Pilots urged to comment on proposed Alaska SUA changes

January 27, 2011

AOPA encourages members to review and comment on the impact of proposed changes to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC), which is described as “all land, air, and sea training areas used by the Army, Navy, and Air Force in Alaska to support joint exercises and mission rehearsals.”

AOPA submitted formal comments on the proposed modifications after a series of informational meetings held as part of the process of drafting an environmental impact statement on the JPARC proposal.

As AOPA reported Dec. 8, multiple proposed airspace changes include new and modified military operations areas (MOAs), restricted areas, corridors for unmanned aircraft systems, and night operations.

AOPA is calling for the formation of an ad-hoc user group that would work with the Defense Department and the FAA to identify and mitigate the impact of sweeping changes proposed for a vast special-use airspace complex in Alaska.

“The JPARC initiative represents a tremendous opportunity for stakeholder education and engagement,” wrote Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of air traffic services, in formal comments submitted Jan. 25. “The formation of an informal ad-hoc user group should be initiated to discuss the proposal and jointly develop aeronautical impact mitigation strategies. User engagement is a key to the success of this type of initiative.”

Kramer’s letter also urged that efforts be made to provide real-time information to general aviation pilots about military use of MOAs for safety in JPARC areas where communities are served almost exclusively by air transportation.

He also pointed out that using restricted corridors for unmanned aircraft constituted “an attempt to circumnavigate” the vehicles’ inability to see and avoid other traffic. “AOPA cannot support an expansion of the accepted uses of restricted airspace when other, less drastic options such as ground observation and chase planes remain available,” he wrote.

AOPA members are encouraged to visit the JPARC project website where a link is available for the public to submit comments. Comments can also be mailed to ALCOM Public Affairs, 9480 Pease Ave., Suite 120, JBER AK 99506. Please also forward a copy of your comments to AOPA.

Update: After an initial two-week extension, the period for public comment on the impact of the proposal has now been extended to March 4 as a result of participation in the process by AOPA and local pilot groups.