AOPA opposes New Jersey effort to limit airport development

October 2, 2003

Assemblyman Herb Conaway, MD
Delran Professional Center
8008 Route 130 North, Suite 125
Delran, NJ 08075

Dear Assemblyman Conaway:

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) represents more than 400,000 members nationwide, 9,580 of whom reside in New Jersey. Our members operate general aviation aircraft from airports throughout New Jersey for business and personal travel. The safe and efficient utilization of airports is critical for our members and the more than $1.3 billion annual economic development general aviation contributes to your state.

Your office recently held a press conference to urge passage of state legislation aimed at preventing certain aircraft from using local airports (Assembly Bill 3886). AOPA is opposed to Assembly Bill 3886. We believe, rather than placing unilateral restrictions on the airport, a much better approach to addressing noise would be through the use of compatible land use and planning.

AOPA understands the concerns of a community relating to aircraft noise. In fact, AOPA and the aviation community promote "fly friendly" concepts to help reduce aircraft noise. We also encourage communities to actively engage in compatible land-use planning to help do their part to prevent such contentious noise issues.

However, Assembly Bill 3886 does not address aircraft noise or compatible land-use planning. Simply put, Assembly Bill 3886 limits airport development—regardless of noise or the size of aircraft operating at the airport.

In order to improve safety, better serve a community, or to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport design standards, it is often necessary to increase the width or length of a runway. Without a noise study, Assembly Bill 3886 fails to consider how a specific project actually relates to noise. In some circumstances, increasing a runway's length several hundred feet does not entice any larger aircraft to use an airport, but may actually reduce aircraft noise. Aircraft require a certain amount of runway length to complete their takeoff roll, and by extending one end of the runway, the aircraft is able to gain more altitude before flying over noise-sensitive areas, considerably reducing the ground noise.

Rather than taking a unilateral approach to noise by prohibiting airport development, we strongly suggest a complete approach that addresses the unique nature of individual airports by combining compatible land-use planning and noise studies. No legislation should be enacted that would prohibit an airport from making necessary safety improvements or enhancements.

We would be pleased to provide you any information on FAA noise studies, airport design standards, compatible land-use planning, or AOPA's fly friendly information.

Sincerely,

Andrew V. Cebula
Senior Vice President
Government and Technical Affairs

Cc: Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Chairman, Assembly Transportation Committee

October 2, 2003