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AVmail: October 4, 2010

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Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Why Through-The-Fence Agreements Work

The argument that federal funds should not subsidize airport use by residential through-the-fence users can be negated by ensuring those users pay their fair share for access to the airport. Fair share could be construed as equivalent to a based aircraft tiedown fee. This is not altogether different from charging a commercial through-the-fence user the same access fee. Also, through-the-fence users should not be allowed to store their own fuel but rather purchase from the FBO at the airport.

On another issue, it is hard to imagine that residential through-the-fence users would complain about aircraft noise impacts. People in glass houses don't throw stones.

Security issues at general aviation airports have been an issue that is still unresolved. Somehow, as an industry, we need to know that those obtaining access to the airside are trusted to be there. Through the fence users can be cleared by law enforcement. Their passengers cannot be treated that way, so the aircraft operator must assume that responsibility. Isn't that what is done at general aviation airports now? It should apply to through-the-fence users as well.

There is a simple way to allow any type of through-the-fence users at federally obligated airports, if those responsible for policy will just think it through. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Ronald Price

Why They Might Not

I do hope you'll give equal time to the other respondents at the hearing, Russ. This is a complicated issue and all sides deserve to be heard in order that a reasonable solution can be reached. If you know airports, then you know that [Acting Associate Administrator for Airports] Catherine Lang has been a tireless proponent for airport development and a voice of reason in the FAA.

I've read her testimony and that of the others and I think Dr. Blue has portrayed a sensationalist view of what was said and unfairly characterized it in order to further his own position. There are good points on both sides of this issue. Let's try and listen to them all so we can find the best solution for all.

Greg Phillips

If a person or corporation owns private property that adjoins an airport, the government will need to acquire the property for expansion in any case, either through purchase or eminent domain. The existing use of the property is moot.

To deny the owner of private property adjacent to a publicly funded airport is the same as denying driveway access to the street. Access to the national transportation infrastructure is being restricted.

The access infrastructure costs, taxiway extensions fencing, gates etc. should be borne by the private landowners.

The private landowners accessing the airport through the fence should pay fees to the airport equivalent to tie down and fuel flowage fees which are traditional sources of airport maintenance funds.

Well done through the fence agreements could increase airport utilization with no increase in costs.

J. T. Blimling

Limiting or eliminating TTFs will, according to the FAA and NATA, encourage or at least not limit airport expansion and development. Rubbish! What airport development and expansion? There certainly isn't any anywhere near to where I live. There is, however, airport elimination, and that is becoming the norm throughout the U.S.

As an example, a small airport in the northwest corner of Connecticut (the only paved runway in the entire northwest corner of the state) was closed. It was eligible for federal and state development funding but was closed instead by fear-mongering neighbors (who moved in long after the airport was in operation).

It could have been developed as a small municipal airport, a legitimate fly-in community or as a TTF upon which property values of these hostile neighbors would have soared. NIMBY is alive and well in CT. In the right circumstance, TTFs could actually save an otherwise doomed airport and they don't build any more airports in the Northeast U.S., just turn them into corn fields or condos. The FAA and NATA are not living in the real world.

Hal Mandly

I see no reason why a properly planned and managed through the fence arrangement can't work at general aviation airports. In fact, access agreements, business arrangements, and access fees may be what saves a number of our dwindling airfields.

The issue is maintaining public access and adequate growth potential. What we do want to avoid is the continued conversion of public assets (built and maintained with public funds) to private control and or ownership (still maintained with public funds.)

Go to the Citizens for Lake Texoma web site to read about one such process.

Dave McGhee

Typical federal government B.S. Turn a blind eye toward a porous border but enact rules to limit access to those who have a legitimate need of a facility.

As Bill Lear so aptly put it, "the FAA is nothing more than a carbuncle on the ass of progress and has set aviation back at least 20 years."

Marion Seckinger

I live on a residential airpark, thankfully a private, public use one. I have looked at airparks all over the country, and my informed opinion is that this is yet another case of the FAA and the US government creating the illusion of a problem where one does not exist.

Besides the obvious point that pilot neighbors are unlikely to complain about noise, we also keep close tabs on the activity at our airport, 24 hours a day. Security? You bet. With all the real and serious problems confronting our country today, it defies logic to understand why our esteemed leaders think this is an important issue to waste time on. Amazing. Another example of ever-expanding power of the federal government as it intrudes ever deeper into our lives.

Bill McClure


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