August 12, 2009
By Sarah Brown
The Air National Guard has released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) evaluating the proposed expansion of the Condor 1 and 2 Military Operations Areas (MOAs) near Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine.
AOPA has opposed this expansion for safety reasons and had requested an EIS to study the proposal more thoroughly. The public comment period for the draft lasts until Sept. 21.
The proposal would modify the existing Condor 1 and 2 MOAs by combining the footprint of each into one large Condor High MOA from 7,000 feet msl to 18,000 feet msl, with a low-altitude Condor Low underlying the other MOA from 500 feet agl to 6,999 feet msl.
“This proposal would lower the floor of military airspace, making it more difficult for GA aircraft in the area to transition to other airspace,” said AOPA Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman. “A lack of radar and radio coverage at lower altitudes means pilots would not be able to find out in flight if the MOA is active or not and where the traffic is, so GA aircraft could find themselves in the same airspace as high-speed, low-altitude military aircraft.”
Air traffic controllers from Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center have stated that radar coverage and communications with aircraft—both military and civilian—are intermittent to nonexistent below 7,000 feet in the footprint of the Condor MOA due to radar limitations.
Expanding the military training airspace, used by the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, would impact five airports directly under the MOAs as well as 25 airports in the vicinity. AOPA is also concerned about the proposal’s possible effects on cross-border operations, VFR traffic along Victor 104, and east-west operations between Upstate New York and Bangor, Maine.
Members can send comments and safety concerns to Major Stephen R. Lippert NGB/A 7AM, Program Manager, 3500 Fetchet Avenue, Andrews AFB, MD 20762–5157.
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