The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) objected on Tuesday to a plan by the city council of Tracy, Calif. to shorten a runway at Tracy Municipal Airport by just a few feet. Reducing the runway length would shrink the required safety zones at the runway thresholds, AOPA officials note.
Under California airport guidelines, a 4,000-foot runway requires a safety area on both ends of the runway. By reducing the runway length, a much smaller safety zone would be required. The city of Tracy is reconstructing runway 12-30, which the FAA currently lists as 4,002 feet. The rebuilt runway, however, is planned for 3,997 feet.
AOPA made its objections known in a June 18 letter to the mayor of Tracy, Brent Ives. AOPA noted that the city will likely forego the larger safety area and could make the site available for development, which could lead to noise complaints.
“Frankly, it appears to us that the city is playing games with public safety over a difference of about 3 feet. An airport of this size deserves the added protection afforded by the larger safety areas,” wrote John Collins, AOPA’s manager of airport policy.
AOPA recommended that the City maintain the 4,000-foot runway length and the associated safety zones as a matter of prudent public policy.
“AOPA is concerned,” the letter states, “that the smaller compatible land use zones will allow more residential development closer to the airport…We see this as a detriment to normal airport and aircraft operations because it will create more noise complaints from residents in newer developments who might not otherwise have been affected by aircraft overflights. It will then fall to the City to deal with those complaints.”
AOPA’s Airport Directory states that about 114 aircraft are based at Tracy, and that the airport has about 60,000 operations a year.