AOPA this week told the FAA that a Department of Energy (DOE) request for restricted airspace in Alaska is overkill.
DOE has asked for a permanent airspace restriction (R-2204) 2 nm in radius over Point Oliktok on Alaska's northern shoreline because of a tethered balloon experiment that will be conducted during instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). But the experiment would be conducted no more than 30 days each year 2004-2009. AOPA is suggesting the FAA establish an alert area instead.
"AOPA understands the safety concerns related to an unlit balloon and 6,700-foot mooring cable, and an alert area provides the needed safety and alerting capability," wrote AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Heidi Williams. "Because the aerial activity will only occur during instrument meteorological conditions, an alert area provides an appropriate level of safety for general aviation aircraft."
The FAA's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to create R-2204 and AOPA's formal comments are available online, docket number 15410. The FAA is accepting formal comments at the same Web site through December 8, 2003.