by Yasmina Platt, Manager
AOPA Central Southwest Region
It has certainly been a busy year so far for the AOPA Central Southwest Region, where we are working on 34 active state bills. Let me just highlight two here. Nebraska’s LB140, sponsored by Robert J. “Bob” Krist, intends to extend the approach zones from the current three (3) miles to 10 miles from the end of every IFR runway in Nebraska to improve safety. This compatible land-use regulation was heard by the government, military, and veterans affairs where I testified in favor of the bill. In addition, we would like to amend LB551 to include aviation as a recreational activity in the state’s Recreational Use Statute (RUS).
One of the biggest issues we are facing now is a federal issue that is going to affect us all starting in April, and unless Congress and the President find an alternative, for many years to come. As I write this on March 1, the so-called “sequestration” goes into effect. In case you don’t know by now, this is the legislative requirement that dictated across-the-board cuts of $85 billion in federal spending. For the Central Region, it means airport impacts, employee furloughs, selective repairs of navigation aids, etc. I will focus here on the airport impacts seen in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa as outlined by the FAA.
• Seven (7) airports in Kansas will see permanent closures of ATC towers: FOE, GCK, HUT, IXD, MHK, OJC, and TOP. In addition, the Wichita (ICT) tower will see their midnight shift cut.
• Missouri is expected to forgo the towers in five (5) airports (BBG, COU, JEF, JLN, and STJ) and an additional two (2) towers (MKC and SGF) will lose their midnight shift.
• The tower at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport (GRI) in Grand Island will close and Omaha’s Eppley Airfield will lose its overnight shift.
• Three (3) towers in Iowa, those at ALO, DBQ, and SUX airports, will be closed and the FAA will also cut the overnight shift at the Des Moines (DSM) tower.
On a more positive note, the FAA and the Missouri Department of Transportation put on hold St. Clair, Missouri’s five-year effort to close St. Clair Regional Airport (K39) until the city lives up to its obligations under federal grant assurances and resolves formal and informal complaints brought against the city. AOPA and local pilots have fought the city’s efforts since 2008.
I am still planning on participating in the Missouri and Iowa Aviation Conferences in April, and the Kansas Aviation Conference in June. All three of these conferences are organized by their respective state aviation offices and airport organizations. Iowa celebrated “Transportation Day at the Capitol” on January 30. Missouri will hold its Aviation Day at the Capitol on April 9.
To stay abreast of what is happening in your region or when I will be in your area, visit http://www.aopa.org/advocacy/airports/region/southwest.html, where you can read current stories and blogs, as well as view the region’s Twitter feed. You can find my email there as well: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last but not least… if you have not yet marked your calendar for the “AOPA Summit,” now is the time to do so. It will be in Fort Worth, Texas, October 10-12, 2013. FMI: http://www.aopa.org/summit/