Just weeks after an agreement between county officials, local pilots, and AOPA to work collaboratively to improve safety at Nevada’s North Las Vegas Airport, two state legislators introduced a joint resolution asking Congress to ban experimental homebuilt aircraft at the field.
The Committee on Energy, Infrastructure, and Transportation was slated to hold a hearing on the resolution Feb. 17. However, as a result of AOPA’s immediate outreach to the sponsors and other state legislators, the hearing has been postponed while discussions continue.
“We are encouraged by the positive response from state legislators and AOPA will continue working on this issue,” said AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Greg Pecoraro. “We encourage pilots to wait for the outcome of these discussions and a new hearing date before contacting their legislators.
“The aviation community is working hard to improve safety at all the airports in Clark County, and county aviation officials have agreed to be part of that collaborative effort,” said Pecoraro. “Now we hope to bring state lawmakers on board with this cooperative approach to developing a comprehensive safety plan.”
Two Clark County legislators co-sponsored the resolution, SJR3, in response to community concerns following two fatal accidents at the airport last summer. While the resolution recognizes that access to airspace can only be regulated by the federal government, it asks Congress to enact legislation ceding some of that authority to the Clark County Department of Aviation to enable the county to ban experimental homebuilt aircraft from using North Las Vegas.
Since the measure was introduced on Feb. 9, AOPA has been in close contact with numerous state legislators, briefing them about the wide ranging efforts to enhance safety at the airport, including an educational seminar hosted in January by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and Clark County Pilot’s Association. Some 400 pilots attended the “Safe Skies, Good Neighbors” seminar, which focused on the special considerations associated with flying at urban airports like North Las Vegas. Topics included noise management, runway safety, emergency procedures, and regulations.
In the immediate aftermath of last summer’s accidents, AOPA and the foundation explained the safety of GA to the media and surrounding community members. The foundation also sent an e-mail to 3,000 pilots in the Las Vegas area, encouraging them to complete its online safety courses.
Local pilots and AOPA members, including AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Kathleen Snaper, attended public meetings in the weeks following the accidents to calm the community’s fears.
Then, in December 2008, Snaper and the Clark County Aviation Association hosted an airport open house and invited the public to learn more about their airport. Hundreds attended the event, which featured aircraft displays and safety information.