The National Academies' Transportation Research Board (TRB) has announced a study of protection of airports. TRB has established a panel to direct and oversee the study. AOPA's California Regional Representative, John Pfeifer, has been appointed to the 11-member panel of industry experts, all of whom have extensive experience with airport protection issues. The study, titled Preservation of Public- Use Airports, will be conducted by the TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program. The potential tasks of the study as specified in TRB's problem statement, to be conducted by a consultant yet to be selected, include:
The panel's work was to begin in November.
During the past eight years AOPA executives and volunteers of the AOPA Airport Support Network have repeatedly warned against the nibbling away of Delano Municipal Airport property by city officials. The current threat is the proposed sale of 15 acres that would be used for business development. AOPA Vice President for Airports Bill Dunn met with Brian Armstrong, manager of the Los Angeles Airports District Office, in August and followed up recently with a letter confirming AOPA's opposition to the loss of Delano airport property. It was the second letter Dunn had sent this summer, following an August meeting in Armstrong's office.
"I am writing you to again reiterate the association's position on the city's request," Dunn said.
"AOPA is strongly opposed to the release of these properties and reclassification of airport property to non-aviation uses. We again urge you to reject the city's request for release. AOPA will take whatever action is necessary to prevent this loss of valuable and vital airport property. These parcels are the last pieces of airport property that can be used for aeronautical activity without significant infrastructure development needed. Additionally, it is my understanding based on previous conversations with you that the city has yet to make use of airport property previously released for non-aeronautical uses by the FAA at the airport!
"As I noted in my July 2007 letter to Mark McClardy, Delano Municipal Airport was conveyed to a local civil sponsor by the federal government for use as a public-use airport. Unfortunately though, since that time the sponsor has continually whittled away at airport property for non-aviation uses to the extent that only property on the west side of the airport is usable for aviation-related purposes; the same property the city is asking the FAA to release to non-aviation uses.
"There is an abundant amount of vacant property to the east of the airport that while currently undeveloped, would be much more appropriate for non-aviation uses. Property that has the necessary infrastructure in place and development potential for aviation uses should remain encumbered to aviation and only aviation purposes. Once released, the parcels will be lost to future aviation demands. It would be much better to ensure those properties are available for future needs than for the city to be myopic and only see short term gains at the expense of the airport.
"In support of the proposed release, it has been argued that there is '...additional aeronautical property' capacity at other airports in the immediate area. We simply do not view such a philosophical approach to bowing to an airport sponsor's request as an appropriate reason to dispose of airport property acquired and developed with public funding as a valid reason or 'excuse' to dispose of airport property."
Dunn said since 2003, according to FAA records, nearly 9,000 acres of airport property have been released for non-aeronautical purposes nationwide, the equivalent of several general aviation airports.