Air Force May Open More Airspace To GA

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The FAA said this week it is working with the U.S. Air Force to find ways to allow civilian flights to regularly use airspace that is normally reserved for the military. The effort would help to relieve delays on commercial and general aviation flights when thunderstorms, traffic, or other constraints limit the number of planes that can pass through commercial airspace, the FAA said. Over the last year, the Department of Defense has already let the FAA use portions of special use airspace during a few high-traffic times, such as last Thanksgiving. "Express lanes" allowed commercial flights to transit military airspace in busy regions across the country.

The FAA said it is now working to develop a more permanent way to use this airspace. One possibility under consideration would be to expand the airspace made available to the Air Force but then subdivide it into boxes. The Air Force then could shift its operations into boxes of airspace the FAA doesn't need, and let civilian traffic fly through the boxes that allow for the most efficient movement of airplanes. Currently the Air Force is the only military participant in the program, though the other branches of the military may participate if the effort proves successful, the FAA said.