGT/KHNDKSLC/KPHX). When you add the Bonus fields, the situation looks even more bright, particularly since so many of the bonus fields are within the Oakland ARTCC, making for great hops from the existing primary coverage area.

Lastly, the decision to provide Enroute service within the expansion area opens up literally hundreds of additional fields that are perfect for turboprop and piston operations. See the Hidden Gem section above.

I’m a piston driver, is this expansion good for me?

The primary airports and bonus fields MAY be of interest to piston drivers who are looking for some variety outside of ZLA (the weather in the rockies and Pacific Northwest poses some challenges that do not generally exist in ZLA).

The addition of the Enroute service within the 5 ARTCC’s (see the Hidden Gem section above) may tip the scales for many piston drivers. The opportunity to fly from a scenic non-towered airport into a bonus field, or even into another non-towered airport on the other side of a mountain range provides for nearly limitless opportunities.

Will the radios work at airports other than the Primary and Bonus fields within the Western US Expansion area?

Yes, you will be able to utilize the CTAFs for any airport and hear other pilots who are on the same frequency and within range.

Can I still fly to/from SFO with a normal subscription?

San Francisco International is in the Oakland ARTCC which is part of the Western US Expansion area. As a result, SFO is no longer included in the primary coverage area. The result is that it’s not possible to operate to/from SFO without the add-on subscription. This was not an intended outcome when the airspace was developed, but as we move to a fully automated enforcement system with regards to the areas in which aircraft can be operated on the network based on the type of subscription, there really isn’t a viable path to allow aircraft to operate at SFO without a Western US subscription.

What happens if I connect to PilotEdge within the Western US Expansion without the required subscription?

The server will not allow you to connect to the network if you don’t have a Western US Expansion subscription. Similarly, if you attempt to fly from outside the area into the Western US Expansion area, your connection will be terminated and you will need to reconnect once you are clear of the area.