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Rules and Regulations
Vol. 77, No. 119Wednesday, June 20, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATIONFederal Aviation Administration14 CFR Part 73
[Docket No. FAA–2011–0117; AirspaceDocket No. 09–AGL–31]
Establishment of Restricted AreasR–5402, R–5403A, R–5403B, R–5403C,R–5403D, R–5403E, and R–5403F;Devils Lake, ND
Federal AviationAdministration (FAA), DOT.
This action establishesrestricted area airspace within theDevils Lake Military Operations Area(MOA), overlying Camp Grafton Range,in the vicinity of Devils Lake, ND. Thenew restricted areas permit realistictraining in modern tactics to beconducted at Camp Grafton Range whileensuring the safe and efficient use of theNational Airspace System (NAS) in theDevils Lake, ND, area. Unlike restrictedareas which are designated under Title14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR)part 73, MOAs are not regulatoryairspace. However, since the restrictedareas overlap the Devils Lake East MOA,the FAA is including a description of the Devils Lake East MOA change inthis rule. The MOA change describedherein will be published in the NationalFlight Data Digest (NFDD).
Effective date0901 UTC, July 26, 2012.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Colby Abbott, Airspace, Regulations andATC Procedures Group, Office of Airspace Services, Federal AviationAdministration, 800 IndependenceAvenue SW., Washington, DC 20591;telephone: (202) 267–8783.
On November 28, 2011, the FAApublished in the
anotice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)to establish Restricted Areas R–5402,R–5403A, R–5403B, R–5403C, R–5403D,R–5403E, and R–5403F in the vicinity of Devils Lake, ND (76 FR 72869).Interested parties were invited toparticipate in this rulemaking effort bysubmitting written comments on theproposal. In response to public request,the FAA extended the comment periodfor 30 additional days (77 FR 1656; January 11, 2012). There were 43comments received in response to theNPRM with 42 opposing various aspectsof the proposal and one commentsupporting the proposal as published.All comments received were considered before making a determination on thisfinal rule. The following is a discussionof the substantive comments receivedand the agency’s response.
Discussion of Comments
One commenter contended that the500 feet above ground level (AGL) basefor R–5402 would impact low level,aerial operations such as crop dusters,wildlife and agricultural surveys, andemergency medical access. The FAArecognizes that when active, R–5402would restrict nonparticipating aircraftfrom operating within its boundaries. Tomitigate impacts to the aviationactivities described above, the UnitedStates Air Force (USAF) has agreed toimplement scheduling coordinationmeasures to de-conflict laser operationsand accommodate access by localfarming, ranching, survey, and medicalaviation interests when they need to flyin or through R–5402, when it is active.Another commenter noted that VFRtraffic would have to circumnavigateactive restricted airspace resulting inincreased time and distances flown. TheFAA acknowledges restricted areaairspace segregates nonparticipatingaircraft from hazardous activitiesoccurring inside the restricted area andthat, on occasion, nonparticipatingaircraft affected by the restricted areawill have to deviate from preferredroutings to remain clear. The lateral boundaries and altitudes of therestricted area complex were defined tominimize impacts to nonparticipantaircraft, yet still support the military inaccomplishing its training mission. Thesubdivided configuration of therestricted area complex, the altitudestratifications, and the entire restrictedarea complex designated as ‘‘joint use,’’affords nonparticipant aircraft access tothe portions of restricted area airspacenot in use by the military to the greatestextent possible.One commenter expressed concernthat segregating airspace for new typesof aircraft sets a dangerous precedent.The FAA agrees and maintains itspolicy to establish restricted areaairspace when determined necessary toconfine or segregate activitiesconsidered hazardous tononparticipating aircraft. The FAAconsiders UAS operations to be non-hazardous. However, the FAArecognizes that some UAS platformshave the ability to employ hazardousordnance or sensors. Since the MQ–1Predator [UAS] laser is non-eye safe andwill be used during training sortiesflown by the military, its use constitutesa hazardous activity that must beconfined within restricted area airspaceto protect nonparticipating aircraft.Two commenters suggested thatSpecial Use Airspace (SUA) should beceded back to civil control when not inuse. The FAA proposed that therestricted areas be designated as ‘‘jointuse’’ airspace, specifically to afford thehighest level of access to NAS users andlimit this access only when necessary.This rule provides that when therestricted areas are not needed by theusing agency, the airspace will bereturned to the controlling agency,Minneapolis Air Route Traffic ControlCenter, for access by other NAS users.Another commenter recommendedthat the proposed restricted areaairspace be developed for concurrentuse. The FAA considered thecommenters use of ‘‘concurrent use’’ tomean ‘‘sharing the same airspace, at thesame time, between participating andnonparticipating aircraft.’’ As notedpreviously, restricted areas areestablished to confine or segregateactivities considered hazardous tononparticipating aircraft; such asdropping bombs, firing guns/missiles/rockets, or lasing with a non-eye safelaser. Concurrent use, as describedabove, would not be prudent in such anenvironment as it constitutes anunacceptable risk to nonparticipatingaircraft.Twenty-two commenters stated thatthe proposed restricted areas should
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