Airport relocations in Pennsylvania, Indiana must benefit GA users, AOPA says
Queen City and Indianapolis Metropolitan airports
Queen City Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Indianapolis Metropolitan in Indianapolis sit on prime real estate, making both airports targets for developers and city officials who want to move the fields to new locations. AOPA has pledged to vigorously oppose any action by developers that would cause the loss of critical GA facilities, and the association is working to ensure that the FAA forces the airport sponsors to comply with regulations.
The push to move the airports was initiated by developers and city officials, rather than the airport authorities. Both airports are obligated to remain open by federal grants, but there are no regulations to prevent their relocation and that's what the cities want to do. AOPA and local pilots are questioning the need to move these important airports.
"The FAA will not allow grant-obligated airports to be closed until a suitable replacement is complete and operational," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports. "And any new replacement airport must be equal to or better than the existing facility, which applies to runways, hangars, terminal buildings, parking lots, and access by road. Better yet, the proponents of relocation developers can't use existing airport funds to do it, and FAA funding is unlikely.
"It is our intent to make sure the general aviation community is not faced with a net loss in GA airport facilities."
The idea of relocating these two airports has been around for a couple of years. However, the governing airport authorities, while not taking any formal action to close either airport, have given the local governments permission to search for alternative sites to build replacement airports.
"Don't expect either of these airports to be relocated within the next four or five years," Dunn said. "Right now, the local governments are looking for sites, but they might not be able to find any that are suitable. This is only potentially the beginning of a process that takes years.
"The environmental impact studies could take another five years to complete, with no assurances that an identified site for either airport would be viable."
AOPA has discussed the regulations regarding the relocation of Indianapolis Metropolitan and Queen City with the FAA, and the association's legislative affairs team is in contact with U.S. Representative Charlie Dent (R-Pa., 15th district), who represents the Queen City area.
January 5, 2006