Expansion of R-3803 Restricted Area Complex; Fort Polk, LA

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 136 (Tuesday, July 16, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 136 (Tuesday, July 16, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 33845-33848]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-15119]
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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 73
[Docket No. FAA-2018-0984; Airspace Docket No. 18-ASW-8]
RIN 2120-AA66
Expansion of R-3803 Restricted Area Complex; Fort Polk, LA
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
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SUMMARY: This action expands the R-3803 restricted area complex in
central Louisiana by establishing four new restricted areas, R-3803C,
R-3803D, R-3803E, and R-3803F, and makes minor technical amendments to
the existing R-3803A and R-3803B legal descriptions for improved
operational efficiency and administrative standardization. The
restricted area establishments and amendments support U.S. Army Joint
Readiness Training Center training requirements at Fort Polk for
military units preparing for overseas deployment.
DATES: Effective date: 0901 UTC, September 13, 2019.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colby Abbott, Airspace Policy Group,
Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation Administration, 800
Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-
8783.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Authority for This Rulemaking
    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is
found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106
describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII,
Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's
authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described
in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section,
the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of
the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the
efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that
authority as it establishes restricted area airspace at Fort Polk, LA,
to enhance aviation safety and accommodate essential U.S. Army
hazardous force-on-force and force-on-target training activities.
History
    The FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking for Docket No.
FAA-2018-0984 in the Federal Register (83 FR 60382; November 26, 2018)
establishing four new restricted areas, R-3803C, R-3803D, R-3803E, and
R-3803F, and making minor technical amendments to the R-3803A and R-
3803B descriptions for improved operational efficiency and
administrative standardization in support of hazardous U.S. Army force-
on-force and force-on-target training activities. Interested parties
were invited to participate in this rulemaking effort by submitting
written comments on the proposal. Two comments were received.
Discussion of Comments
    While supportive of the U.S. Army's need to train as they fight,
the first commenter noted that modern general aviation aircraft have
longer flight endurance today, making timely NOTAM publication of
restricted area activations necessary for effective flight planning. To
overcome the possibility of the restricted areas being activated with
no advance notification, the commenter recommended adding ``at least 4
hours in advance'' to the ``By NOTAM'' time of designation proposed for
the R-3803A, R-3803C, and R-3803D restricted areas. Additionally, the
commenter requested the effective date of the proposed restricted
areas, if approved, coincide with the next update of the Houston
Sectional Aeronautical Chart.
    It is FAA policy that when NOTAMs are issued to activate special
use airspace, the NOTAMs should be issued as far in advance as feasible
to ensure the widest dissemination of the information to airspace
users. The FAA acknowledges that the addition of the ``at least 4 hours
in advance'' provision to the proposed ``By NOTAM'' time of
designation, as recommended by the commenter, would contribute to
ensuring the widest dissemination of the restricted areas being
activated to effected airspace users. As such, the FAA adopts the
commenter's recommendation to amend the time of designation for R-
3803A, R-3803C, and R-3803D to reflect ``By NOTAM issued at least 4
hours in advance.''
    Additionally, the establishment of R-3803C, R-3803D, R-3803E, and
R-3803F, and the minor technical amendments to the existing R-3803A and
R-3803B legal descriptions are being made effective to coincide with
the upcoming Houston Sectional Aeronautical Chart date.
    The second commenter raised aerial access concerns of the area in
which the new restricted areas were proposed to be established. The
commenter stated
[[Page 33846]]
restriction of the airspace would require many commercial forestry
activities on private lands, traditionally accomplished through aerial
application, to be done via ground application which would have a
detrimental effect on a purported endangered Pine Snake habitat and
render land owners unable to exercise their ownership or conduct timber
management with traditional, cost effective methods. The commenter
added that without aerial surveillance and fire suppression flights,
timber and economic losses to fire, insect, and disease would increase.
The commenter also argued that closure of the restricted area airspace
would have an economic impact on Central and Southwest Louisiana by
limiting commercial air traffic into Alexandria International Airport,
LA.
    The FAA considered the commenter's concerns and has determined
aerial access to the private properties underlying the new restricted
areas is unaffected by the establishment of the restricted areas. When
the new restricted areas are active, aerial access to the underlying
privately owned properties is provided by a 1,200-foot above ground
level (AGL) exclusion area incorporated within restricted area R-3803D.
