Maine delegation requests FAA hearing on Condor flights
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday, urging the agency to hold a hearing in Maine regarding the Massachusetts Air National Guard's proposal to expand and lower the flight level for Condor 1 and Condor 2 flight training areas.
“We strongly urge the FAA to hold a public hearing in Maine as part of its review of the proposal to lower Condor flight levels over western Maine,” said Snowe, Collins, Michaud, and Pingree in a joint statement. “Holding a hearing in Maine would help ensure that local residents and other stakeholders have the opportunity to voice their concerns directly to aviation officials.”
The delegation has been working together in response to constituents in western Maine who have expressed concerns about the potential impact the proposed flight level changes could have on the region.
Currently, in Condor 1 and Condor 2, Air National Guard pilots must stay above 7,000 feet throughout the military operation areas, unless they're training in military training routes, or MTRs. The ANG wants to lower the minimum altitude to 500 feet above ground throughout most of its training operation areas.
"Many constituents in western Maine continue to be concerned about the potential impact these flight level changes would have on the environment, the economy, and the quality of life in western Maine. We believe the FAA should hear these concerns firsthand to determine whether or not to approve the airspace change," the delegation's letter stated.
Last month, the Maine House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution petitioning Maine's Congressional Delegation to oppose proposed modifications to the military operation area that encompasses Franklin County and much of western Maine.
The resolution was presented by Rep. Tom Saviello (R - Wilton) and was cosponsored by Sen. Walter Gooley (R- Farmington), Rep. Paul Gilbert (D - Jay), Rep. Lance Harvell (R - Farmington), Rep. Jarrod Crockett (D - Bethel), Rep. Matthew Peterson (D - Rumford) and Rep. Wayne Mitchell, representing the Penobscot Nation.
The resolution asked the Maine Congressional Delegation to request the FAA a delay any decision on a proposal by the Air National Guard to modify Condor 1 and Condor 2, military operation areas that have encompassed most of Franklin County for 30 years.
The Maine delegation's request went one step further by requesting the FAA hold a public hearing in Maine before making a decision.
Saviello said today he appreciates the delegation's response. He had taken issue with the Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Air National Guard on the proposed modification which he termed "incomplete at best."
"I thank the delegation for their continued support and listening to our concerns about the process. I hope FAA will responded favorably," Saviello said of the delegation's public hearing request of the FAA.