April 4, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
The document detailing proposed changes to a vast complex of special-use airspace in Alaska has been released for public inspection, with a series of hearings set for May, and comments solicited by June 7. The draft environmental impact statement, released March 30, details changes that could be made to numerous swaths of airspace within Alaska’s Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex—an airspace range that accommodates “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 strongly encourages member participation in reviewing and commenting on the individual airspace proposals included in the DEIS, in light of its potential to have a major impact on general aviation operations in a state heavily dependent on air transportation. It is estimated that 47,000 jobs are directly and indirectly tied to aviation in Alaska, where aircraft provide a critical service linking communities that lack access to the highway system to the outside world.
AOPA has been an active participant in the prior phases of the proposed airspace modification review process, and will evaluate and submit formal comments to the Defense Department on the newly released DEIS.
A phased rollout
Following a series of public scoping meetings held in 2011 on the airspace modification initiative, the Defense Department has proposed 12 individual actions, rather than the 10 envisioned previously.
Although the Defense Department is now seeking input on the entire package, the department plans to make final decisions on only the first six proposed actions in 2013. The second phase of the airspace initiative would undergo a process of soliciting additional public input before the details of airspace alternatives are developed.
There will be a series of public hearings in May at various locations in Alaska as detailed in these notices. AOPA encourages the pilot community to attend one or more hearings.
Members may submit comments on the proposed actions by June 7 as provided on the JPARC home page or by mail to ALCOM Public Affairs, 9480 Pease Ave., Suite 120, JBER, AK 99506. Please share your comments with AOPA.
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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