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Construction near runway a hazard in Beverly, MassachusettsConstruction near runway a hazard in Beverly, Massachusetts

The city of Beverly, Massachusetts, has an “unfortunate habit” of selling land to developers instead of keeping it clear of aircraft-collision hazards—and AOPA has turned to the FAA to head off the risk a construction proposal poses for flight safety.

Google image of Beverly Regional Airport in Massachusetts.

In a July 31 letter to the FAA’s obstruction evaluation group, AOPA objected to a construction project proposed for Sam Fonzo Drive that would place an office building partly inside a runway protection zone, 430 feet northeast of the approach end of Runway 27 at Beverly Regional Airport.

“As you are aware, runway protection zones exist beneath a portion of the approach closest to the airport and serve to enhance the protection of people and property on the ground and in aircraft,” wrote Sean Collins, AOPA eastern region manager. He added that compatible land use within the runway protection zone “is generally restricted to such land uses as agricultural, open spaces, and similar uses that do not involve congregations of people or construction of buildings or other obstructions.” Typically prohibited uses include “residences and places of public assembly, such as schools, office buildings and shopping centers.”

As a matter of procedure, AOPA has formally requested that the FAA conclude an airspace study by issuing a finding that the proposed construction is a hazard to air navigation. That request, if granted, would produce an “objectionable” determination for the project from the agency. Such a determination would underline the FAA’s expectation that an airport respect its obligation as a recipient of federal funds from the Airport Improvement Program to “acquire land adjacent to airports to prevent incompatible land uses.”

“Ironically, our research shows that the city of Beverly has an unfortunate habit of selling airport land to developers instead,” Collins wrote, noting that “the complacency of local leaders to allow for continued encroachment” has increased the risk for the public and those aboard aircraft operating at the municipal airport.

Collins and AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteer in Beverly, Bill Kossowan, are working to raise state and local officials’ awareness of the airspace-encroachment issue. Beverly’s airport community consists of a strong core of general aviation pilots including two active flying clubs, two flight schools, and a fixed-base operation—all of whom “provide a solid voice for local leaders to hear,” Collins 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: Advocacy, Airport Advocacy, Collision Avoidance

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