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Thread: Proposed Restricted Airspace in North Dakota

  1. #1
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Proposed Restricted Airspace in North Dakota

    Folks,

    The military is proposing two large blocks of Restricted airspace in north central North Dakota for the purpose of facilitating UAS training operations.

    You can find the documents on this at http://www.grandforksuaseis.com/

    Meetings to review the Restricted airspace proposal for North Dakota are to be held at 4:30 to 7:30, with a presentation at 5:30 and public comments to follow at the following locations:

    Grand Forks, ND: Monday February 8, Alerus Center Junior Ballroom 3

    Devil's Lake, ND: Tuesday February 9, Lake Region State College Dining Room

    Carrington, ND: Wednesday February 10, Chieftan Conference Center Tepee Room

    Langdon, ND: Thursday, February 11, NDSU Langdon Research Extension Center

    I encourage anyone who might fly through this airspace to attend one of these meetings or to review the proposal and comment online.

    Remember, see and avoid is our primary means of separation between aircraft. If one of the aircraft can't see except straight down.......

    No radar in much of this area. The floors of the proposed airspace is fairly high in these proposals, but they will virtually eliminate IFR traffic through there, including medevacs, etc.

    Please have a look and comment.

    MTV

  2. #2
    WWhunter's Avatar
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    Mike,
    Is that the correct link? I keep getting a "cannot find" message.
    WW

  3. #3
    Coyote Ugly's Avatar
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    Not to be negative, but we went through all of this many years ago around here in Central Nevada, once for MOA'S and again for a Supersonic Testing Area, with enlargement of the Restricted Area.

    Every person at every meeting that they held, was against it, and they put it in it anyway.

    If I was doing it again, I'd try getting your Assemblyman, Senator and Congressman involved.

    Just know that after the Restricted Area, will be more and more MOA's, and Supersonic Testing Areas.

    I like to support my Military, but why can't they train out over the ocean? {here it's the Navy}

    Sorry for the attitude...
    "Pops Dory"
    They used to say there are no old, bold pilots, Hell, looka here...

  4. #4
    Coyote Ugly's Avatar
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    Oh, and I think the most powerful friend you may have against this is your local Indian Tribe.
    "Pops Dory"
    They used to say there are no old, bold pilots, Hell, looka here...

  5. #5
    WindOnHisNose's Avatar
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    Mike, I'm not getting the link, either. I fly through the state frequently, and frequently IFR, to see patients in Minot, Bismarck, Fargo, and Great Falls.

    Thanks for the head's up!

    Randy

  6. #6
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Sorry, guys, fat fingers in the morning, and I typed in the url, rather than cutting and pasting it. It's correct now, and works.

    CU,

    I went through nearly three years working on airspace in eastern Alaska, with meetings at least every two weeks, and sometimes every week. We (the civilian community) did make some progress on that program, though we also got run over on some other parts. Now, the AF is back, trying to do away with many of the concessions that we got built in to protect civil traffic.

    That's what spooks me about this proposal. While the floors of this proposed restricted airspace are listed at 6,000 feet, and the current crop of UAS operate typically well above that altitude, this airspace is being proposed for training of UAS operators, and not just military UAS operators. UND is jumping all over the UAS thing, and wants to become the UAS training headquarters for the world.

    So, my concerns are several fold:

    1) these restricted areas will block IFR traffic, including medevacs, from a large portion of north central ND. There may be good radar coverage out there, but I'm betting you won't get IFR clearance in there unless there are NO UAS operating in the airspace.

    2) Currently, the proposal is to operate Predator and Global Hawk in this airspace. Those machines typically operate at relatively high altitude. However, there are all sorts of UAS out there, including some fairly small ones, and ones with less sophisticated sensors. How long do you think it will take for the operators of THOSE machines and UND to decide that they need to expand this restricted airspace downward? I'm betting it won't be two years. So, how low would it go?? This is my biggest concern.

    3) The expansion of the Powder River MOAS has been really quiet lately. THat proposal, while not restricted airspace, would implement HUGE MOA airspace all over much of eastern Montana, Wyoming, and western North Dakota. This whole part of the world could become VERY complex to navigate under IFR, and potentially pretty scary under VFR.

    When the Air Force proposed to massively expand their training airspace in southern Idaho (out of Mtn Home AFB) they got trounced pretty hard. They certainly didn't get what they wanted out of that deal. They needn't all be a given that they'll go through.

    Please look this over and comment, at the very least.

