NOAAAfter a somewhat lengthy delay, we have finally heard back from NOAA – Office of Marine Sanctuary.

As you may know, the California Pilots Association has written to NOAA – Office of Marine Sanctuary – regarding last year’s west coast airspace change, which the we believe was implemented without justification.

One of our requests was simple –”Supply us with the documented verification that there were in fact numerous violations which justified the marine sanctuary airspace change from voluntary to a forced disciplinary violation.”

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Read our letter to California Congressman Issa regarding the NOAA’s – National Marine Sanctuaries unwarranted air space change implemented earlier this year. While we all agree that protecting wild life is a good thing, we disagree with the NOAA’s lack of justification, and NOAA’s threat posture of – guilty until proven innocent – associated with this change. It is unacceptable – period.

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TCongressman Issa and AOPA CEO Craig FullerCongressman Issa and AOPA CEO Craig Fullerhe California Pilots Association took full advantage of a small Town Hall type meeting that Congressman Darrel Issa (southern California) and AOPA CEO Craig Fuller had at AOPA Summit 2012 in Palm Springs CA.

CalPilots asked Congressman Issa a pointed question regarding NOAA’s recent airspace grab along areas of the California, and Washington state coast, lowering the floor in two over water areas, which is not only confusing, but in our opinion, not required as NOAA never provided specific proof that it was justified.

The California Pilots Association stated that “NOAA never bothered to answer our letter regarding justification to change this airspace”, and asked “why any aviator deemed in violation, even by untrained ground observers, was considered guilty until proven innocent?” We also asked “when did the innocent until proven guilty change in the United States?”

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California has also experienced the FAA’s “not so friendly general aviation attitude” when the FAA wanted to create an even more confusing airspace in Los Angeles (is that even possible?) due to the complaints of Jet Blue regarding TCAS alerts departing out of Long Beach. Additionally, the FAA’s total lack of concern with the NOAA’s air space grab along the entire west coast left all of us shaking our heads when NOAA could not, and would not, produce evidence which validated the need for further restrictions over wildlife areas.

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Pilots could face stiff fines—up to six figures—for violating new overflight regulations that place the National Airspace System on a slippery slope. The FAA has ceded to another federal agency—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—authority to enforce what amount to new airspace restrictions.

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The NOAA’s latest proposal to limit overflight of Marine Sanctuary assumes the pilot is guilty just by being there.

SUMMARY: NOAA proposes to amend the regulations of the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, and Olympic Coast national marine sanctuaries relating to sanctuary overflights. Specifically, NOAA proposes to: amend the regulations requiring that motorized aircraft maintain certain minimum altitudes above specified locations within the boundaries of the listed sanctuaries; and state that failure to comply with these altitude limits is presumed to disturb marine mammals or seabirds and is a violation of the sanctuary regulations.

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