March 9, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
The Navy is asking for public input on a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that would consider West Coast base options for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter.
Publication of the notice of intent to draft an EIS gives the public an opportunity to learn about the Navy’s plans, and to submit comments that will help drive the environmental review of where to base the new F-35C. The aircraft’s superior capabilities to its predecessor aircraft will likely require changes in airspace to accommodate training missions—and that is where the Navy may need to hear from current airspace users to ensure any impacts of airspace changes are considered as part of the Navy’s plans.
AOPA reported Feb. 2 that bases are being considered at Naval Air Station Lemoore or Naval Air Facility El Centro. Two public information meetings were held on the basing question in February.
AOPA submitted comments on the notice of intent Match 8, urging the Navy to form an ad hoc group of airspace users to provide immediate feedback and possible mitigation measures early in the basing process. Early engagement and collaboration among airspace users would result in solutions that accomplish military training goals with minimal impact on the National Airspace System, AOPA said.
Members are encouraged to submit comments on the notice of intent at the project’s website by March 14.
AOPA would also like to hear your concerns on the proposal, which can be shared by e-mailing a copy of your comments.
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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