AOPA's efforts to draw attention to a problematic special-use airspace (SUA) proposal in Louisiana has prompted changes to a planned military operations area (MOA). The U.S. Air Force wants to combine and expand the Jones and Lady MOAs, renaming it the Hackett MOA. The original proposal called for "lights out" operations (no external lights or beacons during night flight) and would extend the area to within 1 nm of Natchitoches Regional Airport.
"Once we got the word out about the proposal, both local pilots and the Air Force took a closer look," said AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Heidi Williams. "The Air Force Southern Region headquarters realized that the "lights out" request should not have been included and have pledged to remove it from the proposal."
In addition, the airport manager at Natchitoches Regional and town officials sat down with Air Force representatives to discuss the potential impact of the Hackett MOA. As a result of the talks, the Air Force has agreed to raise the floor of the MOA from 7,000 feet to 10,000 feet in the area near the airport. Air Force officials acknowledge they should have talked to airport and town officials sooner and have agreed to establish regular communications in order to be "good neighbors."
"We're waiting to see the revised proposal to make sure the changes are really included," said Williams. "But for now this looks like a win-win situation created by parties working together instead of pointing fingers."