The FAA has established new restricted airspace R2503D over Camp Pendleton in Southern California, replacing a much larger military operations area (MOA). AOPA did not oppose the new restricted area because it actually allows better access for general aviation.
"From the beginning, the U.S. Marine Corps worked with the general aviation community to minimize the impact of their proposal," said Heidi Williams, AOPA manager of air traffic. "Most importantly, the new area allows pilots to transition within one mile of the shoreline during the times the area is 'hot,' keeping them closer to shore than previous practice with the San Onofre MOA."
The FAA concurred with an AOPA recommendation to chart additional VFR waypoints and DME/radial information depicting the lateral distance of the airspace from the shoreline.
And the FAA also agreed with AOPA that, should the Marines want to use the restricted area more than the requested 20 times per year, the proposal will have to go back through the rulemaking process.
A big issue for local pilots has been how far over water they're forced to fly to stay clear of military-use airspace. Previously, pilots wanting to fly around the MOA had to travel at least three miles offshore during the times the MOA was in use. Since the new restricted area is smaller, now they'll be able to fly only one mile away from the coast.
But they may not have to fly over water at all. Following another request from AOPA and local airspace users, the FAA will publish the radio frequencies for "Longrifle," the Camp Pendleton radar control facility, on sectional charts. Pilots will be able to contact Longrifle directly for permission to transition through R2503D. Even if active military operations preclude flying through the restricted airspace, pilots will still be able to remain within gliding distance of the shoreline.
Instrument operations into Oceanside (OKB) and McClellan-Palomar (CRQ) airports won't be affected at all. A letter of agreement between the tracon and the Marine Corps provides for instrument approaches into both airports, even when the restricted area is active.
September 9, 2004