AOPA is encouraging passage of a Maryland bill that would provide state aviation officials with an air-safety exemption to a forest conservation law that controls the cutting or clearing of trees.
House Bill 238 would extend an exemption that already empowers the FAA to remove trees determined to be a hazard to air navigation to the Maryland Aviation Administration. The bill was introduced on Feb. 2, and has been assigned to the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
The proposed exemption to the Maryland Forest Conservation Act is needed at the state level of government because the scope of the FAA’s authority to determine an air-safety hazard leaves some airports and users vulnerable.
"While the FAA’s hazard determinations can be helpful in preventing certain airspace obstructions, the FAA is fairly limited with regard to its involvement with non-grant obligated airports, such as most privately owned, public-use airports," said Jared Esselman, AOPA director of state government affairs. "Amending the Forest Conservation Act to extend the same exemption to the Maryland Aviation Administration will improve the safety and utility of the state’s airport system because the Code of Maryland Regulations takes a more comprehensive approach to dealing with obstruction hazards," he said.
Esselman and John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, attended a committee session on the bill. The association will also submit a letter of support to the committee, Esselman said.
"AOPA, the Maryland Airports Managers Association, the aviation industry, and state officials agree that this exemption is a necessary tool for Maryland to ensure the safety and adequate management oversight of the state’s airports," he said.