AOPA concerned about proposed unmanned aircraft operations

Alaska military airspace proposal would cut GA routes

July 17, 2013

While the Department of Defense has made some modifications in response to comments from AOPA and pilots, the proposed configuration of the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) would have serious negative impacts on general aviation operations in and around the sprawling mix of proposed new restricted and special use airspace, and military operations areas (MOAs) between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska.

AOPA is particularly concerned about a proposed set of restricted areas, and transit corridors between those areas, to be reserved exclusively for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), effectively cutting off critical north-south travel routes including transit through Isabel Pass.

AOPA previously provided comments following release of a draft environmental impact study, joining Alaska pilots in calling for significant changes to the proposed design. The proposed JPARC complex includes expansion or establishment of new military operations areas along heavily traveled general aviation routes. In addition, restricting airspace for the exclusive use of unmanned aircraft is unacceptable to the user community, and AOPA has pressed this point repeatedly with both military and FAA officials.

AOPA continues to work with other advocacy groups, both nationwide and within Alaska.

If the FAA decides to move forward with proposed changes on the JPARC initiative, it will provide additional opportunity for pilots and other interested parties to comment on the proposed airspace changes. AOPA will alert members when that opportunity becomes available, and continue to press for commonsense revisions to the JPARC design, balancing the needs of the aviation community that is a critical element of the state’s transportation infrastructure against the military’s desire to expand live ordinance and other training areas.

In addition, AOPA will continue to press for expansion of the Special Use Airspace Information Service (SUAIS), a critical tool for pilots navigating the massive complex of military areas. Additional infrastructure will be required to fully serve the eastern portion of the state with SUAIS services.