September 11, 2004
AOPA has formally opposed an Air Force plan to expand special-use airspace in South Carolina and Georgia. The association said that the expansion of the Gamecock, Poinsett, and Bulldog Military Operations Areas (MOAs), proposed as part of the Shaw Air Force Base Airspace Training initiative, could affect the safety of general aviation aircraft and reduce civilian access to heavily traveled airspace. AOPA recommended changes to the proposal to reduce the potential conflicts between civilian and military aircraft.
The proposal would expand the Bulldog MOA south of Augusta, Georgia. In its formal comments, AOPA said that expansion "poses a significant safety issue for underlying and adjacent general aviation airports." Pilots using Burge County (BXG) and Emanuel County (SBO) airports would be "forced to operate within the Bulldog A MOA with every flight, whether they remain in the traffic pattern maintaining currency requirements or on a transient flight to another destination."
AOPA recommended raising the floor of the proposed MOA to 3,000 feet agl to allow civilian traffic to operate safely underneath military aircraft.
The association opposed the expansion of the Poinsett MOA south of Sumter, and the Gamecock MOA complex south of Florence, South Carolina, saying the changes would compress traffic transitioning the area along the V3-157 airway within 3,000 vertical feet, increasing chances of a midair collision. V437 would be unavailable to IFR traffic when the MOAs are "hot," and the MOAs would also severely limit flights in eastern South Carolina, an area heavily traveled by general aviation.
AOPA also asked for "real-time" information on military activity within the MOAs.
"We recognize that the Air Force needs airspace to train," said Heidi Williams, AOPA manager of air traffic policy. "We'll continue to work with the Air Force to help mitigate the safety and access issues related to the Shaw Air Force Base Airspace Training initiative."
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