June 8, 2004 - Over AOPA's objections, the FAA has published a final rule implementing restricted airspace in northern Alaska for a Department of Energy (DOE) weather balloon experiment. AOPA had argued in favor of a less restrictive alert area.
The FAA granted DOE's request 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 beginning October 2004-2009. The restricted area would expire after 2009.
"We understand the need for safety and the FAA's perspective on establishing restricted airspace," said AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Heidi Williams. "However, we still believe an alert area would provide the level of safety required for all users of the airspace."
The new R-2204 will be effective August 5, 2004, and will be charted by that time.