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Power line extension would encroach on Virginia airportPower line extension would encroach on Virginia airport

A high-voltage power line extension proposed for construction less than a mile off the main runway of a Virginia airport would compromise safety and jeopardize the airport’s future development, AOPA said in a letter to regulators.

Stock photo of a Cessna 172 landing over power lines.

Appalachian Power Co. is seeking to build the power line off the end of Runway 6/24 at Virginia Highlands Airport in Abingdon. At a height of 100 feet agl, the 138-kilovolt power line, to be supported by 125-foot-tall towers, would reduce safety margins for aircraft on approach, wrote Sean Collins, AOPA eastern regional manager, in a letter to Virginia’s State Corporation Commission.

Placing the obstruction within the lateral area of the airport traffic pattern and perpendicular to a distressed aircraft’s flight path would be “a recipe for collision,” Collins wrote on behalf of AOPA’s 10,000 members in Virginia.

He called on the state officials weighing the plan to act to protect the airport, its users, and its neighbors, pointing out that the FAA—which is conducting an airspace obstruction study—“has no direct authority to prevent such utility projects from moving forward despite the negative safety implications.”

The Virginia Highlands Airport Authority also has submitted testimony concerning the plan’s adverse impact on the airport. Hearings on the matter have not yet been held.

The case, Collins said, is a reminder to AOPA members of the need to work with airport and community leaders to promote and protect general aviation airports “as the vital assets they are.”

“Incompatible land-use issues are increasing in frequency. Although a hazard determination by the FAA may affect questions of liability, designating the hazard does not prevent an obstruction from being created, so it is incumbent on pilots and the aviation community to work with airport and community leaders to protect their airports with proper zoning,” he said.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airport Advocacy, Obstruction Hazards, Airport

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