AOPA recently met with Luke Air Force Base officials to express concerns about a special flight rules area (SFRA) that is being considered for training operations near Phoenix. A SFRA would establish an area in which a clearance would be required to enter, further complicating communications in Phoenix Class B airspace.
"AOPA is disappointed that Luke officials have not fully explored all non-rulemaking options and are considering a rule that would significantly hamper general aviation," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic policy. "After meeting with Luke Air Force Base representatives, AOPA has recommended several non-rulemaking alternatives that would protect GA and Luke pilots while keeping the airspace open."
One of the most effective ways to protect military and civilian aircraft in that area is air traffic control coordination, AOPA said.
"Making sure pilots are aware of Luke's operations, either by a note on the automatic terminal information service, or by direct contact, would ensure that all pilots in the area know to avoid Luke's traffic pattern," Williams said.
AOPA asked the officials to expand their effort to educate the local GA community on their current procedures and to work with nearby flight schools to coordinate practice areas.
Providing more information on sectional charts about Luke's Alert Area A-321 to include times of heaviest training operations and contact information could greatly reduce the hazard between Luke aircraft and transient GA aircraft.
AOPA also recommended sending a letter to airmen that details the base's training operations.
"There's no question the near-midair number will go down significantly with proper education and coordinated outreach to local pilots and ATC," Williams said. "AOPA looks forward to being involved in those non-rulemaking opportunities."