Gulf of Mexico Area
Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility [FACSFAC] Pensacola is a branch of the Air Traffic Control Facility at NAS Pensacola, Florida. The Chief of Naval Operations certified the FACSFAC as an ATC facility on 2 October 1994. The mission of the command is to schedule, coordinate, and monitor surface and airborne operations within the confines of all SUA under its cognizance. Warning Area 155 (W-155) and five ATCAAs adjacent to W-155 are located in this area. FACSFAC also, in response to a request from Navy users, coordinates the use of W-453, and the Eagle Golf 1 and 2 ATCAAs scheduled through the Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center, Gulfport, Mississippi, and W-151, scheduled through the 46 th Test Wing at Eglin AFB. The FACSFAC at Pensacola also manages twenty four Military Training Routes (MTRs), 10 VFR and 14 IFR. The major issue facing the FACSFAC at Pensacola is an ongoing study to determine the cost and operational benefit of either retaining the facility at Pensacola or relocating the capability to the FACSFAC in Jacksonville Florida.
The Gulf of Mexico Area contains areas used primarily for student pilot and navigator training. The following target/instrumented area is in this complex:
- McMullen County Range (R-6312)
The following non-instrumented warning areas and Operating Areas (OPAREA) are included in this area:
- Warning Area 92 (W-92)
- Warning Area 155 (W-155)
- Warning Area 228 (W-228)
- New Orleans OPAREA
- Pensacola OPAREA
NAS Corpus Christi's airspace is optimized for the training mission, and includes offshore and limited onshore areas. The key to this flexibility is availability of Warning Area W-228, a 12,574 sq. mi. area adjacent offshore from the base, offering access to airspace from 10,000 up to FL 180 above Alert Area 632B/C/F (A-632B/C/F). W-228 supports the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) as well as a number of other users, especially units of the Texas Air National Guard and NASA aircraft from the Johnson Space Center south of Houston.
Unlike most DON airspace, W-228 is operated on an "exclusive use" basis. This reflects the increased emphasis on safety inherent in a student training environment, in which cockpit lookout and situational awareness skills are assumed to be less polished than in fleet aviators. Students are assigned specific working areas in real time rather than based on a schedule, maximizing flexibility and capacity. 52 DON aircraft from NAS Kingsville also operate in W-228, at higher altitudes (FL 240 and below) than those from NAS Corpus Christi.
NAS Corpus Christi provides surveillance of the area and flight following service using a Navy GPN-27 ASR. Use of W-228 is augmented by use of Alert Area 632A. NAS Corpus Christi coordinates military usage of the area. A-632A is not "exclusive" in any sense, nor does it impose any restriction on transit by non-participants; the Alert Area designation simply indicates to non-participating pilots the presence of high density aircraft operations, normally involving training, being conducted in accordance with Federal Aviation Regulations. Nevertheless, the area is recognized and respected by local pilots, and its depiction on aeronautical charts is an indication to transient pilots that this activity is occurring. NAS Corpus Christi reports only infrequent VFR "intruders" into its training airspace or terminal airspace (note that as most of this airspace remains open to unrestricted VFR transit; the transient aircraft are by definition not intruders). Corpus Christi Radar Approach Control works Navy training aircraft within A-632, below 10,000 feet MSL, providing traffic calls and other VFR advisory services, on a required basis.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|