The FAA believes this 1,200-foot AGL exclusion is adequate for non-
participating aviation to perform commercial forestry activities,
wildfire surveillance and suppression flights, and insect infestation
detection and aerial spraying on the private lands noted by the
commenters. This continued aerial access also mitigates the commenter's
concerns associated with a detrimental effect on an endangered Pine
Snake habitat, as well as land owners' abilities to exercise their land
ownership or timber management actions with traditional, cost effective
methods.
    The remaining land that underlies restricted areas R-3803C and R-
3803D is owned by the U.S. Army. Aerial access to that land, when the
restricted areas are active, will be provided using the same processes
and procedures that are in place today for accessing the land under the
existing R-3803A.
    Lastly, as part of the aeronautical study conducted by Houston Air
Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), the FAA analyzed the impact to
commercial air traffic into Alexandria International Airport, LA, as
noted by the commenter. Houston ARTCC acknowledged instrument arrival
and departure procedures into the Houston Terminal Area and Alexandria
International Airport would be impacted slightly. However, the
altitudes and times of use for the restricted areas will greatly
mitigate any impact on these procedures. Additionally, the procedures
are seldom used and if required the aircraft can be positively
controlled away from the procedural routings, so the impact to these
areas will be negligible. Houston ARTCC ultimately recommended approval
and deemed the establishment of the four new restricted areas would not
have an adverse impact on the commercial air traffic into Alexandria
International Airport.
Military Operations Areas (MOA)
    In the NPRM, the FAA acknowledged that the proposed R-3803C and R-
3803D restricted areas, if established, would be designated within the
existing Warrior 1 Low and Warrior 1 High Military Operations Areas
(MOAs). To address potential airspace issues and confusion created if
all special use airspace (SUA) areas were active at the same time, the
FAA stated it would amend the legal descriptions of both MOAs to
exclude that airspace within R-3803C and R-3803D when the restricted
areas were activated.
    MOAs are established to separate or segregate non-hazardous
military flight activities from aircraft operating in accordance with
instrument flight rules (IFR) and to advise pilots flying under visual
flight rules (VFR) where these activities are conducted. IFR aircraft
may be routed through an active MOA only by agreement with the using
agency and only when air traffic control can provide approved
separation from the MOA activity. VFR pilots are not restricted from
flying in an active MOA but are advised to exercise caution while doing
so. MOAs are nonregulatory airspace areas that are established or
amended administratively and published in the National Flight Data
Digest (NFDD) rather than through rulemaking procedures. When a
nonrulemaking action is ancillary to a rulemaking action, FAA
procedures allow for the nonrulemaking changes to be included in the
rulemaking action. Since amendments to the Warrior 1 Low and Warrior 1
High MOAs descriptions are ancillary to the establishment of R-3803C
and R-3803D, the MOA changes are addressed in this rule as well as
being published in the NFDD.
    The FAA circularized a proposal to make editorial amendments to the
Warrior 1 Low and Warrior 1 High MOAs boundary descriptions, contingent
upon R-3803C and R-3803D being established, to add language that
excluded that airspace within R-3803C and R-3803D when the restricted
areas were activated. Interested parties were invited to participate in
this proposed nonrulemaking action by submitting written comments on
the proposal. Two comments were received.
    Both commenters raised the same concerns over restrictions to
aerial access for forest landowners, loggers, and forest industry
stakeholders. Specifically, the commenters argued the proposed MOA
amendments restricted the ability to aerially detect wildfires, inspect
for insect infestations, and treat forest lands with chemicals and
fertilizers in the impact area. They contended the added costs of
conducting forest management practices from only the ground would add
substantial costs to their operations and be less effective, and that
the economic loss caused by the MOA proposal to forestry, loggers, and
the forest industry as well as revenue to the local and state economy
would be considerable.
