A new deadline of Jan. 20, 2011, has been set for pilots to comment on the potential environmental impact of a proposal that would create the largest special-use airspace complex in the United States. AOPA is strongly encouraging pilots to share their concerns about the potential impacts of the proposed airspace in writing.
The Air Force has extended the comment period for the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the planned expansion of the Powder River Training Complex that covers parts of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The original deadline was Nov. 15 for comments on the plan that would create a special-use airspace complex roughly the size of South Carolina.
AOPA participated in hearings on the DEIS and submitted formal comments, as reported Nov. 11.
The Air Force has proposed conducting B-1 and B-52 bomber training missions that would include deploying flares and metallic chaff—a hazard to non-participating VFR aircraft operating legally in the airspace. Airspace within the complex would increase from 7,000 square miles to about 28,000 square miles.
AOPA described the proposal as unjustified and potentially imposing “substantial negatives” on general aviation, from safety-of-flight concerns to economic hardships for GA operations and businesses at 39 directly affected airports, with 285 based aircraft and many transient flights. Detouring to avoid hazards could add more than 100 miles to a flight.
Pilots should send comments to Ms. Linda DeVine, Program Manager ACC/A7PS, 129 Andrews St., Suite 337, Langley AFB, VA 23665 by Jan. 20, 2011.