General Aviation's "600 Pound Gorilla" Takes On 'Tricky Dick'
AOPA, flexing its weight as the world's largest
civil aviation organization, has filed formal complaints with
both the FAA and the Illinois DoT alleging that the city of
Chicago's destruction of Meigs Field airport violated federal law
and state regulations.
"Mayor Daley landed the first punch in the latest fight over
Meigs," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But it was not a knockout
blow. Today's filings are the first of many counterpunches AOPA is
planning to win the airport's reopening."
AOPA's complaint to the FAA claims that the city of Chicago
violated both the U.S. Code and Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs)
and that the city plans to continue demolition once all aircraft
stranded by the city's actions are removed from the airport. The
U.S. Code states that an airport or landing area not involving the
expenditure of federal money may be altered substantially "only if
the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration is given
reasonable prior notice, so that the Administrator may provide
advice on the effects" of the alteration [emphasis added]. In order
for the administrator to carry out that obligation, Federal
Aviation Regulations state that anyone intending to alter a runway,
deactivate a runway or airport, or change the status of an airport
must submit notice of that intent at least 90 days prior to taking
The FARs do provide for immediate emergency action, such as in
the case of national security, which Daley is claiming. However,
even in the case of an emergency, if the airport has a charted
instrument approach, which Meigs Field does, a minimum of 30 days'
notice must be given.
AOPA is asking FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to
issue a cease and desist order to prevent further destruction of
the airport, to request the U.S. attorney general begin legal
proceedings for a similar injunction, and to take legal action
against the city for violating Federal Aviation Regulations and the
AOPA is also seeking similar relief from the State of Illinois.
State regulations require that anyone seeking to alter an existing
airport must first receive a certificate of approval from the state
department of transportation. In today's complaint, AOPA claims,
"The City of Chicago has altered and, we understand, plans to
continue to alter Meigs Field without a certificate of approval.
Because of the likelihood that the City of Chicago will continue to
alter Meigs Field, an emergency exists requiring that the Division
of Aeronautics schedule a hearing on an emergency basis to
investigate the complaint." AOPA is calling on the Illinois
Division of Aeronautics to go to court to prevent any further
destruction at Meigs.
AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization, with
nearly 400,000 members. The association is dedicated to advancing
the interests of general aviation and preventing the closure of
civil airports throughout the country. These airports are a vital
and critical component of a national transportation system.