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AOPA formally opposes military airspace growth in Maine

AOPA has filed formal comments in opposition to a military proposal that calls for 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 aircraft increases the potential for midair collisions," wrote Pete Lehmann, AOPA government analyst, in a letter to FAA.

Listen to the radio story from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

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 have stated that radar coverage and communications with aircraft — both military and civilian — are intermittent to nonexistent below 7,000 feet in the footprint of the Condor MOA due to radar limitations. This would increase 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 special-use airspace in the Northeast and use it more effectively to avoid having to create new airspace.

The military has extended the public comment period for environmental assessment comments to August 15. 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.

July 16, 2007

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