California Action

October 1, 2001

AOPA says changing traffic pattern won't fix incompatible land use

In a recent letter to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, AOPA expressed its strong opposition to a plan to move the traffic pattern at Sacramento Mather Airport to make way for incompatible land use near the field.

The proposed pattern change would affect Runway 4L/22R and would extend the downwind and final legs of the pattern by about 2,500 feet in an attempt to distance aircraft operations from the likely site of an elementary school.

But in a letter to the county supervisors, who must make the official request to the FAA for a traffic pattern change, Keith Holt, AOPA's manager of airport policy, wrote that changing the traffic pattern would not resolve the fundamental problem of incompatible land use. The letter went on to say that changing the traffic pattern could create unnecessary safety hazards for pilots because of the extended final approach and could increase the likelihood that areas of the community not currently affected would be troubled by aircraft overflight. In addition, the letter pointed out that pilots would sometimes be forced to deviate from the proposed pattern by traffic, weather, or obstructions.

The planned school would serve the Village of Zinfandel subdivision, but Caltrans Aeronautics already has rejected several school sites in the development because of their proximity to the runway or location under critical maneuvering areas of the traffic pattern. It is not yet clear whether the agency would accept the latest proposed school site if the traffic pattern were modified.

More than two years ago, AOPA opposed initial approval of the Zinfandel subdivision by the county, citing projected growth of the airport and the need to protect the airport from incompatible land use.

ILS back in action at Salinas

After two years, Salinas Municipal Airport once again has a fully operational ILS. The glideslope was repaired and activated in time for the California International Airshow, scheduled to be held at the field from September 21 through 23. The airshow was set to feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

In other positive news for the airport, a new maintenance facility, Advancetech Aviation, recently moved into a newly completed hangar on the field. The business will service aircraft ranging from piston singles through jets.

Residential component of Boeing development raises concerns at Long Beach

Work on an environmental impact report for a proposed Boeing development on the boundary of Long Beach/Daugherty Field is set to begin in the spring, but airport supporters have already raised questions about a residential component to the planned development.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Candace Robinson has been monitoring the situation and reports that the Long Beach Airport Advisory Commission recently submitted a letter to the city council in opposition to the project. AOPA also has written to the planning commission expressing concerns about residential development so close to a very active and key area airport. Following those letters, Boeing promised to maintain the capacity of the airport, not to advocate closure of any runways, and to request avigation easements from property purchasers. Such easements would give the city the right to control the height of buildings, trees, and other potential obstructions on the site along with the right to expose the site to unlimited aircraft noise.

Initial research by the airport bureau shows that when crosswind runways are in use the planned residential area would have hundreds of overflights each day from aircraft approaching to land at altitudes no greater than 200 feet. In addition, within the residential area, people would have to at least raise their voices to communicate and possibly be forced to shout to hold a conversation.

Updated ordinances could restrict airport use

A proposed airport ordinance update for Santa Barbara Municipal Airport could restrict use of the field. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Gordon Feingold brought the ordinance update to the attention of AOPA headquarters because of concerns that some of the proposals would unreasonably limit airport use.

Here are some of the proposed changes: motorless aircraft and helicopters would require prior permission from the airport director to land; piston and turboprop aircraft could not perform pleasure or practice flights below 4,000 feet in noise-sensitive areas; jet aircraft could not perform similar flights below 5,000 feet; turboprops and jets would be prohibited from performing a series of practice ILS approaches with or without actual landings; and takeoffs would have to be made from the end of the runway unless tower controllers specify otherwise.

Neither the city nor the airport commission can make such changes without FAA approval, and AOPA continues to work with ASN volunteer Feingold to ensure that any proposed restrictions at the airport are not applied in a discriminatory manner.

Noise study approved at Van Nuys

After a dozen years of deliberations, the Los Angeles Board of Commissioners has approved a noise compatibility study for Van Nuys Airport under Part 150 of the federal aviation regulations.

The noise compatibility program resulting from the study will include 35 separate noise control measures. The study was aimed at getting federal funding for a noise mitigation program at the airport, including $15 million to soundproof more than 1,000 residences with double-paned windows, solid-core doors, insulation, and air conditioning. The study also recommends expanding the nighttime takeoff curfew to include all jet aircraft instead of the current policy of banning only the noisiest jets from taking off between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The FAA is expected to require an additional study under FAR Part 161 before broadening the curfew.

Other proposed noise control measures advocated in the study already have been implemented at the airport, including state-of-the-art noise monitoring and the establishment of an airport noise-abatement office.

The 21-member steering committee for the Part 150 study has two weeks to review the decision to approve the study before it is forwarded to the FAA for review and approval.

Master plan for Hayward set

The Hayward city council is close to adopting an airport master plan worth more than $16 million in growth and development for Hayward Executive Airport.

The master plan, which has been in the works for three years, would cover airport development through 2020. Short-term developments would include runway and taxiway expansion, new hangar construction, and a noise wall. Longer-term projects are likely to include a public terminal building, runway identification lights, road improvements, 900,000 square feet of aviation-related development, and another 320,000 square feet of commercial or industrial development.

Airport advocates look forward to the development as Hayward gains increasing importance as a Bay Area general aviation reliever airport.

Sierra Sky Park makes changes for relicensing

Sierra Sky Park Airport is ready for relicensing by the state of California after making changes to bring the field into compliance with regulations. Among the changes at the airport were filling squirrel holes and grading the land alongside the runway, as well as a unicom frequency change to 122.9 MHz.

The airpark in northwest Fresno is the site of numerous homes. Residents of the airpark use streets to taxi from their hangars to Runway 12/30. The airport does not have fuel or any other services but does operate as a public field.

Effects of light from planned development to be studied at Petaluma

The Petaluma Planning Commission has requested a study of the impact of night lighting at a proposed sports complex adjacent to Petaluma Municipal Airport.

Commissioners recently voted 5 to 2 in favor of the development, but expressed some concerns about the impact of lighting the stadium complex at night. Pilots fear that high-intensity lights could pose a safety hazard to night airport operations.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Thomas McGaw worries that an outside consultant hired by the City of Petaluma will side with the city. McGaw is seeking a qualified consultant who will be able to integrate the perspective of pilots into the study.

In the meantime, the city must complete additional paperwork that will allow the FAA's Flight Procedures Division to review how the project will impact VOR and GPS approaches. The city council is scheduled to review the property lease and business agreements for the development sometime this month, and the entire issue must return to the planning commission for a final decision. No timeline has been set for that vote.

Elizabeth Tennyson

Elizabeth A Tennyson | Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications, AOPA

Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.