May 23, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
Thanks to the willingness of the U.S. Army and advocacy efforts by AOPA, three restricted airspace areas in Virginia will not be used until the Washington sectional chart has been updated to include the new areas.
New restricted airspace areas near Virginia’s Fort A.P. Hill, R-6601 A, B, and C, were scheduled to become active June 27, but the next Washington sectional charting cycle is not until July 25, which would have left a 29-day gap of the airspace not being depicted.
AOPA had formally urged the FAA on several occasions to align airspace actions with VFR charting cycles to ensure that accurate airspace depictions are made readily available to the flying public, said Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst of air traffic services. “AOPA reached out to local pilots and urged the FAA to collaborate with the Department of Defense on this and future airspace actions that do not align with VFR charting cycles,” she said.
“AOPA was informed by the Army they were made aware of the issue and committed to delay the use of R-6601 A, B, and C until the next charting cycle of the Washington Sectional Chart,” said McCaffrey. “AOPA is encouraged by the collaboration between the Army, the FAA, and stakeholders in this case.” R-6601 will be utilized as normal, with only the new areas use being delayed, she added.
The Army is a part of the community, so accommodating this issue is part of being a good neighbor, said Army spokesman Robert McElroy. “We think this is a good idea because we’re as concerned as AOPA and the FAA about pilot safety,” he said. “We will be busier this summer as the National Guard does its training, so it’s important that people flying over Fort A.P. Hill know what the airspace requirements are.”
Bringing light to the issue of airspace actions not aligning with VFR charting cycles is vital, said McCaffrey.
“Our members bear the burden of penetrating special-use airspace without knowing it exists,” said McCaffrey. “The fact that the Army has acknowledged this issue and acted accordingly to mitigate the risk to VFR operators is certainly a step in the right direction in ensuring safety of flight of both military and GA pilots. We appreciate the Army’s willingness to ensure VFR flyers are adequately notified.”
Members who transit the Fort A.P. Hill area need to be aware of the new restricted areas that will become active July 25 and plan accordingly.
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