The 412,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has filed formal comments to the military and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opposing the proposed changes to the Condor military operations area (MOA) near Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine.
"Placing high-speed, low-altitude military aircraft into airspace that is regularly occupied by slower moving, less-equipped general aviation (GA) aircraft increases the potential for midair collisions," wrote Pete Lehmann, AOPA government analyst, in a letter to FAA.
The military training airspace currently begins at 7,000 feet, but the proposal from the Massachusetts Air National Guard would lower the floor of that airspace to 500 feet. Air traffic controllers from Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) have stated that radar coverage and communications with aircraft - both military and civilian - are intermittent to non-existent below 7,000 feet in the footprint of the Condor MOA due to radar limitations, thus increasing the safety risk.
In its letter to the Air National Guard, AOPA requested that the military conduct an environmental impact study before implementing the proposed airspace changes. In addition, AOPA suggested that the military review the special-use airspace in the Northeast and use it more effectively, to avoid having to create new airspace.
"Adirondack Special Use Airspace (SUA) could be used in lieu of establishing a new MOA," wrote Lehmann to the Air National Guard.
The military has extended the public comment period for environmental assessment comments to August 15, 2007. Comments may be submitted to: LTC Landon Jones, Air National Guard Readiness Center, Chief, Environmental Planning Branch, NGB/A7CVP, 3500 Fetchet Avenue, Andrews AFB, MD 20762-5157. The comment period for the aeronautical study comments ended on July 15, 2007.
On behalf of its 412,000 members, more than 18,800 of whom live in New England, AOPA has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. pilots, and three-quarters of the GA pilots, are AOPA members.
July 18, 2007