Shaw SUA proposals better, but additional changes needed

July 22, 2010

The Air Force has proposed three options for modifying the special use airspace over Shaw Air Force Base. Two of them would severely compress general aviation and restrict access to frequently used Victor airways, but one could address both the military and civilian pilots’ needs with certain changes, AOPA said in comments July 22.

The Air Force has released its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the airspace training initiative over areas of South Carolina and Georgia. The initiative proposes three alternatives for reconfiguring the Gamecock, Poinsett, and Bulldog military operations areas (MOAs) to accommodate changes to military training missions in the area. Of the three alternatives, AOPA favors Alternative B due to the lower impact to general aviation operations.

The proposals in the final EIS represent some improvement for GA from the draft proposed in 2005.  However some of them would still have significant negative impacts to general aviation operations in the area, wrote AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Services Tom Kramer in comments on the final EIS; but Alternative B would preserve more general aviation access to the area. AOPA requested modifications that would further accommodate GA by reducing some of the vertical dimensions in the proposal.

“The addition of the Bulldog C & E MOAs under the Mitigated Proposed Action will have a major impact on two public-use airports, two private-use airports, seven instrument approach procedures, one Victor airway, and one T-route. Additionally, the establishment of these two MOAs will restrict access for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) traffic any time either MOA is active,” said Kramer. “Alternative B mitigates some of the airspace concerns associated with the Mitigated Proposed Action, but additional modifications are needed to fully address the impacts on the general aviation user community.” 

An agreement between air traffic control and Shaw prohibits military operations below 12,000 feet in the Gamecock D MOA, eliminating the need for the proposed lowering of the MOA floor to 8,000 feet. A floor of 12,000 feet would provide more airspace for GA to operate outside of the MOA, Kramer said.