Negotiations underway to increase airspace

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FAA and the U.S. Air Force are trying to find ways for more civilian flights to use airspace now off limits because of military operations.

This has been done in the past and the two are now trying to agree on ways to make it permanent.

It is hoped a permanent agreement could alleviate some of the delays civilian flights have when thunderstorms, a large number of flights, or other constraints affect the number of flights that can move in designated airspace. FAA officials noted this worked well last Thanksgiving when “express lanes” were created in military-controlled airspace for commercial flights.

One of the ideas now under consideration is to expand the airspace for the Air Force but to divide it into boxes. When weather or traffic conditions indicate a need for more civilian airspace, the Air Force could shift its operation into the boxes not needed by the FAA.

At present, the Air Force is the only military participant in the program. Other arms of the military have their airspace and could be included in any final agreement.

Whatever plan the FAA and Department of Defense finally agree on, pilots will need to carefully check open airspace if flying VFR.

Charles Spence is GAN’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.


  1. Terry K says

    I think this would also be a great idea for GA aircraft as well. In flying from the southern California area to the Las Vegas area, there is a narrow bottleneck near the Daggett & Hector VORs because of restricted areas. There are times when severe weather develops and prevents aircraft from passing through the bottleneck, but detouring just a few miles north or south (into the restricted areas), would provide for a means of staying clear of the severe weather.

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