Update: Faced with a barrage of controversy, the FAA has extended the comment period until January 31 on a proposal to expand special-use military airspace in southern Indiana. AOPA had filed comments earlier this month contending that the proposal could severely restrict general aviation access to important flight routes and instrument approaches. So AOPA recommended changes that would preserve GA access without impeding military operations.
The proposal would create two military operations areas, the JPG and Racer MOAs, for the U.S. Air Force. AOPA has recommended that the floor of the proposed JPG A MOA be raised from 500 feet above ground level (agl) to 3,500 feet mean sea level (msl) to allow traffic to fly below the special-use airspace.
If the floor of the MOA is not raised, one of the main Victor airways, V51, connecting Indianapolis, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky, would be essentially off limits to general aviation pilots. The airway would be restricted below Flight Level 180. The other Victor airway that connects the two cities, V53, has a minimum en route altitude of 10,000 feet msl, which is near the operational ceiling limit of many general aviation aircraft.
"With the current proposal, pilots will lose access to an airway connecting two major cities," said Heidi Williams, AOPA manager of air traffic policy. "Instrument approaches into some public-use airports will be affected as well. That's why AOPA is recommending a change in the airspace floor that will allow pilots to continue transiting the area."
The Racer MOA would abut the western and southern boundaries of R-3401A/B (Camp Atterbury) and extend west for 4 nm and south/southwest for 23 nm. The JPG MOA would be added to the north and west boundaries of R-3403A/B and extend north for 9 nm and southwest for 36 nm.
IFR operations at some of the public-use airports inside the JPG MOA would be limited. Pilots would be unable to fly three of the instrument approaches into Freeman Municipal (SER), and an ILS approach that is to be activated at the airport next year would be off limits during the active times. A missed approach procedure at Madison Municipal (IMS) also would be affected.
AOPA also is seeking to mitigate the impact of the proposed MOAs by requesting a reduction in the active times. The proposal makes the MOAs active almost all day; however, the Air Force actually plans to use the airspace less than an hour a day.
Comments on the proposal should be sent to:
J. Mark Reeves
Federal Aviation Administration
Central Terminal Operations
Attn: Manager, Airspace Branch (AGL-520)
2300 East Devon Avenue, Room 247
Des Plains, IL 60018
Update: December 14, 2004