"No one can say it will never happen, but from a safety standpoint, aviation is one of the safest modes of transport there is," he said. "And I think that includes people that might be injured on the ground."
McCarran protested in 2001 when the FAA eliminated the old right turn, Walker said. Since then, the county has urged the FAA "to fix the problem they created."
The current proposal would restore the efficiency lost in 2001, Walker said. But he was careful to say that the airport doesn't support this plan.
Today, the lack of the right turn means added delays. Eventually, though, Walker said, the inefficiency would reduce the number of passengers the airport could handle by about 1 million travelers per year. With the right turn, the airport projects that it will reach its limit of 53 million passengers a year in 2011.
Since debate of the plan began in November, Mayor Oscar Goodman repeatedly has said that his main concern is safety. When the FAA decided this month to allow public comment until March, Goodman said he hoped the committee would be able to provide the City Council, and eventually the FAA, with a report of concerns and questions about safety.
Although there haven't been any serious crashes at McCarran or cases of people being killed from falling plane debris in the Las Vegas Valley, Goodman has pointed to cases such as the Dec. 20 crash of a seaplane into the ocean off Miami. The crash claimed the lives of the 20 people onboard.
"Imagine if there were people under that plane," the mayor said.
Citing the need to better accommodate increasing air traffic at the nation's sixth-busiest passenger airport, the FAA restated its case to allow some eastbound planes to resume flights directly over...
A flight path challenge in Las Vegas
A petition will be filed early next week challenging the FAA's decision to send hundreds of planes a day over the northwest Las Vegas Valley.
The new flight path would send hundreds of planes per day taking off west from McCarran over the northwest Las Vegas Valley.