In formal comments filed Dec. 15 with the FAA, AOPA asked the agency to suspend the current rulemaking process until more information can be gathered about the need for and impact of proposed special air traffic rules around Luke Air Force Base.
The Air Force wants to create a special air traffic rule (SATR) to help separate civilian and military aircraft in the congested airspace near Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base. But AOPA contends that the military has not produced recent evidence demonstrating the need for the airspace and that the airspace, as designed, could create new safety problems for general aviation aircraft transiting the Phoenix area.
The Air Force is basing its request on near midair collision data from before 2000. But that information is outdated and does not account for the voluntary efforts by AOPA, local airports, and the Air Force to reduce the problem—efforts begun in 2000.
In addition, the proposal could create new hazards by crowding VFR traffic into narrow corridors at low altitudes in order to avoid the special-use airspace, and it does not account for how that might affect pilots and people on the ground, AOPA argued.
“We asked the FAA to suspend the rulemaking process until the Air Force can provide data to justify the need for the airspace and until the appropriate safety and environmental assessments can be completed,” said Randy Kenagy, AOPA government affairs chief of staff. “The current proposal is based on outdated information and doesn’t appear to consider all the possible consequences of creating this airspace.”
AOPA is also asking the FAA to consider whether the area meets the criteria for the establishment of Class C airspace, since the two-way radio communications requirements would match those for Class C.