    In response, the FAA offers that the external boundaries,
altitudes, times of use, or activities to be conducted within the
Warrior MOA complex remain the same with the inclusion of the proposed
restricted area exclusion language amendments. Aerial access for forest
landowners, loggers, and forest industry stakeholders within the
amended MOAs would be unchanged when the new restricted areas are not
activated. When the new restricted areas are activated, aerial access
to the private properties would be provided by the 1,200-foot AGL
exclusion area within R-3803D and support the continued aviation
activities described by the commenters. For aerial access to the U.S.
Army owned property underlying R-3803C and the portion of R-3803D that
extends upward from the surface, it will be provided using the same
processes and procedures that are in place today for nonparticipant
aircraft to access the existing R-3803A. Since aerial access to the
private and U.S. Army owned lands falling under the amended MOAs, R-
3803C, and R-3803D will continue to be available for forest landowners,
loggers, and forest industry stakeholders, the aerial forest management
practices noted by the commenters will not be impacted and the economic
loss or revenue impact concerns noted by the commenters mitigated.
    As a result, the Warrior 1 Low and Warrior 1 High MOAs boundary
descriptions are being amended to include language that excludes that
airspace within R-3803C and R-3803D when the restricted areas are
activated. These editorial amendments overcome any potential airspace
confusion or conflict resulting from the overlapping restricted areas
and MOAs being activated at the same time. Additionally,
[[Page 33847]]
the amendments help inform nonparticipants when portions of the MOAs
are not available due to hazardous activities being conducted in the
overlapping restricted areas. The amended boundary descriptions for the
MOAs will be published in the NFDD; the rest of the MOAs legal
descriptions remain unchanged.
The Rule
    This action amends Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR)
part 73 by establishing four new restricted areas, R-3803C, R-3803D, R-
3803E, and R-3803F, located south-southeast of the existing R-3803A and
R-3803B restricted areas, supporting the Joint Readiness Training
Center at Fort Polk, LA. The new restricted areas will support the U.S.
Army conducting realistic force-on-force and force-on-target training
employing longer-range surface-to-surface and air-to-surface munitions.
    Of the new restricted areas, R-3803C and R-3803D will extend upward
from the surface to but not including FL 180. Stacked above R-3803C, R-
3803E will be established extending upward from FL 180 to but not
including FL 350. Similarly, stacked above R-3803D, R-3803F will be
established extending upward from FL 180 to but not including FL 350.
The boundaries of the R-3803C and R-3803E restricted areas will match,
as will the boundaries of the R-3803D and R-3803F restricted areas.
However, there is an airspace cutout included in the R-3803D boundary
description, extending upward from the surface to 1,200 feet AGL, to
allow aerial access to the private land under the restricted area that
the Army does not own or control.
    Restricted areas R-3803C and R-3803D will be activated by NOTAM
issued at least 4 hours in advance, with an anticipated usage of 18
hours per day approximately 320 days per year. The higher strata
restricted areas, R-3803E and R-3803F, will be activated by NOTAM
issued at least 24 hours in advance, with an anticipated usage of 8
hours per day approximately 20 days per year.
    Lastly, a number of minor editorial and technical amendments to the
existing R-3803A and R-3803B restricted area legal descriptions are
being made. They include:
     The designated altitudes for R-3803A is changed from
``Surface to FL 180'' to ``Surface to but not including FL 180.''
     The designated altitudes for R-3803B is changed from ``FL
180 up to but not including FL 350'' to ``FL 180 to but not including
FL 350.'' This amendment was noted in the NPRM preamble to match the
designated altitudes of the upper proposed restricted areas, listed as
R-3803C and R-3803D in error. The correct upper proposed restricted
areas that should have been listed are R-3803E and R-3803F. The
regulatory text in the NPRM for the R-3803B, R-3803E, and R-3803F
designated altitudes all matched with the correct proposed amendment
information.
     The time of designation for R-3803A is changed from
``Continuous'' to ``By NOTAM issued at least 4 hours in advance.''
     The time of designation for R-3803B is changed from ``As
activated by NOTAM issued at least 24 hours in advance'' to ``By NOTAM
issued at least 24 hours in advance.''
     The using agency for R-3803A and R-3803B is changed from
``Commanding General, Fort Polk, LA'' to ``U.S. Army, Joint Readiness
Training Center, Fort Polk, LA.''
