Progress Report on Call to Action Regarding Nevada Airspace Proposal:
Please stand down for now, pending new collaboration for solution
February 14, 2009 — Amid vocal protest from the state’s aviation community, the two Nevada state legislators who submitted a resolution calling for county-government jurisdiction over national airspace have agreed to suspend their legislative effort and instead work with local general-aviation groups on airport-safety issues there. Consequently, a hearing on the proposed legislation slated for Feb. 17 has been postponed.
In light of this favorable development, EAA asks members to defer any further participation in the Call to Action letter-writing campaign that EAA issued Thursday. Commending the hundreds of members who responded, EAA is now asking members to stand down and await the outcome of talks among these Nevada state legislators, state and county aviation officials, local EAA chapters, AOPA, and the Clark County Aviation Association (CCAA).
“We’re hopeful that the local collaborative effort will yield a better understanding of the safety issues at North Las Vegas Airport. We’re looking for real solutions that neither jeopardize our federal airspace-management standards nor scapegoat any particular category or class of general-aviation operations,” said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of regulatory affairs.
The lawmakers’ proposed resolution stemmed from controversial action taken last year by the Clark County, Nevada director of aviation, Randall H. Walker. In the wake of recent fatal airplane crashes originating from North Las Vegas Airport, Walker successfully petitioned the Clark County Board of Commissioners to urge state lawmakers to push Congress for local airspace sovereignty. One of the crashes involved a Velocity amateur-built aircraft that struck a house shortly after takeoff and resulted in the death of the pilot and two people on the ground. In the immediate aftermath, Walker called on FAA and Congress to allow metropolitan airports to bar “high risk” operations at their facilities, including amateur-built aircraft and flight instruction.
Since then, EAA has been supporting the grassroots efforts of the CCAA and local general-aviation groups in mounting opposition and pointing out several flight safety misconceptions in Walker’s and the Clark County Board’s argument. One “apples and oranges” example is their claim that since 2003 there have been 20 accidents involving amateur-built aircraft within Clark County. But looking only at VGT, three accidents involving amateur-built aircraft have occurred in the past 26 years, while during that same time more than 50 accidents involving type-certificated aircraft occurred.
EAA’s Washington representative, Doug Macnair, has also been in discussions with members of the U.S. House and Senate, warning of the potential cascading effect that would result by allowing local airport managers in other urban areas to control their airspace.
Please stay tuned to the EAA website (www.eaa.org) and EAA’s e-Hotline weekly newsletter for news of further developments and any further recommendations from EAA Regulatory Affairs.