As the public comment period on Washington State’s Long-term Air Transportation Study (LATS) drew to an end, AOPA weighed in with a five-page letter of comments. Now, the state’s aviation planning council will consider the comments from AOPA and others at its final meeting May 7.
In their comments, AOPA government affairs staff gave the plan mostly good marks.
Proposed strategies that won praise from AOPA in LATS include strengthening the state’s grant assurances, emphasizing compatible land use, and seeking increased legislative authority to keep airports from closing.
In its comments, AOPA strongly supported developing enforceable assurances and obligations to accompany a state airport grant.
“It is our experience that obligated airports that have grant assurances tend to remain open as an airport longer than those that do not have those same obligations,” the letter said. “In addition, local government and airport sponsors are less likely to attempt to close airports if they have contractually agreed to keeping the airport open as part of accepting state or federal finding.”
AOPA expressed some concerns about a state proposal to redistribute demand to nearby airports.
“While some redistribution to address capacity constraints should be part of long-term planning, that redistribution cannot occur at the expense of the general aviation operators,” the association said. “Of additional concern is the fact that the airports in proximity to the constrained airports may not have the appropriate facilities or available capacity to handle additional demand.”
Concern was also expressed about a proposal to “prioritize” system investments.
“Arguably, the airports that need support the most and are often of greatest importance to the general aviation community are not federally funded and would be most impacted by this strategy.”
The aviation planning council’s final recommendations will be presented July 1.