It's been a long battle - nearly 10 years of give and take with the Air Force - but AOPA has successfully helped give GA pilots better access to airspace along southeastern Georgia.
The Air Force redesigned the Coastal Military Operations Area (MOA) complex to allow general aviation pilots to fly along the Georgia coast and I-95. Additionally, two VFR waypoints will be added to aid pilots flying north or south on the eastern side of the MOA, and a VHF frequency and toll-free telephone number will be available for pilots to get the real-time status of the special-use airspace.
"The Air Force, pilots, and AOPA have been working on this issue for a long time, and this should help members flying in the area," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services, "particularly because the Air Force has made the airspace more user-friendly by enabling pilots to get the current status of the MOA complex."
The Air Force addressed AOPA's concerns that the MOA blocked access to portions of the coastline and I-95 by removing the eastern sector of the complex and moving another boundary to open up airspace above the interstate.
Another win is the fact that the lateral dimension of Restricted Area R-3007 (within the MOA complex) is smaller. AOPA did have to give up the ceiling of the restricted area, which increased from 13,000 feet to 25,000 feet.
"Most members wouldn't fly over the original restricted area because its ceiling was so high," Williams said. "So the decrease in the radius of the airspace translates into time saved for pilots flying around it."
The charted times of use for the MOA complex have increased, but members likely will be able to use the airspace more often. That's because a VHF frequency and telephone number are available for pilots to call to find out whether the airspace is hot or cold.
"Now that pilots can get real-time status information, they can feel more confident flying in the area, knowing for certain when the airspace is not in use," Williams said. "This turns the MOA and restricted area into a more usable chunk of airspace."
June 6, 2006