September 8, 2010
By Dan Namowitz
General aviation pilots are encouraged to comment on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) released by the Air Force on its proposal to expand the Powder River Military Training Complex, affecting airspace over Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. A series of 18 public hearings on the DEIS will take place from Sept. 14 through Oct. 26. AOPA staff will attend those hearings to express concerns and recommend modifications, and encourages members to also attend and share their input.
AOPA has closely followed the proposal and identified safety and economic concerns for GA.
The Air Force seeks to conduct B-1 and B-52 bomber training missions that would include deploying flares and chaff, posing hazards to non-participating VFR aircraft. The proposal’s extent also raises economic concerns for GA operations and businesses at more than 20 airports. Detouring around the airspace to avoid hazards could add 100-plus miles to a flight.
“The potential impact demonstrates the need for real-time updates on the status of special-use airspace, which AOPA is advocating through participation in the National Special Activity Airspace Program. Timely, accurate status updates would greatly reduce the adverse impact of the airspace being charted as significantly more active than it is in fact,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization.
Pilots can mail written comments to Linda DeVine, Program Manager ACC/A7PS, 129 Andrews St., Suite 337, Langley AFB, VA 23665. The DEIS and additional information are available online.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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