The FAA has announced changes to the special-use airspace complex near Shelby, Miss., that address concerns AOPA had raised with the initial proposal and allow general aviation aircraft to transit the area.
The changes, which take effect Aug. 25 at 0901 Zulu and coincide with the charting cycle, modify restricted areas R-4401A, R-4401B, and R-4401C, along with the De Soto Military Operations Areas (MOAs). Changes to the MOAs will mitigate concerns about GA access by leaving airspace along a Victor airway open for GA traffic, opening a communication line between Houston ARTCC and Camp Shelby Range Control to expedite coordination of the airspace, and returning the airspace to civilian use if needed because of weather or traffic. The restricted area modifications are expected to have no significant impact on GA.
AOPA had objected to the original proposal in 2008, primarily because of impacts on Victor 70; the FAA and Department of Defense responded to user concerns, and the final rule mitigates those impacts.
“The FAA and Department of Defense have been responsive to concerns from the general aviation community,” said AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization Heidi Williams. “By dividing the De Soto MOAs into two altitude sectors, the changes allow uninhibited access to five IFR altitudes along Victor 70.”
The Desoto 4 MOA will extend from 5,000 to FL180 and will overlie only the northern portion of Desoto 2, so it will not impact Victor 70. The floor of the new De Soto 5 MOA is set at 11,000 instead of the originally proposed 5,000 feet. This opens up a gap from 5,000 to 11,000 feet with no SUA.
Restricted Areas A, B, and C will be modified slightly by expanding the southeastern corner about two miles to square off the airspace. The airspace will be vertically subdivided into five sectors: surface to 4,000 feet, 4,000 to 10,000 feet, 10,000 feet to FL180, and FL 180 to FL 290.