The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has asked the San Diego Planning Commission to withhold approval for a plan to privatize Brown Field Municipal Airport and turn it into a major air cargo facility.
"The development plan continues to ignore the needs of general aviation," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president for regional affairs. "We've made repeated requests to the developers for corrective action, but we haven't received an adequate response."
Brown Field is one of two city-owned reliever airports for San Diego International (Lindbergh Field). It is also one of five airports nationwide that are scheduled to be privatized—that is, sold or leased to a private developer—under a congressionally ordered demonstration program.
But AOPA has been concerned about how general aviation will fare at Brown Field. For more than a year, the association has reviewed and commented on the developer's plans and spoken out at public meetings.
Brown Field Aviation Partners, Inc. (BFAP), plans to develop 253 acres on the north side of the airport as a cargo-handling facility, extend the main runway to 11,500 feet, install an ILS, and develop 173 acres on the south side of the airport for non-aviation commercial businesses.
Only 38 acres would be devoted to general aviation.
In a May 15 letter, AOPA told the San Diego Planning Commission that BFAP was "avoiding its responsibility to maintain, improve, and modernize the GA facilities" on that remaining small patch of land. The developer has also refused to set aside land for future GA needs at the airport.
AOPA said the intent of Congress' Airport Privatization Pilot Program was to use private investment for developments benefiting existing airport users and to accommodate growth.
"While the airport developer maintains detailed investment plans for the proposed cargo facility, we have every reason to believe the airport's general aviation needs will continue to be ignored," AOPA wrote the commission.
AOPA also reiterated its request for a detailed airspace study, noting that the substantial increase in cargo operations would affect other airports in the area.
"It's premature for this development project to move forward without first having an adequate plan to ensure the safety of all aircraft operating in the vicinity of Brown Field," said Dunn.
"AOPA cannot support the proposed development project. We urge the commission to withhold its approval of this project."
The commission is scheduled to consider the privatization plan at a May 25 meeting.
The 360,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members, as are more than 45,000 California pilots.
May 18, 2000