The changes were good, but still more is needed to make eight proposed military operations areas (MOAs) in southern Indiana both GA-friendly and suitable for the military. That's the gist of AOPA's comments on the most recent versions of the Racer and JPG MOA proposals.
"AOPA supports and appreciates the [military's] cooperation and collaboration with local airspace users to help mitigate many of the negative impacts to local VFR and IFR traffic operating to and from Freeman Municipal, North Vernon, and Madison Municipal airports," wrote Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic, in the association's comments on the proposal. "However, AOPA remains concerned with overall impacts that such a large special use airspace MOA complex will have on transient traffic as well as the impacts...on two prominent Victor Airways running between Indianapolis and Louisville."
AOPA had previously filed comments expressing concern about the impacts of the MOAs on general aviation operations and recommending specific modifications. The U.S. Air Force went back to the user community to solicit more of their input. There were enough changes that AOPA recommended to the FAA that they "recircularize" the proposal so that everyone could see the changes in writing and comment again.
AOPA said that a JPG A MOA boundary should be modified to align with Interstate 65. "Using an easily identifiable landmark, such as a major interstate highway...gives pilots a clear visual reference to identify the MOA boundary in day and night VFR conditions when the airspace is most likely to be active," said AOPA. That change would also ensure that GA aircraft could fly the missed approach procedure for the new ILS to be installed on Runway 05 at Freeman Municipal Airport even when the MOA is active.
But the larger impacts remain for aircraft transitioning through southeastern Indiana, particularly along the route between Louisville and Indianapolis, and particularly if both Racer and JPG MOAs are "hot" simultaneously. The proposal creates a special use airspace complex "that VFR pilots will likely avoid and IFR pilots will be forced to transit around," AOPA said. The association recommended activating only selected sections of the MOAs at any one time.
"AOPA applauds the Indiana Air National Guard for actively working to mitigate the concerns of the local flying community through local outreach," said Williams. "The modified proposal is an excellent example of the positive results that arise from sponsor and user group interaction."
June 1, 2005