Alaska Delta MOA would hinder GA ops, create safety hazard

September 3, 2009

As proposed, the Delta Military Operations Area (MOA) would shut off the only airway running through the Pacific Airspace Complex—an area that is 320 nautical miles by 100 nautical miles. It also would expose VFR traffic to high-speed military flights and sever IFR airways between Fairbanks, Delta Junction, and Northway, and international flights following the Alaska Highway.

Because of the ramifications of losing airspace access in a state that depends on general aviation, AOPA is opposing the proposed Delta MOA and has suggested alternatives to try to keep the airspace open to IFR traffic and create a safety environment for VFR traffic.

AOPA has proposed dividing the Delta MOA into high and low MOAs that would maintain access to V-444, a major IFR airway. The low MOA would need to be available for civil aircraft use, and the military would need to establish real-time coordination of the airspace to permit military training while safely accommodating GA traffic. The military’s proposal to encourage IFR aircraft to cancel their IFR flight plan and continue VFR through low-level corridors is not an option, AOPA said, explaining the safety of flight issues surrounding forcing faster aircraft that fly IFR into low-altitude corridors with slower VFR traffic.

“Giving up the safety of altitude, radar, and radio coverage to obtain access is a loss of safety and should be avoided,” wrote AOPA Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman in formal comments to the FAA. Hackman, who has worked closely with the FAA, the Air Force, and AOPA Alaska Regional Representative Tom George, offered AOPA’s continued support in order to develop a plan that does not compromise safety or shut out GA traffic.