October 15, 2008
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
The U.S. Air Force is asking for a Special Flight Rules Area near Phoenix, but AOPA is objecting to the proposal on the grounds that it would unnecessarily complicate the already busy airspace in the region.
The Air Force says the airspace is needed because of numerous near-miss incidents involving civilian and military aircraft. But AOPA points out that the Air Force data to support its claims is old, with no information about near-midairs after 2000. In addition, the Air Force is placing the entire burden for solving the problem on general aviation, refusing to change any of its own procedures.
“We are in the process of thoroughly analyzing the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for this airspace, but we are very concerned about any proposal that would make navigating the Phoenix area more difficult,” said Peter Lehmann, AOPA manager of air traffic services.
Under the NPRM, pilots would have to establish radio contact with Luke AFB to enter the airspace, much as they do to enter Class C airspace. But pilots who are unable to make radio contact or choose not to would have to make a nearly 100-nm detour around the airspace, which would abut most of the western side of the Phoenix Class B airspace.
AOPA has been following this issue for nearly three years and plans to file comments detailing its concerns about the plan. Affected pilots are encouraged to file their own comments by mailing them to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation; 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room W12-140; West Building Ground Floor; Washington, DC 20590-0001. Comments must be received no later than Dec. 15.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
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