January 3, 2013
AOPA Government Affairs staff
The FAA has provided the Missouri aviation community a post-Christmas gift: a Dec. 28 letter to officials in St. Clair, Mo., that puts on hold the city’s five-year effort to kill its regional airport.
St. Clair and its mayor, Ron Blum, have waged an aggressive campaign to close St. Clair Regional Airport. Blum has sought assistance from members of Congress as well as Missouri state legislators. At the same time, tenants have been squeezed with higher hangar rental rates while the city refused to maintain the facilities. Grass has been left unmowed, taxiways unswept, hangars unmaintained, and burned-out runway lights left unfixed.
AOPA and local pilots fought back, opposing the city’s efforts since 2008.
In its latest letter to the city, the FAA notified it that the request for closure is on hold until the city lives up to its obligations under federal grant assurances and resolves formal and informal complaints brought against the city by local pilots.
“This is an excellent turn of events,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president for airport advocacy. “The city has been trying to circumvent the federal process and completely ignore their contractual obligations to the FAA.”
The airport, situated immediately adjacent to Interstate 44, could be a tremendous asset to the city if it would get behind it. Unfortunately, the city has received bad advice from the consultant it has retained to gain FAA approval for the closure, Dunn said.
AOPA will continue to work with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the FAA to ensure the airport remains open and assessable to the public.
Department of Transportation,
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.
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) talks about the Pilots Bill of Rights II, which includes a provision to allow private pilots to fly an aircraft with up to six seats, weighing up to 6,000 pounds, VFR or IFR, without a third class medical certificate. The bill also reforms the NOTAM system, and provides more legal protections for pilots accused of regulatory infractions.
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