The FAA this week released a draft environmental assessment of its intentions to convert Clinton-Sherman Municipal Airport in Clinton, Oklahoma, into a spaceport.
AOPA is concerned because the assessment is vague and does not address the potentially huge impact on general aviation.
"What we have been able to glean from the assessment, though, is a potential impact on airways," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services. "For three hours during each launch from Clinton, it is possible that 16 Victor airways could be closed. When combined with the two nearby military operations areas, a launch could severely limit the options for GA aircraft transiting across the entire state of Oklahoma."
AOPA has been in contact with the FAA and has learned that an internal working group at the agency is working to find a way for these flights to occur under air traffic control separation.
"The assessment says that a maximum of 54 flights a year will be authorized, and AOPA wants to make sure that these flights will not require temporary flight restrictions," Williams said. "AOPA is pleased that the FAA is seeking a nonrestrictive way to separate aircraft, and we want to make sure that guidelines for separation are in place before any flights take place."
The FAA will be having a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, at the South Western Oklahoma Development Authority, Western Technology Center in Burns Flat, Oklahoma.
Comments on the assessment should be sent to:
Doug Graham, FAA Environmental Specialist
FAA Oklahoma Spaceport EA c/o ICF Consulting
9300 Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22031
February 9, 2006