Sept. 18, 2014
Contact: Steve Hedges
FREDERICK, Md. – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and three other general aviation groups have urged key members of the U.S. Senate to forgo legislation that could close St. Clair Municipal Airport (K39) near St. Louis, and instead follow established Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) procedures for the potential closure of airports that have accepted federal grants.
In a Sept. 16 letter, AOPA President Mark Baker and the other aviation groups told U.S. Senators John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, that a bill in their committee could improperly close the airport.
“As you know, this legislation would close the St. Clair Regional Airport, in St. Clair, Missouri,” the letter states. “As representatives of the general aviation community, we have serious concerns about closing and further limiting access to general aviation airports across the country, especially through legislation.”
In addition to Baker, the presidents of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association and National Air Transportation Association signed the letter.
U.S. Senate Bill 2759 would, “release the City of St. Clair, Missouri, from all restrictions, conditions, and limitations on the use, encumbrance, conveyance, and closure of the St. Clair Regional Airport.” It was passed by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on a voice vote Wednesday and next will go before the full Senate.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D-Mo.). The City of St. Clair has sought to close the airport and make that land available for commercial development, according to news reports.
The FAA is conducting a review of the city’s request to close the field since the city has previously accepted FAA airport improvement funds. The airport has been in operation since 1965.
“There is already a process established by statute under the Airport Improvement Program Grant Assurances requirements for the closure of airports like St. Clair that have received federal funding,” the letter states. “The review of the St. Clair airport closure is already underway and we would respectfully request that the established FAA process move forward with a decision in a timely manner. It is our belief that this course will better balance the legitimate interests of the local community, aviation users, and the federal government.”
Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. AOPA is the world’s largest aviation member association, with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., and seven regions across the United States. AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, flight planning products, safety programs and award-winning media. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.
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