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.
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.
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.