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FAA offers guidance on ‘non-depicted’ special airspaceFAA offers guidance on ‘non-depicted’ special airspace

The FAA has added information about temporary restricted areas—a rarely used form of special-use airspace AOPA objects to because it does not appear on navigation charts—to the Aeronautical Information Manual in an update that will take effect March 29.

The Federal Aviation Administration is one of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

The AIM’s new references to TRAs, using language AOPA suggested, represents a successful advocacy effort, and will help direct pilots to other resources about special-use airspace.

The guidance in the AIM’s Chapter 3, Section 4, Special Use Airspace, consists mainly of a cautionary note: “For temporary restricted areas and temporary MOAs, pilots should review the Notices to Airman Publication (NTAP), the FAA SUA website, and/or contact the appropriate overlying ATC facility to determine the effect of non-depicted SUA areas along their routes of flight.”

Several other notes throughout the section warn pilots that temporary restricted areas are not charted.

AOPA opposed the use of three TRAs for military exercises near Twentynine Palms, California, last year. We pointed out in formal comments that TRAs, unlike easier-to-identify temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), lacked published guidance for pilots, making their increased activation after many years a new risk factor for inadvertent airspace incursions.

General aviation’s objections were addressed in a conference with FAA officials in December, held “to discuss the concerns and find the best path forward,” said Rune Duke, AOPA senior director of airspace and air traffic.

“This type of special-use airspace will be needed by the military in the future, so the discussion primarily centered around increasing awareness and giving pilots the tools they need to avoid the airspace,” he said. One such tool would be to find a way to incorporate TRA information in Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS-B) feeds.

That goal won support from a special committee of the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, which analyzed our proposal and issued a white paper for submission to the FAA, noting in a February 2018 letter that the suggested measures could “mitigate the safety gap.”

“Defining how this product will look, and securing FAA funding for it are efforts underway,” Duke said, crediting the RTCA panel for its work to create technical solutions for adding TRAs to FIS-B.

Duke also credited the U.S. Marine Corps for engaging in outreach efforts on the Twentynine Palms airspace concerns. However, he reiterated that “the use of TRAs should be avoided” until better pilot guidance is widely available.

For now, he said, “we are not aware of any approved TRAs for 2018, and there will be no utilization of TRAs at Twentynine Palms this year.”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, FAA publications, Flight Planning

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