June 18, 2013
Frederick, MD – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) objected on Tuesday to a plan by the city council of Tracy, Calif. to shorten a runway at Tracy Municipal Airport by just a few feet. Reducing the runway length would shrink the required safety zones at the runway thresholds.
Under California airport guidelines, a 4,000-foot runway requires a safety area on both ends of the runway. By reducing the runway length, a much smaller safety zone would be required. The city of Tracy is reconstructing runway 12-30, which the FAA currently lists as 4,002 feet. The rebuilt runway, however, is planned for 3,997 feet.
AOPA made its objections known in a June 18 letter to the mayor of Tracy, Brent Ives. AOPA noted that the city will likely forego the larger safety area and could make the site available for development, which could lead to noise complaints.
“Frankly, it appears to us that the City is playing games with public safety over a difference of about three feet. An airport of this size deserves the added protection afforded by the larger safety areas,” wrote John Collins, AOPA’s manager of airport policy.
AOPA recommended that the City maintain the 4,000-foot runway length and the associated safety zones as a matter of prudent public policy.
“AOPA is concerned,” the letter states, “that the smaller compatible land use zones will allow more residential development closer to the airport…We see this as a detriment to normal airport and aircraft operations because it will create more noise complaints from residents in newer developments who might not otherwise have been affected by aircraft overflights. It will then fall to the City to deal with those complaints.”
AOPA’s Airport Directory states that about 114 aircraft are based at Tracy, and that the airport has about 60,000 operations a year.
Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. With a membership base of nearly 400,000, AOPA is the largest aviation association in the world. With representatives based in Frederick, M.D., Washington, D.C., and seven regions across the United States, AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, flight planning products, safety programs and award-winning media products. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
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In a friendly challenge between AOPA Foundation Executive Director Jim Minow and AOPA President Mark Baker, general aviation will ultimately be the winner.
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