Airports Deal With Growing Pains

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San Antonio's Stinson Gets Upgrades ...

Stinson Municipal Airport Terminal
Business is booming at San Antonio's Stinson Municipal Airport, and now the reliever airport will get $16.7 million from the city's Department of Aviation to upgrade the facility. Planned improvements include a new administrative building, new hangars, renovation of old hangars, and runway and airfield upgrades. Stinson's runway will also be lengthened to 5,000 feet to accommodate more corporate aircraft. The runway extension and construction of the new administrative building will take place during Phase I of the project, which is slated for construction between now and 2004. Stinson Municipal Airport has reported significant increases in general aviation operations since 1998 and expects to surpass last year's figure of 165,534 operations by about 20,000 this year.

... But SMO's Landing Restrictions are Scrutinized

The FAA is determining whether or not Santa Monica Municipal Airport's (SMO) Aircraft Conformance Program violates its federal grant assurance by restricting operations based on aircraft landing speed. As offered, the program sets up severe civil and criminal penalties for violators. Airport officials deny the program is a back-door attempt at noise regulations, but the effect of the program would be to ban 50 percent of SMO's jet traffic. It follows an earlier move by the city to significantly increase fines for violating noise abatement rules. A letter from David Bennett, the FAA's director of Airport Safety and Standards, to Santa Monica Airport Manager Robert Trimborn says an investigation into the legality of the city-owned airport's program is underway and "strongly recommends" the city not consider implementing it until the investigation is complete. While the issue centers around jet aircraft access, AOPA strongly opposes these types of restrictions and has been a vocal opponent of both the noise abatement fine increase and the conformance program. "The FAA is taking its duty to enforce federal requirements very seriously," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president for regional affairs, on the AOPA Web site. "We are pleased to see the FAA acting swiftly to protect the federal investment and investigating airports that fail to follow federal rules and regulations."