Everywhere people are arfuing for closure of airports – based on a wide variety of “reasons”
It’s time for FAA leadership–Administrator Dickson, Chief Counsel Nichols and Airports Ass’t Administrator Griffin
To make it clear that Airports are a valued National Asset
It has taken a while for the Biden Administration to complete its FAA line-up of senior political executives. Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E., was appointed FAA Associate Administrator of Airports on June 7, 2021. Marc Nichols, on Jan. 5, 2022, was sworn in as FAA Chief Counsel after his appointment by President Joe Biden. The Administrator has been in office longer. Now he has the two critical components to assert his Airport Policy.
Their immediate attention has been focused on distributing Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds. In the interim, NIMBYs everywhere are mounting an assault on airports, particularly General Aviation facilities. Incredibly creative “airport” lawyers are employing novel tactics to destroy runways. These aviation assaults have reached a higher volume than in recent memory; perhaps due to increased neighbor sensitivity to noise and/or developers desperate for property for residential and commercial construction.
This wave, if it continues unabated, threatens the National Integrated System of Airports, which is premised on the reality
that airplanes are geographically mobile, and this national system is needed to sustain all flight. If capacity is lost at a GA airport, for example, then the traffic will move to another, likely more congested airfield.
The birthplace of this trend is Santa Monica in which the final outcome (hardly a resolution) of a decades old controversy in a “midnight agreement” by an outgoing Administrator!!!
The endemic virus has moved within California—Santa Clara’s Reid-Hillview Airport. There the opposition’s complaint is the LLG poses health risks in spite of some strong science to contrary. And there, the FAA has shown up—issuing a strongly worded letter to the airport sponsor and insinuating that the City’s position raises severe AIP compliance. The AOPA Support Airport Network is working hard to stop this.
The Los Angeles City Council was also infected by this virus, and in what appears to be a politically motivated decision, voted to close the Whiteman Airfield (WHP) in the San Fernando Valley community of Pacoima. A well-funded local group has lobbied against this PUBLIC UTILITY which has generated local jobs for almost 7 decades. The group attacks WHP because:
“We’re really trying to bring attention to the [negative] impact this airport is having on our community —
both on the standard of living, but also health-wise and the lack of productivity for our community.”
On the East Coast and chronologically earlier than RHV and again with incredibly talented legal advice, the battle over East Hampton has many layers to it. It is an airport with many location based jobs and businesses. The locals hate it because Manhattanites use it to “vacay” on the weekends. The conflict spent an inordinate amount of time and legal fees in the community’s efforts to close it:
Now the town leaders have proposed the nuclear option— ‘MEMBERS ONLY’: EAST HAMPTON AIRPORT MOVES TO PRIVATE USE. As the AOPA ASN reports
“East Hampton would operate as a publicly owned private-use facility for which prior permission is required. Consequently, the town has the authority to implement and enforce restrictions such as imposing noise limitations, prohibiting certain users, and restricting takeoffs and landings during certain times of the day. Permanent closure of East Hampton also remains on the table, but before any parameters are set, the community will have an opportunity to weigh in.”
The GA community continues to battle, THANKS.
This disease traversed the Long Island Sound to another well-utilized airport. Here, the Hartford City Council pressed ahead with forming a task force that would outline the best path forward to shuttering Brainard and options for its future redevelopment.
Obviously a desirable site for developers. The Hartford-Brainard Airport is now owned by Connecticut Airport Authority. “The CAA cannot currently afford to take the steps need to close the airport“; its Executive Director explained “ Those include repaying federal grants, conducting studies and likely dealing with claims from the current tenants.” The CAA’s website adds the following information about this airport:
(KHFD) is a public use, publicly owned airport situated on 201 acres, located in the City of Hartford, just 3 miles from the downtown business district. It is the premier general aviation facility serving central Connecticut in the county of Hartford. The airport is designated as a Regional GA Airport and also a Reliever Airport in the FAA’s National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). This means the airport can relieve congestion at nearby commercial service airports including Bradley International Airport, thereby providing improved general aviation access to the overall community…
The CAA also owns Bradley Field and 5 GA airports Danielson; Groton-New London; Hartford-Brainard; Waterbury-Oxford and Windham. The assurances made as to KHFD run to the same sponsor as BDL and the other GA facilities; closing an important GA airport will lessen the sponsor’s access to discretionary AIP dollars and might impinge upon its entitlement eligibility.
AOPA ASN and a new group, Hartford Brainard Airport Association, are engaged in defending this valuable aviation infrastructure. A PREEMPTIVE FAA intervention would be an clarion local and national statement by the Dickson-Nichols-Griffin team.
DEFEND GA AIRPORTS should become a 2022 Goal for these leaders. The AGC-1 has already stated that his agency has Turbulence Ahead. After re-reviewing recent court cases of the FAA’s preemption powers, he might suggest that these decisions embolden him to aggressively protect airports.
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