    The new restricted areas R-3803C and R-3803D are designated within
the existing Warrior 1 Low and Warrior 1 High Military Operations Areas
(MOAs). To address potential airspace issues and confusion created when
the restricted areas and MOAs are active at the same time, the FAA is
taking action to amend both MOA legal descriptions to exclude that
airspace within R-3803C and R-3803D when the restricted areas are
activated.
Regulatory Notices and Analyses
    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an
established body of technical regulations for which frequent and
routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current.
It, therefore: (1) Is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under
Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a ``significant rule'' under
Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulatory Policies and Procedures
(44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation
of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal.
Since this is a routine matter that will only affect air traffic
procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when
promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a
substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the
Regulatory Flexibility Act.
Environmental Review
    The FAA has determined that this action of establishing four
restricted areas, R-3803C, R-3803D, R-3803E, and R-3803F, located south
southeast of the R-3803 restricted area complex at Fort Polk, LA,
qualifies for FAA adoption in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F,
paragraph 8-2, Adoption of Other Agencies' National Environmental
Policy Act Documents, and FAA Order 7400.2M, paragraph 32-2-3 (Special
Use Airspace). After conducting an independent review and evaluation of
the U.S. Army's Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana,
Final Environmental Assessment for the Expansion Of Restricted Area
Complex Airspace R-3803 (March 2019) and Finding Of No Significant
Impact, the FAA has determined that the Army's EA and its supporting
documentation adequately assesses and discloses the environmental
impacts of the proposed action, including establishment of restricted
areas R-3803C, R-3803D, R-3803E, and R-3803F. Based on the evaluation
in the Army's EA, the FAA, as a Cooperating Agency, concluded that the
Army's EA qualifies for adoption by FAA, and that the FAA's adoption of
the Army's EA for the expansion of the R-3803 restricted area complex
in central Louisiana by establishing four new restricted areas, R-
3803C, R-3803D, R-3803E, and R-3803F is authorized in accordance with
40 CFR 1506.3, Adoption. Accordingly, FAA adopts the Army's EA and
takes full responsibility for the scope and content that addresses the
FAA's actions associated with the establishment of the additional
restricted areas.
List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 73
    Airspace, Prohibited areas, Restricted areas.
The Amendment
    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation
Administration amends 14 CFR part 73 as follows:
PART 73--SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE
0
1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows:
    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g); 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O.
10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.
Sec.  73.38   Louisiana [Amended]
0
2. Sec.  73.38 is amended as follows:
R-3803A Fort Polk, LA [Amended]
    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31[deg]23'37'' N, long.
93[deg]09'58'' W; to lat. 31[deg]23'13'' N, long. 93[deg]09'49'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]22'01'' N, long. 93[deg]10'06'' W; to lat.
31[deg]19'17'' N, long. 93[deg]11'11'' W; to lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N,
long. 93[deg]20'16'' W; to lat. 31[deg]24'31'' N, long.
93[deg]20'16'' W; to lat. 31[deg]24'31'' N, long. 93[deg]16'43'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]23'36'' N, long. 93[deg]13'25'' W; to the point of
beginning.
    Designated altitudes. Surface to but not including FL 180.
[[Page 33848]]
    Time of designation. By NOTAM issued at least 4 hours in
advance.
    Controlling agency. FAA, Houston ARTCC.
    Using agency. U.S. Army, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort
Polk, LA.
R-3803B Fort Polk, LA [Amended]
    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31[deg]23'37'' N, long.
93[deg]09'58'' W; to lat. 31[deg]23'13'' N, long. 93[deg]09'49'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]22'01'' N, long. 93[deg]10'06'' W; to lat.
31[deg]19'17'' N, long. 93[deg]11'11'' W; to lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N,
long. 93[deg]20'16'' W; to lat. 31[deg]24'31'' N, long.
93[deg]20'16'' W; to lat. 31[deg]24'31'' N, long. 93[deg]16'43'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]23'36'' N, long. 93[deg]13'25'' W; to the point of
beginning.
    Designated altitudes. FL 180 to but not including FL 350.
    Time of designation. By NOTAM issued at least 24 hours in
advance.
    Controlling agency. FAA, Houston ARTCC.
    Using agency. U.S. Army, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort
Polk, LA.
