Business & GA

NBAA: FAA Airspace Restrictions in Alaska are ‘Additional Level of Risk’

By S.L. Fuller | April 14, 2017

missile-avoidance-area

Image courtesy of NBAA

The FAA has proposed new restricted areas as R-2201A through H and J in Fort Greely, Alaska, near Allen Army Airfield. These restricted areas come at the request of the U.S. Army, which aims to use the airspace to conduct helicopter gunnery training and other weapons exercises. NBAA has filed formal comments in opposition.

“Eliminating access to more than a half dozen critical low-altitude IFR routes will have significant impact on the connectivity between northern and south-central Alaska. Further compressing of VFR traffic in this already-constrained VFR corridor is a bit like threading a needle — and will result in safety and operational impacts detrimental to navigating Isabel Pass,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure. “If created, the new [special activity area] would impact safety and operational efficiencies in Alaska.”

“This restricted area would impact the LifeMed flights we conduct out of the Fairbanks area,” said Steven Lewis, Aeroair LLC program manager. “We currently receive re-routes from ATC when the MOAs are active, even though we are medevac. To circumvent these vast areas when filing would prove to be extremely onerous to the patients awaiting care by adding to the preflight planning of a time-sensitive flight.”

"In the unique operating environment that Alaska provides, general aviation pilots are already required to manage multiple challenges, such as terrain and weather,” said Kristi Ivey, NBAA’s Northwest regional representative. “This proposal would only serve to add an additional level of risk that could potentially affect the safety of the operations. Our members and the general aviation community in Alaska need proposals that would improve safety, not detract from it.”

The public comment period for the proposal ends April 20.

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