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NBAA: Proposed Restricted Areas in Alaska Would Have Negative Operational Impacts

NBAA has filed formal comments in opposition to proposed new restricted areas proposed by the FAA as R-2201A through H, and J, in Fort Greely, AK, near Allen Army Airfield. The agency has proposed the change at the request of the U.S. Army, which is seeking this airspace carve out to “conduct full spectrum helicopter gunnery training, longer range firing on target areas and integrated use of varied weapon types.”

NBAA opposes the creation of this new restricted area, said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure, on operational and safety grounds.

“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,” she said. “If created, the new SAA [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.”

The proposed SAA will make flying in Alaska more difficult and less safe, said Kristi Ivey, NBAA’s Northwest regional representative. “In the unique operating environment that Alaska provides, general aviation pilots are already required to manage multiple challenges, such as terrain and weather.

“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,” she said.

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