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Major Air Route Closed--No Reason Given

A temporary flight restriction has been issued by the FAAfor a major North Pacific air corridor, covering air routesR-222, R-580 and A-590. The restriction covers the datesSeptember 10-15. The cloture of these major routes is highlyunusual, is said to be due to a Department of DefenseStrategic Defense Initiative, but the nature of thatinitiative has not been revealed.

The FAA has said that aircraft can fly north of the affectedroutes into Russian airspace, but Russian securityregulations limit the number of available altitudes, raisinga safety question during high-traffic periods on these majorroutes.

Extra time and fuel will be needed to fly the alternateroutes. An airline pilot comments, "I have never seen amajor international route closed like this."

Inquiries to the FAA and the Defense Department have goneunacknowledged.

In the past routes in this area have been closed at timesdue to plumes from volcanos on the Kamchatka penninsula, butthere are no such volcanic plumes at this time. There isalso no known exercise, satellite or missile re-entry toexplain the cloture. Normally, a major military exercise,even if its nature was classified, would be announced wellin advance.

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