AOPA to oppose Bangor (Washington) prohibited area

June 28, 2004

AOPA to oppose Bangor (Washington) prohibited area

What's an NSA?
Click for larger image

You've seen national security areas (NSAs) on your charts for years, but you probably didn't know what they were called. The bold, segmented magenta lines enclose an area with the legend, "Notice - for reasons of national security, pilots are requested to avoid flight below 7,700' msl in this area." (The altitude varies depending upon the area, of course.)

An NSA is "airspace of defined vertical and lateral dimensions established at locations where there is a requirement for increased security of ground facilities," according to the Aeronautical Information Manual . "Pilots are requested to voluntarily avoid flying through an NSA. When it is necessary to provide a greater level of security, flight through an NSA may be temporarily prohibited pursuant to the provisions of 14 CFR 99.7, Special Security Instructions."

When there is a security reason for restricting flight operations within an NSA, the FAA will issue a notam.

"An NSA is preferable to a restricted or prohibited area because it is flexible," said Heidi Williams, AOPA manager of air traffic. "Once a prohibited area is established, it rarely goes away, and pilots lose another chunk of navigable airspace."

Click for larger image
Image from AOPA's Real-Time Flight
Planner
shows the TFR that would become
P-51 if the FAA proposal is approved.

AOPA will oppose an effort to establish a prohibited area over the Hood Canal in Washington State. The FAA's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) issued June 28 would make permanent the current temporary flight restriction (TFR) around the U.S. Navy submarine base at Bangor, Washington. The proposed prohibited area, P-51, would extend up to 2,500 feet msl.

"AOPA has consistently opposed these TFRs in the Puget Sound area because of the adverse operational impact on general aviation, particularly seaplanes using the Hood Canal," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "There is a much less restrictive solution that would satisfy the Navy's legitimate security concerns."

AOPA will propose that the four Puget Sound-area TFRs be replaced with national security areas.

In December of last year, AOPA wrote the chief of Naval Operations, requesting elimination of the four TFRs. And working directly with high-ranking naval officials and Washington's congressional delegation, the association persuaded the Navy to reduce the size of two of the TFRs.

"We believe a national security area is an appropriate solution," said Boyer. "Pilots are requested to voluntarily avoid flying through an NSA. And when the threat level is elevated, notams can be issued to prohibit flight through a particular NSA."

June 28, 2004