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Florida city may not downgrade airportFlorida city may not downgrade airport

The FAA told the city of Venice, Fla., Jan. 8 that it would not allow the city to downgrade Venice Municipal Airport to a smaller category of airport.

For two years, the Venice city council has repeatedly asked the FAA to allow the city to downgrade the airport from Airport Reference Code C-II to B-II. The city documented its reasons for the request in a Dec. 10, 2009, letter, citing the number of larger aircraft operations at the airport and the cost of compliance with C-II standards. The FAA stated that it would not downgrade the airport, but said it would be open to working with the city to help it achieve an acceptable level of safety where practical modifications can be made.

AOPA has been in constant communication with Airport Support Network volunteer John Yurosko, as well as FAA airport and Florida Department of Transportation staff. The association also has been working with the Venice Aviation Society Inc. (VASI) and the Venice Aviation Business Association (VABA) about the issue.

Venice received a grant in 2005 to update its master plan and airport layout plan, now three years overdue. Consultants hired to develop the draft found that runway protection zones (RPZs) and safety zones did not meet current standards. Meeting current standards for the C-II airport would necessitate an extension of the runway safety areas (RSAs) into the golf course driving range that is on leased airport property and would need to be moved. Further modifications to the golf course also would be necessary. 

Not accepting the plan, the city initiated another master plan update with another contractor. Instead of expanding safety areas to meet C-II standards, the city suggested reclassifying the airport in a way that would not require the golf course to be modified.

“AOPA would like to see the city present a master plan update to the FAA that meets the appropriate design standards for a C-II airport and allows for necessary maintenance and improvements,” AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins said.

For its most recent request, the city gathered data on the number and type of aircraft flying in and out of Venice Municipal, claiming that the airport did not have enough large aircraft operations to warrant a C-II designation. The FAA responded that it considers all users of an airport, including those with large aircraft currently based at Venice; that the airport will reach the number of operations to warrant the designation within the planning period; and that the city must more thoroughly document its method of forecasting traffic. While it would not downgrade the airport, the agency said it would consider other alternatives the city may propose.

Topics: Advocacy

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