Despite opposition from AOPA and others, the FAA has issued a final rule to expand Restricted Area R-3404 in Crane, Ind. The expansion is a result of an effort to protect aircraft flying in the vicinity from the “blast fragments generated during the demilitarization and disposal of a variety of types of unexpended ordnance at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane's Demolition Range.”
AOPA had filed comments in 2007, opposing the expansion. The association urged the military to find a way to contain the blast fragments in the existing restricted area. Now, R-3404 will expand to a 2-nautical-mile diameter and extend up to 4,100 feet.
The expansion will have a negative impact on general aviation: Access to Victor airway V-305 will be reduced while the airspace is active. However, the FAA has indicated that ATC will vector IFR traffic on the airway around the restricted airspace to mitigate the impact. The Victor airway provides the lowest minimum en route altitude in the area for pilots on IFR flight plans, and during the winter months when icing is a concern, it is often the only viable airway for navigation. Pilots flying VFR also will need to circumnavigate the area when R-3404 is active.