Changes to restricted airspace preserve central Florida VFR corridors

July 10, 2013

AOPA is appreciative that the FAA and Department of Defense collaborated to include mitigations that preserve VFR corridors through Florida’s Pinecastle special use airspace complex. Modified restricted airspace areas become effective Aug. 22, which aligns with the charting cycles of the Jacksonville Sectional and Orlando/Tampa Terminal Area charts.

The FAA published a final rule on July 3 that expands restricted airspace areas R-2907A, R-2907B at Lake George, Fla., and R-2910 at Pinecastle Fla. A 2,000-feet msl vertical split addresses some of AOPA’s concerns regarding the heavily populated flying community in central Florida having to potentially circumnavigate a “wall of restricted airspace” that would have been in place if rulemaking  moved forward without changes.

“AOPA was concerned that the proposed charted times of use appeared excessive,’” said Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst of air traffic services. “In an attempt to mitigate the impact for civilian operations, times of use were reduced and the airspace was segmented to allow DOD to use only those portions needed to complete their training.”

AOPA was also concerned with the limited ability to communicate by radio with the controlling agency to determine the status of the airspace, said McCaffrey. “The Department of Defense has agreed to provide a VHF frequency for contacting the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility in Jacksonville, Fla., as communication coverage is better due to the transmitter sites location within the Pinecastle SUA complex,” she said.

The airspace changes include a division of the airspace into two subareas—R-2907B and R-2907C—which will preserve access to two east-west VFR corridors. To further mitigate the effects to the VFR corridor, the Department of Defense has agreed to limit the activation of R-2907C and R-2910E to a maximum of 800 hours per year.

AOPA encourages members who fly in central Florida to become familiar with the modifications to the restricted areas, which will contain hazardous activity.