AOPA is in talks with the U.S. Air Force to mitigate the general aviation community’s concerns about the proposed establishment of a low-level training route for large C-17 transport aircraft in the vicinity of Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base.
AOPA encourages members to review the proposal’s draft environmental assessment and submit comments on how it would affect their flight operations by Feb. 17.
Under the proposal, a low-level training route designated Monster West would be established for crew-training use of the large aircraft. The route, for use below 1,500 feet agl at speeds less than 250 knots, would be designated as a locally defined VFR route, and would not appear on charts. Aircraft would fly no lower than 500 feet agl, and would avoid public airports in the area by three nautical miles laterally or 1,500 feet vertically, said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic.
According to the proposal, the low-level training route would allow pilots to conduct low-level, land-based navigation in a “simulated GPS-degraded environment.” The airspace configuration would cover more land area than the existing Monster Mile locally defined VFR route, which is primarily situated over the Delaware Bay.
The military believes that other nearby locally defined VFR routes and slow routes, which are also uncharted and contain large military aircraft at low levels and up to 250 knots, do not offer the same benefit as a new route that would begin and end at Dover Air Force Base, Duke said.
The proposal includes among other provisions the lowering of a minimum altitude restriction over Milford, Delaware, from 3,000 feet agl to 2,000 feet agl. The proposal also would permit overflying the historic Cherbourg, Delaware, Round Barn at 500 feet agl.
“AOPA is concerned about the impact the Monster West low-level training route will have,” said Duke. “It will bring large, transport category aircraft at traffic pattern altitudes within just a few miles of nearly 40 airports in a popular general aviation area. AOPA has engaged with the military proponent, managers of affected airports, and local pilots to discuss the proposal, and plans to submit comments.”
Members are encouraged to submit comments to the Air Force by Feb. 17 by email or mail to Mr. Steven Seip, 436 CES/CEIE 600 Chevron Avenue, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware 19902-5600. Please share your comments with AOPA.