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FAA proposes changes to Chippewa MOAFAA proposes changes to Chippewa MOA

Mr. Denis C. Burke
Manager, Airspace Branch, AGL-520
Federal Aviation Administration
2300 East Devon Avenue
Des Plaines, IL 60018

Dear Mr. Burke:

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), representing the interests of over 380,000 aviation enthusiasts and professionals nationwide, submits the following comments to Airspace Case 02-AGL-16-NR. In this proposal, the United States Air Force is requesting changes to the Chippewa Military Operations Area (MOA). While the volume of airspace consumed by this modification is relatively small, the impact to general aviation pilots is increased. Based on this, AOPA requests that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) adopt a mitigation strategy consistent with maximizing the safe and efficient use of airspace enjoyed by pilots throughout this region.

While pilots may legally operate within a MOA under visual flight rules (VFR), it is important to note that having both military and non-participating aircraft sharing the same airspace places additional demands on pilots. For many within the general aviation community, the concerns raised serve as a de facto restriction, thus limiting the safe and efficient use of airspace. The best strategy for mitigating this impact is to provide both scheduling and real-time airspace information to civil aviators. This will not only aid pilots during their preflight planning, it will also allow them to make educated in-flight decisions concerning the conduct of their flight. AOPA's proposed mitigation strategy includes the following:

  • The scheduling/using agency should provide a toll-free telephone number that may be used to obtain scheduling information. While this may not be published on charts produced by the FAA, the Department of Aeronautics for each state within the Great Lakes region could publish this information in their materials (flight planning charts, airport guides, etc.). The FAA could also circulate a letter to airmen within the Great Lakes Region advising them of this change, along with the aforementioned contact information.
  • The using agency should also make the status of this airspace known on their unit's automated terminal information service (ATIS).
  • The controlling agency's contact information (frequency) should be made available in the tabular portion of the Chicago sectional.
  • The FAA and using agency should collaboratively develop pilot educational programs focused on special-use airspace. These should be given at airports proximate to the Chippewa MOA and involve military flight crews as well as air traffic control personnel.

While changes such as the one proposed will not profoundly impact users of the National Airspace System, the FAA must be mindful that no impact to general aviation can be considered trivial. With the enlargement of the MOA's footprint and the lowering of its floor, both VFR and IFR traffic lose a very valuable 2,000 feet of altitude strata. As a result, the need for accurate, easily accessible airspace information only increases. With this in mind, AOPA asks for the FAA's help in ensuring the needs of the general aviation community are met through the implementation of the cited strategy.

Respectfully,

Michael W. Brown
Associate Director
Air Traffic, Regulatory, and Certification Policy

May 22, 2002

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