U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations, and Innovation, introduced the Dynamic Airspace Pilot Program Act of 2022. This bipartisan legislation would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in coordination with the Department of Defense (DoD), to establish a pilot program to support the development of “dynamic airspace,” or the efficient scheduling of special use airspace and airspace boundaries that evolve as military exercises or other flights proceed through them.
“I believe dynamic airspace will better enable the Pentagon to meet training requirements for 5th generation aircraft like the B-21, which need larger volumes of airspace to accommodate longer engagement distances,” said Thune. “But dynamic airspace should benefit all users of the National Airspace System, including an expanding commercial demand, new space entrants, and unmanned aircraft systems. The safe and efficient management of America’s airspace is critical to our national security and our economy, and I look forward to advancing the dynamic airspace concept.”
“Our bipartisan bill creates a pilot program testing special scheduling and management of airspace to expand aviation opportunities – fueling jobs and economic growth,” said Sinema.
The concept of dynamic airspace seeks to optimize use of the National Airspace System (NAS) to accommodate a growing universe of airspace users, including modern military aircraft that require larger volumes of airspace for realistic training, commercial and general aviation, military and commercial space launches, and unmanned aircraft systems. Optimized use of the NAS could lead to improved time and access to airspace, more direct flight routes, and reduced fuel consumption.
The Dynamic Airspace Pilot Program Act would require dynamic airspace testing in special activity airspace in at least two areas over land and one over coastal waters. The pilot program would be conducted in a manner that increases airspace access for military testing and training without conflicting with the safe management of the NAS for other users and stakeholders. The FAA and DoD would be required to report to Congress on the interim findings of the pilot program.