Taller Towers, Faster Approvals Coming Soon For Downtown Miami

It could soon become easier to build taller towers in downtown Miami thanks to new collaboration between Dade’s aviation department and the FAA.

Documents obtained by TNM reveal that the two agencies are now working together to update and unify flight rules and height restrictions in the area. Officials say that the effort will eliminate confusion about building heights, while streamlining the approval process.

As part of the updated rules, a portion of downtown Miami (including Brickell) will see an increased height limit of 1,049 feet above sea level. This area was previously limited to 1,010 feet. Swire Properties has already received approval to build One Brickell City Centre at 1,049 feet under the new rules.

Approval could also become faster and less confusing. The FAA now routinely issues ‘Notice of Presumed Hazard’ letters for many towers proposed in downtown, even though most are eventually approved. That is due to a disparity between MIA’s height zoning ordinance and the  FAA’s Obstruction Evaluation Group reviews, which officials hope to resolve.

MIA’s height zoning ordinance is already so strict that a controversial new policy proposed by the FAA to account for One Engine Inoperative situations is already covered. In fact, heights in downtown can be increased even if the policy is implemented, officials say.

Tenant airlines at MIA, including American Airlines, Atlas Air, British Airways, Delta, Lufthansa have already been briefed on the plan and can be accommodated. Some of the changes to accommodate towers at 1,049 feet instead of 1,010 won’t actually result in any operational changes, since policy has been to round up building heights by 100 feet when considering flight procedures.

 

 

 

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Anonymous

Great news! Downtown and Brickell will resemble the present day Manhattan Skyline in about 40 to 60 years. It is going to look amazing!

Anonymous

Not without a decent public transit system.

Anonymous

That hs nothing to do with what he said.

Marc305

I agree, we need hard rail to go to the beach and up to North Miami. Unfortunately our politicians are all against it. Maybe in the next 30 years.

Anonymous

Anyone familiar with Hansen’s recent report that predicts accelerated sea level rise (at least 10 feet within the next 50 years)? Well, he proposes some easy solutions to remedy that–using less fossil fuels (transit would obviously help with that) and “carbon negative” technologies (e.g. green spaces). Miami politicians don’t seem too fond of either of those things…good thing we don’t have to worry about sea level rise or anything.

Anonymous

Forget blaming politicians in Miami for dragging their feet, places like China are dumping pollutants in the air so much it wouldn’t matter what Miami does because it would be basically futile.

Anonymous

Wow, 1100ft is supposedly definitely a hazard versus a building that’s 1049ft high?

Fredric

The truth is that buildings up to 2000′ in height could be constructed in downtown Miami without in any way “endangering” aviation. In the 21st century, civil and commercial aviation does not resemble the mid-twentieth century model, which is the origin for all of this restricting of building heights due to perceived obstruction of air traffic. Propeller-driven passenger airliners of the past could neither gain altitude nor descend at nearly the angles achieved by today’s computer-piloted, jet-powered aircraft. And today’s prop planes also have vastly improved performance parameters compared with those of a half century ago. Anyone who has ever flown into or out of MIA knows that they are far above the rooftops of even the tallest structures in downtown Miami when they pass that location, and in fact, most of the time they fly well to either the north or to the south of downtown when ascending out of the airport or descending into it. As far as the One Engine Inoperable rule, that too is nowadays irrelevant because modern aircraft engines are designed to function so that one single engine can easily handle the workload for any type of aircraft that is not significantly physically damaged or… Read more »

Anonymous

You’re absolutely right there is way to 100% guaratee that no aircraft will ever collide with a building of any height, because 99.9 pct of the buildings that do get hit by a malfunctioning aircraft are no taller than two stories.

Anonymous

This is going to be unpopular, but I am happy that the FAA is lifting some of their restrictions. Yes it is true that a single modern aircraft engine can power an aircraft, but not at nearly the same performance as when all their engines are operating. Climb gradients, especially in heavy aircraft on hot and humid days, are severely impacted when an engine fails. On days when visibility is low and worst-case engine failures happen, there is a possibility that an aircraft cannot clear a thousand foot obstacle or if they do, it would be with very little clearance. Aircraft are not just required to clear an obstacle, they’re required to clear it by a certain amount of altitude in a worst-case performance scenario. So it is not true that they can “easily” handle the workload, because you’d be surprised how little performance an airplane can have with one engine inoperative (even on 3-engine and 4-engine aircraft).

Having said that, I do believe the FAA has been overly restrictive on downtown MIA and I’m happy to hear that they’re allowing taller towers!

Fredric

As far as I can tell, everything you state is substantially accurate. I especially agree that the FAA has been too restrictive, prior to now, regarding the allowable heights of buildings in downtown Miami. And much of that has been due to the fact that human nature interferes with objective logic and statistics when such restrictions are implemented, therefore sensible and workable changes to these restrictions which are necessary to coincide with evolving conditions are often too slow in coming. In a bureaucratic federal agency such as the FAA, it is much easier to mindlessly stick with the status quo rather than to think proactively and adjust to changes as they happen. If the needed changes are now taking place, that is good but IMO, the FAA will still remain bureaucratic and largely incompetent or at least ineffective.

Yet Another Anonymous

So this whole time they could have been much higher, it’s always been as if OEI has been employed and existed. It used to be 1,049 before it was 1,010. If they can climb that much with OEI, which is unlikely, they would probably turn back if they weren’t already far out, that means they could be a lot higher than they are now with all engines working properly. I know there is a comfort factor for passengers, I have also observed that planes landing over downtown are lower than the ones taking off. Some days it seems they all land from the west, other days from the east. Sometimes the planes look a little close from the ground, but when you’re in the plane, just look at photographs people illegally took out their window of downtown, they are so very far over the buildings that this is all safety measures taken really far. Wonder if a 1,050+ building were built back in the day it would change things. Though they’ve cut down many buildings that were not near any of these limits in the past as we all know even when they are next to or very near much… Read more »

Yet Another Anonymous

What I meant by unlikely was that having one engine out is unlikely, not that they couldn’t climb up to 1,100 feet with OEI

Anonymous

You realize more than one engine is redundant on these planes? It would be shocking if they couldn’t maintain a positive rate of climb even with a flameout enough to clear the 1049 level given the distance between the airport and downtown.

Also, comfort factor? These planes aren’t exactly screaming up to $10k feet out of MIA. Passengers hardly even notice “steep” climbs at airports like MDW and DCA.

Last, why you think taking photos on takeoff or landing to be illegal? Most airlines allow for the use of small portable electronics under 10k now.

It’s about fuel savings. And apparently some miscommunication too.

Jacob

I’m sure those dozens of towers that have been chopped over the years are just *thrilled* by this news. Too little, too late for them.

Nevertheless, this is good news, but I digress.

Anonymous

Kind of like small time marijuana offenders after Miami decriminalized it, but I digress.

Jacob

Bingo.

Anonymous

Supertalls were never a problem for Miami, it was the whining people in Miami who hated skysrapers that pulled the ears on most of Miami’s politicians a couple of decades ago and got their way.