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November 11, 2009
May 10, 2004 - AOPA on Monday told the FAA that, after careful review, the association believes that a proposed change in the special-use airspace over Camp Pendleton, Calif., would have a less severe impact on general aviation (GA) than what currently exists.
The U.S. Marine Corps spent two years meeting with local GA pilots to determine how best to meet the Marines' training requirements while having the least possible impact on GA. "We believe that the Marines have done a good job in outreach to the general aviation pilot on this issue," said Heidi Williams, manager of Air Traffic for AOPA. "But if the actual use of this airspace goes beyond what was written in the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), AOPA will no longer support the proposal."
The Marines want to change the current San Onofre High and Low Military Operations Areas (MOAs) and Controlled Firing Area (CFA) into Restricted Area R-2503D. In doing so, the westernmost boundary would move from 3 nm offshore to 1 nm offshore, well within the limits of what most pilots feel is comfortable for overwater flights. The Marines and the FAA also plan to chart numerous VFR waypoints to help pilots navigate around the airspace when it's in use, as well as the SUA radio frequencies so pilots can communicate directly with Marine Corps air traffic controllers.
The Marines still only plan to use the airspace no more than 20 days each year, from 0600-2400 local time. They have also signed an agreement with the Southern California Terminal Radar Control facility (SOCAL Tracon) to allow instrument approaches into Oceanside Municipal Airport (OCB) and McClellan-Palomar Airport (CRQ) and holding over the Oceanside VORTAC (OCN) even while the restricted airspace is active.
"AOPA recognizes the proposed change in airspace designation and relocation of the western SUA boundary will minimally impact the majority of general aviation users transiting this complex airspace area, "Williams concluded in AOPA's formal comments. "We encourage the Marines to continue the positive working relationship with local airspace users and the real-time coordination of the airspace above Camp Pendleton so that all users continue to be accommodated."
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AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg has challenged AOPA President Mark Baker to a dogfight. The battle? To see who can bring in the most "Hat in the Ring Society" donors before the end of the year to support aviation safety, promote community airports, and encourage more people to fly.
Pilots have formed a user group and launched a petition drive to save Runway 5/23 at Joplin Regional Airport in Joplin, Mo.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.