The U.S. Department of Defense will propose the establishment of eight restricted airspace areas in or around Tinian, “to be activated independently, in multiple segments, or in total—depending on where and what type of military activity” is occurring, according to Pacific Air Forces Brig. Gen. Steven Basham.
Right now, Defense is working with the Federal Aviation Administration on its plan for this airspace to support joint military training on Tinian. On top of that, they aim to work with Commonwealth Ports Authority in approving an airport layout plan, or ALP, inclusive of military activity and infrastructure on CPA property.
Basham told Saipan Tribune that the establishment and operation of special use airspace, or SUA, by the military and FAA is “common practice.”
“[It] is done in order to separate military activity from civilian activity,” he said.
He said this SUA will support training for all military services, and is being proposed as part of the U.S. Pacific Command’s CNMI Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement, a draft of which is due in April.
“The Marine Corps has worked closely with both CNMI officials and the FAA over the past year through the ad-hoc meetings to get to this point and pledges to continue to work with all parties as we move forward,” he said.
Asked to clarify their working relationship with the FAA, he described the FAA as a “cooperating agency” on military environmental documents, “whenever [U.S. military] action includes proposals for SUA or proposed modifications to ALPs.”
“This is primarily done to ensure DoD’s environmental document meets FAA’s environmental requirements for federal action,” he said.
He said as part of the proposal process, FAA and Defense conduct informal meetings to brief, discuss, and review the military’s proposed SUA and ALP actions.
The SUA will be processed through the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization and the ALP is processed through its Airports Division.
Basham said the FAA and DoD have established a working group to facilitate processing both the Tinian SUA and the ALP. They have also invited the Commonwealth Ports Authority to be a part of this working group,
“Several meetings have already taken place and we anticipate additional meetings will occur as we collectively work through the SUA and ALP processing,” he said.