Feb. 25, 2004 - A planned change to restricted airspace near Alexandria, La., will effectively shut down a segment of a low-altitude Victor airway. AOPA is calling on the FAA and the U.S. Air Force to ensure general aviation retains access to a vital air route.
The Air Force was to reorganize the current restricted area R-3801, transforming one segment of the area from restricted to a military operations area - a move AOPA supports - but then raise the ceiling on the remaining two portions from 14,000 feet msl to 23,000 feet msl, essentially slamming the door on V-212.
The practical implication for GA pilots in the area is longer flights and greater fuel consumption. For instance, a flight from Crosby Municipal Airport (C71) in Crosby, Miss., to Groveton-Trinity County Airport (33R) in Groveton, Texas, two airports that lie along V-212, would ordinarily take about two hours in a typical GA aircraft. But diverting around the restricted area using other airways would add nearly a half hour to the trip.
"Victor-212 is the only airway through not only the restricted area, but also a huge MOA," said AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Heidi Williams. "Pilots would either have to climb into the flight levels - an impracticality for most GA aircraft and an impossibility for VFR pilots - or fly around a huge section of airspace.
"AOPA backs the Air Force call to convert some restricted airspace into a MOA," said Williams, "but the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and the 917th Fighter Wing must work together and ensure that GA is not denied access to V-212."