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TMCNet:  Amendment of Restricted Areas R-2907A and R-2907B, Lake George, FL; and R-2910, Pinecastle, FL

[July 03, 2013]

Amendment of Restricted Areas R-2907A and R-2907B, Lake George, FL; and R-2910, Pinecastle, FL

Jul 03, 2013 (Transportation Department Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- SUMMARY: This action expands the restricted airspace at Lake George, FL, and Pinecastle, FL, providing additional restricted airspace needed to contain airborne laser operations and other hazardous activities. The changes allow more realistic training in current tactics to be conducted at the range.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Effective date 0901 UTC, August 22, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Gallant, Airspace Policy and ATC Procedures Group, Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-8783.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 22, 2010, the FAA published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to restructure and expand the restricted areas at Lake George, FL, and Pinecastle, FL (75 FR 80372). Interested parties were invited to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written comments on the proposal to the FAA. Over 35 responses were received. The commenters included pilots, flight instructors, property owners, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) and Phoenix East Aviation, Inc.

Discussion of Comments The majority of the commenters objected to the proposed establishment of two new restricted areas, R-2907B (located between R-2907 and R-2906); and R-2910D (located between R-2910 and R-2907). Because both R-2907B and R-2910D would extend from 500 feet MSL up to FL 230, the commenters argued that this would block two important east-west VFR corridors forcing VFR pilots to make an extensive circumnavigation of the Pinecastle/Lake George complex or risk flying beneath the restricted areas below 500 feet. Many commenters suggested that raising the floors anywhere from 1,000 feet to 3,000 feet would resolve the situation.

After negotiations with the proponent, it was decided to subdivide R-2907B and R-2910D into two areas each with the split at 2,000 feet MSL. As agreed, R-2907B extends from 2,000 feet MSL up to FL 230; and a new area, R-2907C, is established directly below R-2907B with vertical limits of 500 feet MSL up to but not including 2,000 feet MSL. Similarly, R-2910D is split at 2,000 feet MSL with dimensions of 2,000 feet MSL up to FL 230; and a new area, R-2910E directly beneath R-2910D, with vertical limits of 500 feet MSL up to but not including 2,000 feet MSL. To provide greater opportunity for availability of the VFR corridors, the proponent agreed to limit the activation of R-2907C and R-2910E to a maximum of 800 hours per year. The idea of subdividing the areas at 3,000-feet MSL instead of 2,000 feet was considered. However, the proponent was concerned that a 3,000-foot split could result in the need for more frequent activation of the "low" restricted areas to accomplish some mission profiles, which could further limit access to the VFR corridors.

Another issue noted by the commenters was the compression of airspace due to the close proximity of the southern boundary of R-2910 (extending from the surface to 6,000 feet MSL) to the northern boundary of the Orlando Class B airspace area and the Orlando Mode C veil. Because the R-2910 boundary effectively abuts the Orlando Class B/Mode C veil (a gap less than 1 NM wide) pilots transiting the area would be forced to choose whether to climb above the 6,000-foot restricted area, risk intrusion into the Class B airspace or the restricted area, or make a significant deviation to avoid the area entirely. Non-electrical system/non-transponder equipped aircraft face similar choices regarding the Class B boundary and the Mode C veil. Two commenters suggested moving the southernmost boundary of R-2910 five nautical miles (NM) to the north to alleviate the problem.

Moving the boundary five NM to the north, as suggested, would eliminate R-2910C and most of R-2910B which would adversely affect mission accomplishment. The proponent agreed that R-2910C will be activated only when absolutely necessary to accomplish the mission. When R-2910C is not in use, the gap between R-2910B and the Class B boundary/Mode C veil would be about 2.5 NM.

A number of commenters were concerned about the inability to communicate by radio with the controlling agency to determine the status of the airspace, particularly at lower altitudes. They requested that a communications frequency for the controlling agency be printed on the Sectional Aeronautical Chart to make it easier for pilots to obtain the airspace status while en route.

