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Military seeks New Mexico airspace plan commentsMilitary seeks New Mexico airspace plan comments

The U.S. Air Force has released a draft environmental impact statement in connection with its proposal to reconfigure special-use airspace at Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico for F–16 fighter pilot training.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.

Members may examine the three proposed alternatives for “optimizing” the airspace contained in the draft environmental impact statement and submit comments online by January 31, or at one of a series of informal meetings scheduled between November 18 and December 5.

According to the draft document issued in October, a new airspace configuration is necessary because special-use airspace used by pilots based at Holloman Air Force Base “was developed for legacy aircraft more than 30 years ago. As such, it does not have the optimum volume or attributes needed to meet the training requirements of pilots flying modern aircraft.”

The draft environmental impact statement details three proposed airspace configurations and their potential impact. It also addresses “relinquishing unneeded training airspace back to the National Airspace System,” which is a key advocacy priority for AOPA in airspace proposals involving special-use airspace. AOPA emphasized the need to preserve the availability of airspace when submitting preliminary comments in September 2017, when the military first made public its intent to initiate the airspace modification.

In that filing, AOPA also noted the importance of general aviation to New Mexico’s economy, citing a study’s findings that “aviation supports over 48,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in payroll. There are 60 public-owned, public-use airports in the state, serving more than 4,500 active pilots and 3,300 general aviation aircraft.”

AOPA plans to submit new comments after reviewing the draft environmental impact statement and encourages members to submit their comments as well. To help us determine the issues on which GA pilots place the highest priority for attention, please also share a copy of your comments with AOPA.

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, Airspace Redesign, Special Use Airspace

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