As most of you are probably aware, the Socal area was affected by massive airspace changes last year as a result of the Metroplex updates that took place (and are still taking place). As a result, the old airspace splits that we had in the SCT area are not as effective as they once were. Another criticism of the old splits is that we didn't split up within the different areas of SCT themselves, apart from the LA arrivals area and the SAN area (and even the SAN split was never really defined). As a result, events in the outlying areas of SCT were never all too common.
Back during about this time last year, we released a new version of the L30 SOP, with new splits for all four configurations, and a few new frequencies to help divide the airspace up further during events. Since then, we've had a few events in L30 that have gone smoothly thanks largely in part to the new splits. The L30 SOP rewrite was intended as a bit of a "test" to see if we could increase the complexity of our current sectorization and see positive results from it, which we have. And so, with that in mind, we set out to write a new set of SOPs for SCT to transfer what we learned from L30 over.
So what's changed?
Well, pretty much everything. As I mentioned above, the delegated airspace for each area of SCT (Burbank, Los Angeles, Coast, etc) has changed significantly. A criticism of the old splits is that with many controllers preferring to use the real world SCT video maps to control with, airspace boundaries often did not match up with the RVMs. The new splits are based on real-world splits within areas, obviously greatly simplified for use for our controllers. While the RW Coast area may have six sectors, we have two instead.
For SCT combined students, fear not, however, as we have preserved most of the "outer" SCT boundaries. A majority of the airspace still goes from the surface to 13000'. The main changes are that Feeder goes up to FL190 in the area where it formerly owned up to 17000'. The SAN area also owns from surface to 15000' now, instead of 13000' as before. Other than that, there's one shelf where the airspace differs from the general SFC-13000' rule, but they're fairly minor.
Continuing on the above, a few new sectors have been added for use. Generally, most of the outlying areas of SCT (Not SAN or LAX) split 2-3 ways now should we have an event there, or should the airspace there get busy to the point where a split is required.
The old handoff procedures in the old SOPs have been replaced by handoff tables instead. Most of them will look familiar to you if you're an SCT controller, as they haven't really changed much from what's in our current SOPs. There are a fair amount of new ones dealing with splits within SCT areas, but those are obviously a byproduct of actually splitting those areas up. Many of the real world handoff tables were left out, because the length of the new SOPs would, to put it bluntly, be ridiculous if we included it. Most of them dealt with scenarios we rarely deal with on the network. If a scenario isn't covered by a handoff table, then you'd just do what we've always been doing, which is coordinating with the next sector(s) that the aircraft will be entering.
Additionally, to streamline the interaction between ZLA and SCT, we have an LOA between the two facilities now that details how to handle aircraft transitioning from one facility to the other. It's extremely simple, and I can sum it up in a few sentences:
SCT has control for all arrival traffic descending through 16000'. All aircraft climbing out of SCT will either be climbing via SID or to the ceiling of the airspace, if a top altitude is not published. The legacy departures over SLI are an exception (LAXX, SEBBY, etc), but we already know they get climbed to 17000' so nothing really changed there. There are a couple of other details, so take a look over it and see what's up. That's the general jist of it, though.
Ahead are a few points that I want to clarify, because the new SOPs are a lot to take in.
Because they're a lot to take in, the new SOPs will not be effective until August 1st. We made this decision for that exact reason. We want to give our controllers time to acquaint to the new SOPs instead of getting tossed into the deep end right off the bat. All of the SOPs are available for viewing on the documents page of the website.
For the same reason, much of the SOPs are not required knowledge. As you browse through them, you may notice that a lot of the length of them comes because we also took the time to properly define operations during east operations at many airports, along with over-ocean operations at LAX. As we all know, LAX goes into east operations maybe a few times every year, because quite frankly it sucks and slows the entire airspace down. Much of the airspace strata and all of the handoff tables are not going to be required knowledge. However, controllers should be familiar with both and adhere to them during times when SCT is split up. The sections that controllers should know are the "General" and "Radar Team Procedures" sections for each area. These define some things many of us are already familiar with i.e. the capture box altitudes at LAX, Downey having control for turns and descents to a certain degree at SLI, and so on.
Where are the sections on tower ops in each area? Fear not, I've done you one better! We now have a minor airport reference sheet available in the documents section that will also be taking effect along with the new SCT SOPs. They include more than just the primary airports in each area, all civilian towered airports are now included as well. Much like the new SOPs, though, you won't be required to know all of it. They serve as a reference point if you want to work one of those towers.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me. I'm in Teamspeak a good amount. Email me. Whatever. If you want something about this clarified, reach out and I'll be happy to point you in the right direction.
We're finalizing changes in the sector file, and they should be good to go when everything becomes effective, or a few days prior.