Recommends Different Guidelines For Smaller Fields
A series of proposed
updates to the FAA's airspace protection regulations, as defined
under Part 77 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, has mostly met
with approval from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association...
but that's not to say AOPA doesn't have some additional suggestions
to protect smaller general aviation airports.
"AOPA generally supports the changes the FAA has proposed, but
there are some things that might have a negative affect on GA
airports," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic
services. "We're asking for additional analysis before the rule
changes become final."
Of most concern, according to AOPA, is a proposal to expand the
"imaginary primary surface" at many GA airports with nonprecision
instrument approaches. The problem with that plan -- which,
essentially, limits obstructions in a protected area surrounding
the runway -- is that it would decrease the amount of land
available for taxiways, aprons, and hangars.
AOPA also says the obstruction limits could also prevent smaller
airports from making any such improvements -- because they wouldn't
have enough space under the proposed rules. Existing structures
could also be affected -- because facilities that were once an
acceptable distances away from the runway, might now be labeled
"obstructions" under the new rules.
AOPA called for the FAA to conduct additional analysis before
implementing the rule changes.
"Simply put, smaller GA airports cannot comply financially with
the same standards applicable at larger hub airports," said the
pilot advocacy group.
AOPA also recommends the FAA reduce its obstruction
standard from 499 feet to 400 feet above the surface. AOPA says
would allow for safer operations for airspace users flying at the
500-foot minimum safe altitude in uncongested areas.
Other proposals made for Part 77 met with AOPA's approval --
such as a measure codifying the electromagnetic interference
obstruction standards to better protect aviation communication and
navigation radio transmissions.
The proposal to add obstruction protection for private-use
airports with approved instrument approach procedures also met with
AOPA's approval, along with increasing the advance warning period
for construction of or alteration to an obstructing structure from
30 to 60 days.