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North Las Vegas Stakeholders Create Win-Win for Pilots, Residents

EAA, AOPA, local users involved in collaborative solution

Dave Edwards
Dave Edwards  represented EAA in the North Las Vegas stakeholder group.

November 4, 2009 — A group of North Las Vegas Airport stakeholders, formed at the urging of the Nevada State Senate, issued its comprehensive report on November 1 that includes recommendations to improve safety at and surrounding the airport. Senate Joint Resolution Group 3 (SJR3), organized by the FAA and the Clark County Department of Aviation (CCDA), was formed in May 2009 to address concerns that  emerged following two August 2008 fatal aircraft accidents in the vicinity of North Las Vegas Airport (KVGT).

Dave Edwards, EAA 45325, a homebuilder and airport tenant who served as EAA’s representative in the group, said the resulting report represents a win-win for all involved. “The committee members all got along very well and agreed to focus on the real safety improvement issues at hand,” Edwards reported. “I was pleased that no one turned it into a political football.”

That was not the case immediately following the 2008 accidents, which included a Velocity homebuilt airplane’s crash into a house that killed the pilot and two people in the home.

A state senate resolution called on the Nevada congressional delegation to introduce legislation that would switch control of the Las Vegas airspace from the federal government to the CCDA, which would create a hazardous precedent regarding consistency in national airspace regulations. There were also local demands to prohibit certain kinds of aircraft operations, including amateur-built aircraft, flight training, and student solos, to the outright closing of the airport. The group’s study, however, correctly showed that such drastic steps alone would not address the overall safety goal at the airport.

“The report clearly indicates that Experimental aircraft are not a greater safety concern than other general aviation aircraft,” Edwards said.

Also serving in the stakeholder group were representatives of the City of Las Vegas, the Clark County Aviation Association, airport neighborhood residents, airport tenants, AOPA, the FAA, and CCDA.

The group’s recommendations call for strict enforcement of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), including an existing ban on experimental aircraft test flights until aircraft have completed first phase testing – either 25 or 40 hours depending on the aircraft’s engine and propeller combination. Education also plays a large role in the report. Local FAA operations inspectors, designated examiners, certified flight instructors, and the FAASTeam are required to emphasize the key accident trends noted in the recommendations: proper fuel management techniques; the effect of crosswinds; and the role density altitude plays on aircraft performance during all flight reviews and practical flight tests.

The group also called for tightening the traffic pattern in response to neighbor noise concerns, and increased density altitude awareness through FSDO safety classes and airport ATIS announcements.

The resulting document’s recommendations “will benefit both those of us who fly and those residents surrounding the airport,” Edwards said.

Proper land use adjacent to the airport is also an ongoing concern, and the group urged CCDA to purchase available vacant land adjacent to North Las Vegas Airport; enact laws prohibiting the construction of new buildings, communication towers or other obstructions in the immediate vicinity of the airport; and prohibit the further construction of residential housing or other non-compatible land uses within the immediate vicinity of the facility.

“This is a prime example of how the entire general aviation community, supported by national organizations such as EAA and AOPA, can work as one to address and solve concerns at a local airport,” added Randy Hansen, EAA government relations director. “EAA especially thanks the local EAA chapters and Dave Edwards for taking an active leadership role in finding a successful outcome.”

Previous coverage:
EAA Supporting Homebuilders’ Rights In Las Vegas Area
EAA Prepares to Act on Vegas Airports Vote
EAA Calls on Members to Help Stop Nevada’s Anti-Homebuilding Move
EAA Strongly Opposes Vegas Airports Resolution

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