January 26, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
AOPA is recommending four modifications to an FAA proposal for Pinecastle restricted areas north of Florida’s Orlando International Airport. These modifications could help mitigate the adverse effects of the plan on hundreds of general aviation pilots, AOPA said in formal comments submitted Jan. 25.
Pilots are urged to submit comments by Feb. 7.
AOPA reported on Dec. 28 that the FAA had filed a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking changes to boundaries of existing restricted areas and the addition of new restricted airspace in Pinecastle and Lake George, Fla. If approved as drafted, the proposal would eliminate GA transit corridors through the complex, essentially creating a 42-nautical-mile wall of restricted airspace separating east and west Florida.
AOPA urged the FAA to publish more realistic times of use of the restricted areas, noting that the Navy seeks to use the airspace for only 58 percent of the 7,300 hours being requested.
AOPA also urged the FAA to raise the floor of R-2907B to permit west-east access for GA.
The association pointed out that the special-use airspace complex abuts the northern boundary of the Orlando Mode C veil and recommended that the FAA relocate the southernmost limit of R-2910 five miles north to permit transition flights by non-electrical-system-equipped aircraft. Those aircraft would otherwise have to divert or climb to 6,500 feet or higher. Moving the boundary could easily mitigate that problem.
By making those minor adjustments, “the potential for negative impact on general aviation could be largely mitigated,” said AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Services Tom Kramer in AOPA’s Jan. 25 response to the NPRM.
AOPA also suggested that the communications frequency of the airspace’s controlling agency be published on the chart adjacent to the airspace itself, making it easier for pilots in flight to check on whether the restricted areas are active.
Members should submit comments in triplicate by Feb. 7, citing FAA Docket No. FAA-2010-1146 and Airspace Docket No. 10-ASO-25, to the Docket Management System, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.
Pilots may also submit comments at online. AOPA is interested in hearing your thoughts on the proposal as well. You can e-mail a copy of your comments directly to the air traffic services staff at AOPA.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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