A defense company has withdrawn its request to fly a tractor-trailer-sized tethered balloon in airspace near Camp Verde, Ariz., said the FAA.
STARA Technologies sought approval to set up the helium-filled balloon 2,500 feet above ground level in airspace close to two general aviation airports. The balloon, a component of the company’s advanced camera technology, would have remained aloft 24 hours a day, seven days a week for about five years. The company has not said whether it is seeking another location for the balloon, but AOPA will review any new proposal that may be forthcoming.
The FAA had planned to evaluate the impact of the balloon’s presence on instrument flight operations. But there was no requirement to evaluate the impact on aircraft operating under visual flight rules, as AOPA pointed out when lodging objections to the plan in February.
“While this action mitigates the concerns of pilots in the Camp Verde area, tethered balloons remain a concern across the country because they are not evaluated for their impact on VFR flight operations and are not subject to public input and comments. AOPA will continue to work with the FAA to include VFR evaluations and a public comment process similar to other obstructions in the National Airspace System,” said Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of air traffic services.