Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Isakson, Chambliss Express Concern over Proposed Expansion of Bulldog Military Operating Area in East-Central Georgia

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss,R-Ga., today sent a letter to Michael Donley, Secretary of the AirForce, and Bobby Sturgell, Acting Administrator of the Federal AviationAdministration, expressing their concern over the proposed expansion ofthe Bulldog Military Operating Area in East-Central Georgia and thenegative impact it could have on operations at civilian airports in thatregion.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Donley and Administrator Sturgell:

Today our staffs met to discuss the proposed expansion of the BulldogMilitary Operating Area (MOA) over East-Central Georgia. We hadpreviously written to you regarding this issue, and appreciate youmaking your staffs available to meet.

We strongly support the ability of the Air Force to conduct necessarytraining and operations in support of its readiness and our nation'ssecurity, and recognize the requirement it has. We remain concerned,however, about the potential impact the proposed expansion as outlinedin the letter we received from Colonel Miller on March 10, 2008 may haveon operations at civilian airports in Emanuel County, Georgia, andMillen, Georgia.

Specifically, the community is concerned that the proposed expansion maynegatively affect arrivals and departures flights into the Swainsboro /Emanuel County airport and that the recent upgrades to the InstrumentLanding System (ILS) at the airport may be negated by the proposedexpansion. Swainsboro is also concerned about communications issues anddelays as they relate to instrument arrival and departure clearances atthe airport. Both communities are concerned about MOA usagenotifications between the Wing and the airports, and the steps forwardwith regards to the MOA should traffic at these airports increase andnecessitate new airspace needs.

We appreciate the reassurances by your staffs that they will take these,and other concerns raised at tomorrow's public meeting, intoconsideration and that both the Air Force and FAA will work to mitigatethese concerns before implementing changes to the MOA. We hope that theAir Force and the Federal Aviation Administration can agree on aproposal and a process of closing the MOA to accommodate arrivals anddepartures into these airports so as not to negatively affect existingor dissuade future commercial air traffic and economic development, andwe stand ready to assist you in any way possible in this regard.

We appreciate you keeping us fully informed as this issue develops, andwe intend to carefully follow this issue to ensure that out nationalsecurity needs are met without negatively impacting operations at local,civilian airports in Georgia.

Very truly yours,
Saxby Chambliss
United States Senator
Johnny Isakson
United States Senator

The community will have an opportunity to engage the Air Force and theFAA and share their comments at a public meeting on October 23, 2008.Isakson and Chambliss encourage all interested residents to attend themeeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Augusta Regional Airport,Large Conference Room, 1501 Aviation Way, Augusta, Ga.

The FAA and the Air Force have extended the public comment period toNovember 24, 2008, and have pledged to Isakson and Chambliss that theywill look at ways to mitigate the existing concerns of the community.

State Senator Jack Hill, State Representative Butch Parrish and otherelected officials as well as Bill Rogers and the Swainsboro/EmanuelCounty Chamber of Commerce have worked with Isakson and Chambliss onthis important effort.
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