Coming to the cockpit: Real-time special-use airspace updates

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Led by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the top republican on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, a provision in the act was included that requires the FAA and the Department of Defense to establish an automated real-time broadcast, similar to temporary flight restriction dissemination, on the real-time status of MOAs and restricted areas. The NDAA, an annual bill, was passed in both the House and Senate by overriding President Donald Trump’s veto, marking 60 consecutive years that it has become law.

The goal to improve operational safety and efficiency by transmitting, directly into the cockpit, the real-time status of military training and other SUA will result in enormous savings and environmental benefits for operators of private, commercial, and military aircraft.

“As a pilot, myself, I know how important up-to-date and real-time communication is when you are flying,” Inhofe said. “This is crucial information for all pilots—military, commercial and recreational. I am proud we were able to include a provision in the NDAA that will provide, in real-time, information related to the status of special use airspace. I am proud to ensure the training needs of our military pilots while giving recreational pilots the opportunity to more safely and efficiently use our national airspace. I appreciate Mark Baker and AOPA for their strong advocacy on this issue for general aviation pilots.”

“I was happy to help secure this win for the general aviation community in the NDAA, which will address concerns with SUA restrictions and their impacts on pilots,” Graves said.  “An especially important piece of this measure is a Department of Defense reporting requirement which will give us a better understanding of the SUA utilization data it provides to the FAA, which is often incomplete and submitted late. This data is critical to the FAA’s ability to provide useful information to general aviation operators on SUA restrictions in real time. Ultimately, this provision will enhance the efficiency and safety of military training operations, commercial operations, and general aviation operations, alike.”

A MITRE Corp. report, developed in 2012, documented the potential benefits of such a system. According to the report, “Overall, approximate annual good-weather flight path savings in the National Airspace System (NAS) include fuel savings of $100 million dollars, distance savings of 30 million nautical miles, flight time savings of

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