R-3803C Fort Polk, LA [New]
    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long.
93[deg]10'31'' W; to lat. 31[deg]17'39'' N, long. 93[deg]11'07'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]14'25'' N, long. 93[deg]12'17'' W; to lat.
31[deg]14'25'' N, long. 93[deg]14'40'' W; to lat. 31[deg]15'32'' N,
long. 93[deg]14'40'' W; to lat. 31[deg]15'32'' N, long.
93[deg]17'00'' W; to lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long. 93[deg]17'00'' W;
to the point of beginning.
    Designated altitudes. Surface to but not including FL 180.
    Time of designation. By NOTAM issued at least 4 hours in
advance.
    Controlling agency. FAA, Houston ARTCC.
    Using agency. U.S. Army, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort
Polk, LA.
R-3803D Fort Polk, LA [New]
    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long.
93[deg]03'29'' W; to lat. 31[deg]14'53'' N, long. 93[deg]03'30'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]14'52'' N, long. 93[deg]08'52'' W; to lat.
31[deg]14'51'' N, long. 93[deg]10'07'' W; to lat. 31[deg]14'25'' N,
long. 93[deg]10'06'' W; to lat. 31[deg]14'25'' N, long.
93[deg]12'17'' W; to lat. 31[deg]17'39'' N, long. 93[deg]11'07'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long. 93[deg]10'31'' W; to the point of
beginning, excluding the airspace area from the surface to and
including 1,200 feet AGL beginning at lat. 31[deg]14'52'' N, long.
93[deg]08'52'' W; at lat. 31[deg]14'51'' N, long. 93[deg]10'07'' W;
at lat. 31[deg]14'25'' N, long. 93[deg]10'06'' W; at lat.
31[deg]14'25'' N, long. 93[deg]12'17'' W; at lat. 31[deg]17'39'' N,
long. 93[deg]11'07'' W; at lat. 31[deg]17'04'' N, long.
93[deg]10'22'' W; at lat. 31[deg]16'11'' N, long. 93[deg]10'22'' W;
to the point of beginning of the excluded area.
    Designated altitudes. Surface to but not including FL 180.
    Time of designation. By NOTAM issued at least 4 hours in
advance.
    Controlling agency. FAA, Houston ARTCC.
    Using agency. U.S. Army, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort
Polk, LA.
R-3803E Fort Polk, LA [New]
    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long.
93[deg]10'31'' W; to lat. 31[deg]17'39'' N, long. 93[deg]11'07'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]14'25'' N, long. 93[deg]12'17'' W; to lat.
31[deg]14'25'' N, long. 93[deg]14'40'' W; to lat. 31[deg]15'32'' N,
long. 93[deg]14'40'' W; to lat. 31[deg]15'32'' N, long.
93[deg]17'00'' W; to lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long. 93[deg]17'00'' W;
to the point of beginning.
    Designated altitudes. FL 180 to but not including FL 350.
    Time of designation. By NOTAM issued at least 24 hours in
advance.
    Controlling agency. FAA, Houston ARTCC.
    Using agency. U.S. Army, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort
Polk, LA.
R-3803F Fort Polk, LA [New]
    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long.
93[deg]03'29'' W; to lat. 31[deg]14'53'' N, long. 93[deg]03'30'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]14'52'' N, long. 93[deg]08'52'' W; to lat.
31[deg]14'51'' N, long. 93[deg]10'07'' W; to lat. 31[deg]14'25'' N,
long. 93[deg]10'06'' W; to lat. 31[deg]14'25'' N, long.
93[deg]12'17'' W; to lat. 31[deg]17'39'' N, long. 93[deg]11'07'' W;
to lat. 31[deg]19'17'' N, long. 93[deg]10'31'' W; to the point of
beginning.
    Designated altitudes. FL 180 to but not including FL 350.
    Time of designation. By NOTAM issued at least 24 hours in
advance.
    Controlling agency. FAA, Houston ARTCC.
    Using agency. U.S. Army, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort
Polk, LA.
    Issued in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2019.
Rodger A. Dean Jr.,
Manager, Airspace Policy Group.
[FR Doc. 2019-15119 Filed 7-15-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-13-P