The proponent agreed to this request and provided a VHF frequency for contacting the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Jacksonville (call sign "Sealord"). Communications coverage with "Sealord" is much better due to the transmitter site being located within the Pinecastle Range complex. Local pilots taking off from airports that lie underneath the Palatka MOA, as well as pilots transiting the area, should be able to determine the status of the airspace without delay. In fact, a communications frequency box for obtaining restricted area status is already published near the restricted areas on both the Jacksonville Sectional Aeronautical Chart and the Tampa/Orlando VFR Terminal Area Chart.

Some commenters said that the published time of designation for the restricted areas more accurately reflect actual utilization. The proponent agreed to reduce the current charted times from "Intermittent, 0500-0100 local time, daily; other times by NOTAM 6 hours in advance," to "Intermittent, 0800-2400 local time, daily; other times by NOTAM 6 hours in advance." During periods when the airspace is not needed by the using agency for its designated purpose, the airspace will be returned to the controlling agency (i.e., Jacksonville ARTCC) for access by other airspace users. Keep in mind that the areas are not constantly in use during the published times. These times reflect the most likely periods when activity could occur and the 6-hour NOTAM provision provides the using agency with the flexibility to accommodate mission requirements outside the "core" hours. The charted status frequency box provides a means for pilots to obtain real time status of the restricted areas.

Differences From NPRM Restricted area R-2906 was added to this rule to reduce the time of designation to be consistent with the adjacent restricted areas and to update the name of the using agency. The current boundaries and altitudes for R-2906 are not affected by this rule.

The time of designation for all Pinecastle, FL, and Lake George, FL, restricted areas is reduced from "Intermittent, 0500 to 0100 local time, daily; other times by NOTAM 6 hours in advance," to "Intermittent, 0800-2400, daily; other times by NOTAM, 6 hours in advance." R-2907B was further divided into two subareas: R-2907B and R-2907C, to preserve access to a VFR corridor. Similarly, R-2910D was divided into two subareas: R-2910D and R-2910E, to preserve access to a VFR corridor.

The Rule This action amends 14 CFR part 73 by modifying restricted areas R-2906, Rodman, FL; R-2907A and B, Lake George, FL; and R-2910, Pinecastle, FL, as outlined below.

R-2906 Changes The NPRM did not propose any changes for R-2906. However, it was decided to reduce the time of designation for R-2906 from "Intermittent, 0500 to 0100 local time, daily; other times by NOTAM 6 hours in advance," to "Intermittent, 0800 to 2400 local time, daily; other times by NOTAM 6 hours in advance," to match the times for R-2907 and R-2910. In addition, an editorial correction is made to the using agency name by removing the abbreviation "NAS" from the text. The boundaries and altitudes of R-2906 remain unchanged.

R-2907 Changes This action expands the boundaries of R-2907A westward to incorporate that restricted airspace currently designated as R-2907B. Further, the upper altitude limit in that incorporated section (currently 6,000 feet and 9,000 feet MSL) is raised to FL 230 to match the current R-2907A ceiling. The R-2907B title is redescribed as a new restricted area immediately to the north of the newly incorporated section of R-2907A. The new R-2907B extends northward from the expanded R-2907A boundary to abut the boundary of the southern half of existing restricted area R-2906, Rodman, FL. In the NPRM, the FAA proposed that R-2907B would extend from 500 feet MSL up to FL 230. After commenters objected, as discussed above, it was decided to further subdivide R-2907B into two areas. The revised R-2907B extends from 2,000 feet MSL up to FL 230; and a new area, R-2907C extends from 500 feet MSL up to but not including 2,000 feet MSL (directly below R-2907B). R-2907C will be activated only on a limited basis, not to exceed 800 hours per year, and only when absolutely needed to accomplish the mission. This ensures greater availability of the VFR corridor than what was originally proposed.

R-2910 Changes --This is a summary of a Federal Register article originally published on the page number listed below-- Final rule.

CFR Part: "14 CFR Part 73" RIN Number: "RIN 2120-AA66" Citation: "78 FR 39964" Document Number: "Docket No. FAA-2010-1146; Airspace Docket No. 10-ASO-25" Federal Register Page Number: "39964" "Rules and Regulations"

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