Airports and State Advocacy
Plan to ban aircraft at North Las Vegas defeated
Whether you fly light general aviation, business, or experimental aircraft, you are welcome to fly into Nevada’s North Las Vegas Airport. State legislators made that clear May 26.
Instead of restricting certain aircraft from the airport, they adopted a resolution focusing on enhancing safety.
The Senate and Assembly passed a resolution encouraging aviation stakeholders to work together to ensure safety at the airport. The airport came under scrutiny nine months ago when two fatal accidents occurred within a week of each other.
Earlier versions of the resolution included a call to ban experimental aircraft and “high risk” flight operations at the airport. It also would have given Clark County officials power to regulate the airport, a move that would have preempted the FAA’s authority.
But AOPA worked with the legislators, Clark County officials, and local pilots to have those parts of the resolution replaced with a positive alternative. Sen. Dennis Nolan, a member of the Nevada Senate’s Energy, Infrastructure, and Transportation Committee, helped buy AOPA more time to work with bill sponsors State Sen. Steven A. Horsford and Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick to develop the proposal for an aviation stakeholder group.
“The state legislators recognized GA’s value, the FAA’s authority, and the aviation industry’s ability to work together to improve safety,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “Clark County pilots are committed to safety, and now it’s up to us to continue working with aviation stakeholders in the area to improve safety and the airport and enhance its perception in the community.”
AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation already have been working on both fronts.
Shortly after the incidents, the foundation explained the rarity of such events to the community and sent an e-mail to pilots in the area, urging them to complete online safety courses. The foundation later hosted a “Safe Skies, Good Neighbors” seminar for North Las Vegas pilots, reminding them of some safe practices for flying over cities.
AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Kathleen Snaper attended public meetings set up in the wake of the accidents to provide AOPA with critical information and worked with the Clark County Pilots Association to foster support for the airport. The association also talkedwith local pilots and used that information in its subsequent meetings with county and state officials to educate them on the safety of GA.
“Over these past nine months, we’ve built a solid relationship with many state and local officials and aviation groups,” said Pecoraro, “and we look forward to working with them to support—and protect—the continued access pilots have to the airport.”
May 28, 2009