    Sorry for the error in the original posts.

    MTV

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    How often will this be hot?

    It is too bad that our senate members are in favor of this, so they are no help whatsoever.

    I plan to attend, even if it is probably a done deal.

  8. #8
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Lance,

    How often will it be hot? Doesn't matter, really. The posted times are when they're probably not going to let anyone through there, whether there are UAV's out there or not. ATC isn't always willing to do the research to find out if there's actually anyone out there, since it's easy to just deny passage.

    And, remember, it's the ATC computer which generates your IFR flight plan route, and it sure isn't going to drop a dime to find out if it's hot.

    Finally, again, UND is pushing real hard for all sorts of UAS applications, and there is virtually no place currently in existence where UASs would have this much area to roam. So, you're going to see a LOT of demand to actually schedule this airspace, if it's implemented.

    Then, when they decide they need to accomodate smaller UAS's which operate at, say 500 feet, you can bet the airspace will be expanded.

    MTV

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    Mike,

    I pulled up that site and what you are seeing is the public comment requirement for and EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) which seems overkill as it seems more of an EA (Environmental Assessment) kind of thing where they don't have to take extended comment but perhaps some obscure federal regulation is driving that.

    I understand your complaints and concerns but they don't count in an EIS unless you challenge the adverse "cultural impact" of reduced flight accessibility but the political endorsements they have may offset that.

    This sounds done deal to me but I would doubt they ever take it all the way to the ground as it does not fit the training profile.

    Kirby

    Ps. Is there a map posted of the proposed airspace modifications I couldn't find one?
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

  10. #10
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Kirby,

    They tried to run it through as an EA, and it didn't fly. The impacts are more extensive than they let on, which is why the full EIS.

    Also, in an EIS process ANY input suggesting adverse effects must be addressed. You may be correct that this is a done deal, but that was said about the Idaho proposal a number of years back as well. Nothing is a done deal till it's over.

    Remember, this is the EIS. Once they complete the EIS process, they STILL have to sell this program to the FAA on its merits, from a purely aviation perspective. Again, feedback and concerns, including "Don't go any lower in future" help provide the FAA with guidance, and they DO listen. And, your feedback MUST come in this process, NOT once the process goes to the FAA for consideration.

    And, if you don't believe they'll come back with a request for lower, you probably don't understand that the name UAV was changed to UAS for a very good reason. There are guys out there right NOW operating relatively small UAVs in the airspace system, but "flying under the radar" so to speak. Many of these small systems can't operate at 6000 feet or greater. They will be back, I'm betting, and UND is going to be proposing all sorts of diverse UAS's.

    MTV

  11. #11

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    Mike,

    I haven't had time to read all of the DRAFT EIS yet but with the ice storm breathing down my neck it looks like I will. I have a couple of NEPA documents going now so this has got me curious...

    Actually they don't have to react to every comment, just address them, but if several hit the same area it really helps. My suggestion would be to focus on the Safety impacts as that is the best area for describing local impact and you might be able to force a hard deck in the EIS especially if they did not fully address the local flight access and the potential impact on emergency services with their comments of"

    "During emergency, fire, and other special conditions as described in the airspace analysis, the Air Force would immediately respond to ATC direction and relocate the RPA from the emergency-needed airspace."

    With the cost of doing a NEPA document, especially a full EIS, I would imagine they have already worked a draft memorandum of understanding through the FAA.

    Do you know if the Corps of Engineers contracted out the NEPA evaluation or are they doing it inhouse? Also, did the Corps nix the EA or did thay actually publish a finding of no adverse impact?

    I'll let you know if I see anything else...

    Kirby

    Ps. found the maps
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

  12. #12
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Kirby,

    It's not a Corps project, it's USAForce, Headquarters, Air Mobility Command project.

    Unless things have changed dramatically since my involvement with the eastern Alaska deal, the FAA won't even TALK to them, let alone work out an MOU, until the EIS is signed, sealed and delivered. This was one of our beefs with that deal in AK: the FAA sat in on EVERY meeting throughout the EIS process, but wouldn't provide ANY input until the EIS process was complete. Didn't want to "bias" the process.....

    And for anyone who thinks a floor of 6,000 feet on restricted airspace is probably okay, take a look at these:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...rce=feedburner

    Think those UH-60 UAV's are going to fly around at 6,000??

    And: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php...=4479444&s=AIR

    This stuff is coming, folks, and unless you want our airspace to look like Russian airspace, where there are very narrow corridors where civil aircraft are permitted to fly, and huge areas of military airspace, it might be well to comment on these proposals.

