An online survey is asking general aviation pilots who fly in a large complex of special-use airspace in four western states to provide feedback on the airspace’s impact on flight safety and their access to airports.
Information collected by the survey, being conducted by AOPA in cooperation with other aviation organizations, will help document GA’s needs when the advocacy groups participate in the next meeting of the Powder River Council on April 5 at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. Pilots should complete the brief survey by Feb. 18.
In September 2015, the airspace was expanded to its current dimensions. After a near-midair collision between a GA aircraft and a B-1 bomber in the complex in June 2016, AOPA and the leadership of the U.S. Air Force’s 28th Bomb Wing agreed on the need to form a council to discuss operational issues.
The Powder River Council held its first meeting at Ellsworth Air Force Base on Nov. 16, 2016, with more than 35 stakeholders from GA, the military, the FAA, the four states’ aviation officials, and elected officials’ representatives attending. The session, led by Warren Hendrickson, AOPA’s Northwest Mountain regional manager, and a former U.S. Air Force A-7 Corsair and F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, included presentations by military and civilian airspace users.
Stakeholders agreed that the council’s goals included reviewing the implementation of the complex’s mitigation and monitoring plan, tracking aeronautical concerns, collaborating on proposed solutions, developing education and outreach, and driving efforts to improve aeronautical efficiency and safety.
“The key objective of the Powder River Council is to recognize that, while there are many competing demands for this airspace, it is incumbent upon all users to identify problems and collaborate in the creation of mitigated solutions that meet the needs of all airspace users,” Hendrickson said at the time of the initial meeting. “Safety and efficiency are primary watchwords.”
The short online survey asks pilots to detail how often they fly in the complex, their normal altitudes of use, adverse impacts they have experienced, and potential economic impacts. In additions, pilots should note whether they would use air traffic control services if available at their altitudes and whether they have the information necessary to determine if the complex is active.
AOPA urges pilots to respond to the survey by Feb. 18 to be sure their input is available at the April 5 council meeting.