AOPA objects to city “playing games” with California runway project

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.

Comments

  1. Greetings Greg W.

    Ever flown across the Country on business or just to go on a vacation? Ever watch the TV news about someone being flown to a medical facility for life threatening emergency medical treatment after a car crash. Do you have a family member, or have a friend that needed medical treatment in the Bay area or Los Angeles, and was flown by a local pilot for free? Have you ever eaten fruit or vegetables grown just down the highway from you, and it is safe due to crop dusting? Have you recently received a UPS or FedEx package at your door step? Have you ever seen law enforcement chase down a criminal on the highway or in a local neighborhood via a highway patrol airplane or helicopter? Do you remember the earthquake in Watsonville several years ago when all the roads were blocked and aircraft provided medical, water and food relief to residents of that town? Or the fires in South Lake Tahoe when fire fighting operations out of the airport literally saved the town? Did you maybe follow the Space shuttle program, watching that system deploy and retrieve countless people, satellites, Hubble telescope, and discover things in outer space that have improved your life? Did you watch the movie Top Gun on your wide screen TV with surround sound? I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you with the reality of what airports have done, are currently doing, and will do for YOU.

    Wow, I almost forgot. You don’t like things that fly through the air. You don’t like the people that learn to fly objects through the air that make you and your families, and humanity’s life better?

    What? You do like, or know about, or have and do benefit from some or all those things I listed above? Oh, you do understand that all those flying objects need pilots, and that all those pilots had to learn basic flight instruction in small airplanes at small airports LIKE TRACY AIRPORT?

    I get it now. It’s just that you don’t want all those things provided to you and humanity by YOUR airport. The airport that is selfishly taking up all that land, when houses and other structures could be using it for the betterment of mankind? Could it be that possibly you have a special interest in potential housing development near the airport, and it’s standing in your way?

    I suggest you go out to the airport, grab one of the local pilots and ask for an airplane ride. I’ll bet he or she would be delighted to take you up if you ask nicely. That way, once up in the air, you can gain a better perspective of just how much undeveloped land there is surrounding Tracy, and leave the airport alone. General aviation, general aviation pilots, commercial aviation and military and space pilots, and definitely general aviation airports, such as your very own Tracy airport, serve you and America very well, so look elsewhere.

    Mitch Latting
    Vice President, Region 3
    California Pilots Association

  2. Paul Peterson says:

    Hope to see some follow-up on this. This is the first news I’ve heard about this development.

  3. Sounds like a typical opinion of an airport taking up valuable space. If encroachment leads to noise problems then it can always be closed. Many sponsors (airport owners) do not really want the airport any more. If you really want to close an airport, statistically the thing to do is create an “airport board” to run it, and the process will start almost immediately. Airports do not “need” to keep growing to stay viable however normal business/civic planing is that they do have to and this leads directly to conflict as well.

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