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Looking at the VFR chart at 453507N1194903W there is a note:

US VFR chart at 453507N1194903W with Boardman & Boardman LOW MOAs and restricted R-5701 and R-5706 airspaces and a note "BOARDMAN & BOARDMAN LOW MOAS EXCLUDED WHEN R-5701 & R-5706 ARE ACTIVE"

"BOARDMAN & BOARDMAN LOW MOAS EXCLUDED WHEN R-5701 & R-5706 ARE ACTIVE"

What is being excluded here? The military's use of the MOA (so the MOA is "cold" and safe for the general public to use) or the general public's ability to use the MOA (so the MOA is hot, and while possibly legal for the public to use, definitely not recommended or maybe even prohibited)? What does this message mean?

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First, to answer your specific question:

What is being excluded here? The military's use of the MOA (so the MOA is "cold" and safe for the general public to use) or the general public's ability to use the MOA (so the MOA is hot, and while possibly legal for the public to use, definitely not recommended or maybe even prohibited)?

Actually, the chart makers are not intending that this particular phrase should be understood to convey any information about whether, when the Restricted Areas are active, the MOAs will or will not also be active. The label is just attempting to let you know that whenever the Restricted Areas are active, any airspace that they share with the MOAs temporarily "drops out" of those MOAs.

I've now received confirmation that this understanding is correct, in a response to an inquiry I submitted to the FAA's on-line portal for Aeronautical Inquiries. The response included the sentence "I recognize that the exclusionary verbiage could be confusing".

Some MOAs are set up this way, and others aren't. MOA boundaries are given in "FAA ORDER JO 7400.10E", entitled "Special Use Airspace". The Boardman MOAs are described on pp. 172-173.

Other examples of places where this same pattern of verbiage appears on the VFR sectional charts includes the San Diego sectional chart between Yuma Az and the Salton Sea, and the area NE of Fallon NV on the Reno sectional chart. But the "Eglin E" MOA near Destin FL does not include a similar label, and the description of this MOA in JO 7400.10E doesn't say anything about carve-outs for the Restricted Areas when they are active.

Arguably a clearer chart label would read something to the effect of "WHEN ACTIVE, R-5701 and R-5706 ARE EXCLUDED FROM BOARDMAN & BOARDMAN LOW MOAs." The current label seems to get it backwards-- near Boardman, when the Restricted Areas are active their airspace is carved out of (i.e. "excluded from") the MOAs, not the other way around.

In fact, since the information seems to have no operational relevance anyway, it might better be placed on the table of MOA descriptions that appears in the left-hand margin of every sectional chart, than on the actual map portion of the chart. A single line of text at the bottom could be keyed to all the appropriate MOAs in the table.

I would suggest that the current language risks giving the pilots the impression that the airspace1 in the Boardman and Boardman Low MOAs may sometimes be excluded from the Restricted Areas R-5701 & R-5706. This would seem to go against the interests of safety, and to increase the risks of inadvertent violations of the regulations.

Footnotes:

  1. Arguably the current label can't be unequivocally judged to be "wrong" if one takes the attitude that what is being "excluded" from the Restricted Areas (when they are active) is the characteristic of also being a MOA, not the airspace of the MOAs. But this is a convoluted way of thinking, and doesn't mirror the language of JO 7400.10E. Still, the issue is logically "squirrelly" enough that it might be hard to convince the FAA's Charting Group that a change to the established practice is really justified.
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    – Ralph J
    Sep 28, 2023 at 22:47

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