As proposed, the Delta Temporary Military Operations Areas (TMOAs) would shut off the only IFR Victor airway connecting northern Alaska directly with Delta Junction, Canada, and the contiguous United States.
The Eleventh Air Force has proposed the TMOAs to conduct Red Flag Alaska training exercises in 2010 and augment established MOAs in the vicinity. AOPA wrote to the FAA Dec. 7 to recommend modifying the proposal to mitigate the airspace’s impact on general aviation traffic and prevent closure of the airway during major training exercises.
“AOPA recommends the airspace be separated into a low and high MOA along the airway that would allow the low MOA (10,000 feet and below) to remain available for use,” wrote AOPA Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman. The military would need to establish real-time coordination of the airspace to permit military training while safely accommodating GA traffic through the airway, V-444.
V-444 is used by local traffic in Alaska and also connects Fairbanks International Airport with destinations to the east. “The only alternative IFR route would require a detour of nearly 390 nautical miles, with a minimum enroute altitude (MEA) of 10,000 feet that requires two crossings of the Alaska Range,” Hackman wrote. “This is not practical or safe for many general aviation aircraft.”
The Air Force has indicated that it intends to make the temporary MOAs permanent in the near future. The FAA and Department of Defense have already proposed a permanent Delta MOA complex. AOPA and the Alaskan aviation community have actively worked with the FAA and Air Force to explore creative solutions for all users of the airspace. AOPA Alaska Regional Representative Tom George has been at the forefront of AOPA’s involvement in Alaskan aviation issues such as the MOAs by addressing direct member impacts of proposals.
From AOPA’s discussions with the FAA and Air Force, innovations such as the Special Use Airspace Information Service (SUAIS) have greatly increased situational awareness for VFR traffic operating in the eastern Alaska special use airspace complex. A similar effort is needed to continue uninterrupted access for IFR traffic, while supporting the military’s need to train. AOPA submitted comments to the Draft Environmental Assessment for the proposed permanent MOA in August 2008, as well as to the formal proposal in September 2009.
While the Delta TMOAs would not be large, they would make up a part of a much larger special use airspace complex within eastern Alaska.
“The cumulative impact of this complex, many times the size of multiple eastern states, effectively blocks IFR traffic between northern Alaska and destinations east including Canada and the lower 48 United States,” Hackman wrote.