July 3, 2008
By AOPA ePublishing staff
AOPA is supporting a measure before the North Carolina legislature that could be the first step to the creation of a new airport in Orange County.
S.B.1925, which is now before the state House, would give the University of North Carolina (UNC) system the power to create airport authorities, a move that could pave the way for a new airport near Chapel Hill.
Despite active opposition from AOPA and local pilots, UNC Chapel Hill has long planned to close Horace Williams Airport. “We believe keeping Horace Williams open has always been the best option for the university and the aviation community, and have insisted a replacement facility should be built if UNC ultimately closes the airport,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. “If this legislation is enacted into law, it would be an important step to making that replacement possible.”
The airport not only serves the university, it also provides a link to vital health services for rural counties and provides and important transportation option for area pilots without adding to congestion at Raleigh-Durham International. Recently, the UNC leadership agreed that the Chapel Hill area needs a replacement should Horace Williams close and has asked the legislature for the authority to build a new airport.
By allowing UNC to create airport authorities, S.B.1925 would make any new airports eligible for federal funding.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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