    I have the utmost respect for our military, and its need to train. My problem is that I've seen these processes go forward, and get larger, and more exclusive.

    This one's just the camel's nose under the tent flap.

    MTV

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion
    Kirby,

    It's not a Corps project, it's USAForce, Headquarters, Air Mobility Command project.

    Unless things have changed dramatically since my involvement with the eastern Alaska deal, the FAA won't even TALK to them, let alone work out an MOU, until the EIS is signed, sealed and delivered. This was one of our beefs with that deal in AK: the FAA sat in on EVERY meeting throughout the EIS process, but wouldn't provide ANY input until the EIS process was complete. Didn't want to "bias" the process.....

    And for anyone who thinks a floor of 6,000 feet on restricted airspace is probably okay, take a look at these:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...rce=feedburner

    Think those UH-60 UAV's are going to fly around at 6,000??

    And: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php...=4479444&s=AIR

    This stuff is coming, folks, and unless you want our airspace to look like Russian airspace, where there are very narrow corridors where civil aircraft are permitted to fly, and huge areas of military airspace, it might be well to comment on these proposals.

    I have the utmost respect for our military, and its need to train. My problem is that I've seen these processes go forward, and get larger, and more exclusive.

    This one's just the camel's nose under the tent flap.

    MTV
    Mike,

    I relaize the Air Force projecty however the reviewing/permitting agency under NEPA is typically the CORPS? Not sure if the Airforce has NEPA permit authorization but will look.

    I've read most of it, studied the maps and unfortunately I think your best approach is comments on adverse local impact... ie. The number of non-VFR days and such and look to minimize the impact areas and raise the floor by stating (and backing up) that they are taking more than they need...

    Keep us informed!

    Kirby
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

  14. #14
    180Marty's Avatar
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    [quote]Obama Administration's Budget Calls for Billions of Dollars in New Spending for Drones
    Jason Leopold, Truthout: "This is how major US defense contractors reacted to the Obama administration's unveiling of its fiscal year 2011 spending plan for the Pentagon, part of the president's overall $3.8 trillion budget proposal.
    Shares of General Dynamics, a maker of military aircraft, submarines and munitions, rose 3.9 percent and closed at $69.43 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the uptick due in large part to additional spending on the war in Afghanistan, according to Sanford Bernstein, a financial research firm.

    Northrop Grumman Corp., which builds unmanned spy planes and ships, rose 2.3 percent to close at $57.92. Boeing Co., a manufacturer of aircraft carriers, shares increased by 1.8 and closed at $61.70. Lockheed Martin's shares rose 37 cents to close at $74.89. Raytheon Co., a missile supplier, was up by a percentage point to close at $52.96, while shares of L-3 Communications Holdings, a firm that supplies intelligence gathering and monitoring equipment, was up 1.6 percent to close at $84.64. And shares of Harris Corp soared 4.2 percent to close at $44.74. Harris manufactures tactical radios utilizes encryption technology.

    All in all, it was a good day for the military-industrial complex.

  15. #15
    180Marty's Avatar
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    Just saw on the news a U.S. general in Afghanistan apologizing for another missile strike that killed two dozen civilians. Probably launched by a drone operated by someone who doesn't have a clue what the target really is.

  16. #16
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Marty,

    I'd argue with that. Remember that the UAVs' gather intelligence. That intel is then analyzed, and after an agonizingly long review period, the UAV operator MAY be authorized to attack.

    In other words, it isn't the UAV operator who is doing the analyses, and they don't have the authority to attack ANYTHING without permission from above.

    I've been told by a friend who flies the things that he's been VERY frustrated time and time again, to watch obvious bad guys escape while the generals and politicians agonize over whether or not they should zap him.

    Shades of Viet Nam all over, where the Secretary of State and President were actually making decisions on targeting....

    I thought we'd learned a few things from Viet Nam. Apparently not.

    I really feel for the Marines now engaged in southern Afghanistan, with all the ROE BS they're having to tolerate.

    MTV

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    Quote of the week

    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion
    Marty,

    I'd argue with that....
    MTV
    and everything else too
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

  18. #18
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Kirby,

    Frankly, I think you're right in your latest comment on how to react to this proposal. Doesn't THAT piss ya off??

    My point in response to Marty's comment was simply that one needs to talk to one of the Predator operators to get their perspective on how that program functions prior to laying blame at the feet of the UAV operator.

