February 9, 2004
AOPA has petitioned the FAA to reconsider its "no hazard" determination for an immense indoor soccer field slated for construction immediately adjacent to Runway 11 at Sikorsky Memorial Airport (BDR) near Bridgeport, Connecticut. AOPA contends that the agency based its finding on incorrect information.
"Our Airport Support Network volunteer at Sikorsky, David Faile, discovered the problem and made sure we knew about it," said John Collins, AOPA government technical specialist. "He did a lot of the legwork to get the information we needed. The vigilance of our ASN volunteers frequently shortstops threats to airports."
The FAA had evaluated the proposal to build a translucent, inflatable dome over a soccer field near the airport. The dome would extend some 70 feet above the ground. When the FAA originally determined that the project would not pose a hazard to air navigation, the agency thought the building would be located 500 feet diagonally from the Runway 11 threshold. But in fact, the building would be only 380 feet away, penetrating the "transitional surface" - airspace near an airport that's supposed to be protected to ensure the safety of landing and departing aircraft.
In its petition, AOPA says the building could pose a hazard to pilots circling to land in instrument conditions or could generate strong turbulence or wind shear on the approach to Runway 11.
AOPA wasn't alone. The Friends of Sikorsky Memorial Airport, the airport manager, the control tower manager, and the local fixed-base operators are among those who have objected to the no-hazard determination.
If the FAA reverses its decision, that action will likely stop construction of the building. While the FAA doesn't have the authority to actually prevent construction of a hazard to air navigation, local zoning regulations or liability concerns usually prevent construction once the FAA has determined it's a hazard.
The FAA has agreed to review AOPA's petition and hold off finalizing its no-hazard determination.
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