Tall structures, airports don’t mix

<BR cmid="Article:Two Deck"><SPAN class=twodeck cmid="Article:Two Deck">Oklahoma lawmakers limit obstacles near airports</SPAN>

June 3, 2010

Tall obstacles—cell phone towers, wind turbines, or other structures—built too close to airports create a hazard for pilots and those on the ground. Compatible land-use regulations for airports can help minimize the likelihood of a too-tall structure being built near your airport.

Oklahoma AOPA members recently banded together to protect their airports from obstructions by contacting their state legislators and urging them to pass “The Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act.” Lawmakers passed the bill May 27, and the governor is expected to sign it into law within 30 days. The bill would provide greater protection to public-use airports from height obstructions and incompatible land use by giving the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission authority to regulate certain construction in designated approach areas.

“In the final analysis, passage of the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act is about protecting life—of the flying public and those that live or work around an airport,” said Oklahoma Aeronautics Director and Chairman of the National Association of State Aviation Officials Vic Bird. “Preventing the encroachment of incompatible land use due to its height or purpose is a critical step in this most important purpose.

“AOPA was an essential partner throughout the very challenging legislative process to get this passed. And, in the final hours when passage was still not certain, the AOPA army rallied and we got it done.”

In addition to calling AOPA members in Oklahoma to action, the association wrote to state legislators, and AOPA Southwest Region Representative Shelly DeZevallos met with lawmakers to support the bill.

“This proactive move to protect the airspace around public-use airports in Oklahoma is a sterling example for all states,” said Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs. “With the increasing prevalence of tall manmade obstructions all over the country, this legislation provides a good model to ensure that development of this nature will not undermine aviation safety.”