    It's a complex process they go through, and I have a lot of respect for what they do.

    The fellow I was referring to was a Marine F-18 pilot, switched to the Air Guard, flew F-16, and is now a Predator pilot. I've heard a talk he gave on how they work, and it's a really interesting, and heavily "moderated" process.

    I realize these guys need an area to train. My biggest fear over this one is that it will expand, and perhaps massively. Unfortunately, that's not a basis to object to the existing proposal.

    I'll disagree with you next time, though, if that's okay...

    MTV

  19. #19
    aktango58's Avatar
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    I get that the military needs a place to train,

    but for christ sake, it is all but treason to fly anywhere near a border now, our military bugdet is going to be reduced it appears

    We are paying a bunch of guys to protect the southern border...

    Why don't they use existing areas, or just use these things to patrol the border for practice. Plenty of targets there also.

    I fogot, the govt. wants GA gone.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  20. #20

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    Mike, you made my day!

    Kirby
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

  21. #21
    WWhunter's Avatar
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    I know this is an older post but I figured I would post this link for those that may want a little more info on this subject and the DOD's need for this additional airspace.

    http://www.defensesystems.com/Articl..._050410&Page=1

    WW

  22. #22
    jr.hammack's Avatar
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    wouldn't be surprized if it's not the same as a german a.f. bombing range project in n.m.,was involved in both,lots of time and effort only to find our own representatives had committed the area long before it got rubber stamped and approved!!!
    money talks and B.S. walks!!!!

    jr.

  23. #23
    mvivion's Avatar
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    What a crock of BS that article is.

    First...consider that we can LEGALLY train a pilot to fly a revenue trip in a Boeing 777 or an Airbus in a simulator, and the pilot may have never actually TOUCHED a real 777 or Airbus prior to their first flight in the airplane.

    So, the military can't figure out how to develop flight simulators for UAV's???? Give me a break.

    Sorry, but the military just wants more airspace. And, they figure since they've got the "war on terrorism" on their side now, they can ram whatever they want down our throats.

    General Aviation AND Commercial aviation will both suffer if these gold laden office pogues get their way. We will be well on our way to Russian style airspace, where the only place you're allowed to fly is on airways between navaids. The rest of that country is military airspace.

    So, we can trust the paying public to fly with people trained in simulators, but we can't train UAV operators who were trained in simulators???

    And, I would also point out that they've got all of Iraq and Afghanistan airspace to practice in. Let them get some actual work done while they're training.

    MTV

  24. #24
    WWhunter's Avatar
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    Mike,
    That is exactly why I posted the link...I was pretty pi$$ed when I read it. Just got back from a several months stay in the DC area. Those friggin people over there do NOT have a clue of what is going on in the rest of the country. Seems the the majority of the people that are there work for the gov'ment and all they see is more control and finding more ways for them to make money.
    Did you read any of the comments? One of them stated the fact of all the airspace they already have that is underutilized in Nevada and other areas in the sparsley populated western states. With better planning with the areas they already have they wouldn't need any more area. When I lived in AZ, I saw all the airspace that would be listed 'active' for days on end and during these times NOTHING was happening. They would schedule a firing or exercise and then have a setback but never release the area.
    OK, I'll get off my soapbox.
    WW

  25. #25
    mvivion's Avatar
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    The AF NEVER gives up airspace, even if they don't use it at all. Frankly, the FAA needs to start monitoring the military's use (or non use) of airspace, and start removing some of those MOAs and possibly Restricted areas.

    During the debates in Alaska on the eastern Alaska MOA complex, we asked the AF if they'd consider giving up the Galena MOAs as part of an exchange for all that new airspace. NO WAY!!! We NEED that airspace. At the time, they hadn't actually activated it for almost a year, and they don't sit alert in Galena any more, so....

    Shortly thereafter, they activated the airspace for a day or two, probably to make sure there was some use shown.

    The only way they'll give up airspace is if Congress forced them to. And, that isn't going to happen.

    MTV

  26. #26
    gbflyer's Avatar
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    I've thought about this all day and you guys are really bringing me down. I was hoping this UAV thing was going to be a positive for GA, what with all the piston UAV's they use...maybe some new engine and gasoline technology, etc. I never thought about them gobbling up more airspace in the process. Bummer.

    gb

  27. #27
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    Can't understand why they'd need a 'restricted' airspace for these... They fly plenty of other UAV's in MOA's and General airspace in NM and AZ without issue.

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