Acting FAA Associate Administrator for Airports Catherine M. Lang has expressly instructed the city of Venice, Fla., that it cannot downgrade the Venice airport.
The downgrade would change the airport from a C-II to a B-II status. C-II status refers to standards that apply to airports serving high-performance aircraft, and includes safety provisions such as larger runway approach and departure protection zones. In 2006, Venice sought federal funding based on the airport’s C-II status.
However, Venice allowed homes to be built in the runway protection zones, and a golf course is located within them as well. After discovering that correcting a misdrawn runway protection zone would place the development within those areas, the city has been trying to reduce the airport’s runway lengths and limit the size of airplanes landing there, a move that would allow it to be downgraded in status.
AOPA continues to work with the FAA and local pilots and airport users to ensure that the utility and safety of the airport is preserved, and that the airport’s economic contributions are not compromised.
But so far, the city has ignored the FAA’s instructions that it cannot decrease the utility of the airport by downgrading its category. The FAA has pointed out that the golf course is on leased land, and that airport needs must take precedence. Currently, the runway protection zones for Venice’s Runway 4/22 are infringed upon by the golf course.
In a blunt letter to Venice Mayor Ed Martin, Lang said, “The city’s golf course is on federally obligated property. As such, FAA approval was required before allowing this interim, non-aviation use to exist, but our approval came with conditions. One condition was that if the FAA needs the land for aeronautical purpose, the agreement would need to be extinguished. In addition, the city must run the golf course in a manner that does not affect FAA airport design standards.”