Boundaries of proposed Smitty MOA
Apr. 29, 2004 - AOPA says it opposes a proposed military operations area (MOA) near Socorro, N.M., because its floor would be 500' above ground level (AGL). The proposed Smitty MOA would have a significant negative impact on Magdalena Municipal Airport (N29) and Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic transiting the area.
"In formal comments on the proposal, AOPA instead recommended a floor of 3,000' AGL for the MOA, thereby allowing VFR traffic to fly underneath while still allowing for military operations," said AOPA Manager Heidi Williams.
The new MOA would underlie and have the same lateral boundaries as the existing Cato MOA, which has a 13,500' floor. Charted active times for the MOA would be seven days a week from 8:00am until 10:00 pm and if the floor of Smitty remains at 500', VFR aircraft transiting this airspace area would be forced to circumnavigate the entire MOA footprint. In a recent survey, 73% of AOPA members indicate that they deviate around Special Use Airspace (SUA). This deviation would increase flying time be at least 30 minutes while also increasing the pilot's cost for the flight.
The proposal would also have a negative effect on local pattern operations at Magdalena Municipal Airport (N29). The local pattern altitude would be above the proposed 500ï¿½ AGL floor of the MOA, potentially placing civilian and military aircraft on a collision course. AOPA suggested that airspace around N29 be excluded from the MOA to allow for pattern operations.