January 19, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
AOPA, expressing disappointment with the Navy’s plan to seek new special-use airspace (SUA) for training operations at the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility in Boardman, Ore.—despite its past assurances to the contrary—is urging pilots to state their views on the issue for the record, and has requested a 60-day extension of the current Jan. 26 deadline for doing so.
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The Navy has revised a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for training activities at the facility, and is asserting that existing SUA is not adequate for the training activities. It has disclosed plans to seek two new military operations areas (MOAs) northeast of the existing SUA complex—but did so without holding new public scoping meetings and providing a comment period of just 30 days, AOPA said. The existing SUA complex is located just south and west of Boardman Airport.
One proposed MOA would be established from 500 feet agl to 3,999 feet msl north of the existing restricted area R-5701B. A second MOA is proposed from 4,000 feet msl to 17,999 feet msl north of R-5701C.
AOPA had received previous assurances that no changes to existing SUA or additional SUA would be proposed in connection with the training program.
“AOPA has consistently requested transparent, upfront communication by our Defense Department partners,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization.
Since only written comments will be accepted on the revised notice of intent, Williams urged pilots to take the opportunity to register their views. See the project website for details and instructions for submitting comments. Please also share your comments with AOPA.
“Requesting a 60-day extension of the comment period will allow AOPA to better inform members about the Navy's plan, provide adequate time for our public review, and allow substantive comments on the scoping process,” Williams said, adding that “the whole purpose of the environmental process is to collect public input.”
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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