AOPA is pleased to report that plans to turn the former Air National Guard ramp area at Van Nuys Airport into a parking area for light general aviation aircraft are gaining both clarity and momentum.
A $6-million contract to level existing buildings and remove hazardous materials has been signed, and construction of new facilities is slated to begin in May 2009.
Pacific Aviation Development (PAD) is the city’s choice to build and manage the new “Prop Park,” and the ultimate price tag for the project could reach $20 million, according to the contractor.
Construction on the 48-acre site is expected to include hangars for up to 335 piston singles, with tie-down space for another 100 or so. A new GA terminal is part of the project and there is talk of a museum as well.
According to PAD, the Van Nuys Prop Park is expected to be a model for similar developments at other airports. These could include Chandler Airport and Falcon Field in Arizona, Reno Stead Airport in Nevada, and Brackett Field in California.
Fixed-based operator (FBO) consolidation continues at Van Nuys. The local Million Air franchise has been sold to Maguire Aviation, and construction of a new hangar and office facility west of the current building has begun. Approximately 50 temporary hangars on this portion of the site were relocated to the east side of the airport.
Maguire previously acquired the Peterson Aviation and Air Sources FBOs. According to local sources, Maguire is near closing on the purchase of Sky Trails, a GA-centered FBO on the field.
In addition, Signature Flight Support has acquired the former Raytheon FBO at Van Nuys, although Hawker Beechcraft will continue to provide aircraft maintenance at the facility. The Pentastar FBO, now housed in a trailer-type structure on the north side of the airport, is planning a new, luxury facility, and has submitted building permit requests in support of the project.
Santa Monica Municipal Airport is still open to jets—at least for now. Federal District Court Judge George Wu issued a temporary restraining order on April 28, preventing the city from imposing a law banning aircraft in approach speed categories C and D.
Wu’s ruling came less than a week after the FAA issued a “cease and desist” order in response to Santa Monica’s effort to enforce the ban.
“This isn’t the end of the issue, but the court and the FAA are sending a very clear message to Santa Monica and other airports that arbitrary restrictions on federally funded airports will not be tolerated,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy.
“AOPA is pleased that the FAA is taking a forceful stand to protect access to our nation’s airports.”
The FAA issued the order on April 24, the same day the ban was to take effect and one day after the city refused to withdraw a letter warning pilots that they faced fines and even jail time for violating the ban.
After receiving the order, city officials met with representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s office and held off on enforcing the ban.
Senate Bill 1118, a key piece of AOPA-supported legislation that will strengthen California’s land use laws and protect airports from developers, has passed the state senate by a nearly unanimous vote.
The bill strengthens state law by requiring all counties with at least one public airport to create and staff an airport land use commission. In AOPA’s experience, such groups are an effective way to preempt noise complaints and encroachment threatening airports.
S.B.1118 is a response to concerns that state laws designed to protect public airports from incompatible development were weakening because of amendments, inconsistent administration, loopholes, and local interpretations. Should the bill become law, airports facing the greatest potential benefit include those located in Marin, San Bernardino, and Santa Cruz counties.
AOPA worked with Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) to introduce the bill, and has worked actively to win its passage. The bill now moves to the State Assembly’s Local Government Committee.
AOPA has suspended e-mail alerting of temporary flight restrictions associated with unmanned aerial vehicle flights from Beale Air Force base near Marysville, because of a significant rise in the frequency of these operations.
Pilots are advised to check notams before every flight, to see if a TFR is in place for the airspace over and around Beale AFB. Members will still have access to graphical notam information and plain language explanation of the TFRs on AOPA Online.
AOPA is working with the U.S. Air Force and the FAA to mitigate the impact of these UAV-related TFRs. Members will continue to receive Airspace Bulletins alerting them to the presence of the large TFRs associated with presidential visits to the Beale AFB/Marysville, California area.
TFR information is also available through the FAA’s Internet site although this information should not be considered a substitute for a thorough preflight briefing.
It’s final: The city of Watsonville won’t be able to build homes north of Watsonville Municipal Airport.
On April 28, Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick signed a final order for his March 21 decision against the city’s development plans.
The judge also turned down the city’s 2005 resolution that would have eliminated one runway safety zone and shortened another.
Burdick’s action is a response to a lawsuit filed by local advocates, including the Watsonville Pilots Association, the Friends of Buena Vista and the Sierra Club.
To Bill Dunn, AOPA’s vice president of local airport advocacy, the Watsonville win “demonstrates the power of an active airport support group.”
AOPA has asked the FAA to review city plans to build a new tractor supply facility at Delano Airport. The city has granted a 15-year lease with renewal options for the site, and construction of a permanent building is underway.
According to AOPA, the development project is unacceptable and illegal, because the land parcel set aside for the construction is—as a surplus property conveyance with deed restrictions—obligated to airport use under federal law.
“We feel strongly that the agency must enforce these obligations—especially when other viable options exist,” AOPA said.
The American Association of Airport Executives recently held its third annual general aviation issues conference at Van Nuys Airport. Approximately 150 people attended the event, which featured presentations by AOPA representatives. Bill Dunn, vice president of local airport advocacy, participated in a panel discussion regarding community outreach, while Randy Kenagy, AOPA government affairs chief of staff, served on the Washington Perspective and Advanced Technology panels.
A proposed ban on night operations at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank has triggered a strong response from AOPA, which has filed comments with the FAA in opposition to the move. The association also urged its members to file their own comments.
“We have concerns about the impact the proposed curfew would have on surrounding airports,” said AOPA Senior Director of Airports Heidi Williams. “The Airport Authority is attempting to shift nighttime flights to an already congested neighboring airport, Van Nuys.”
First proposed seven years ago in the name of noise mitigation, the Burbank curfew would eliminate takeoffs and landings at Burbank between 10 p.m. and 6:59 a.m., with limited exceptions for emergency medical, law enforcement, and other flights.
While night freight services such as Ameriflight are likely to suffer the most if the ban is imposed, private operators of general aviation aircraft, including personal jets and turboprops, would be subject to the restriction as well.
Airlines serving Burbank have already suspended takeoffs and landings during the hours of the proposed curfew, on a voluntary basis.