FAA Advice Could Mean Aberdeen Airport Land Purchase

The Federal Aviation Administration is recommending that airports own land that falls in their runway protection zones because that's where the majority of crashes occur.

For Aberdeen Regional Airport, the north runway protection zone includes parts of two Hub City businesses: Animal Health Clinic at 704 S. Melgaard Road and the Sportsman, an outdoors equipment seller on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue Southeast and Melgaard Road.

However, buying the land is not the only option available to the city. Airport board members were told Thursday that they could move the runways south, so that the immediate protection zone would fall on land already owned by the airport.

Sam Muntean of Aberdeen's Helms and Associates engineering firm also said there are uses for land in protection zones that are compatible with FAA recommendations such as parking lots, but businesses are not the most compatible.

A study performed by the California Department of Transportation shows that most crashes occur on approach and takeoff, and the majority of those fall within the runway protection zones.

Dave Osborn, city transportation director, said the airport board and others will meet with the city council on Monday to inform the council of the recommendation, and begin discussions on how to proceed.

"The FAA basically told us, 'It's your RPZ, you should own it,' " he said.

Should the city decide to pursue buying the land, Osborn said it's possible that federal airport improvement money could be used for the purchases.

There are no cost estimates or plans in the near future to pursue purchasing the land.

The airport is given about $1 million in federal funds each year.

Next year's money has been set aside for a new snow removal equipment building, while part of the 2005 allocation has been dedicated to the demolition of the old terminal. No decisions are expected from the city council as Monday's meeting is simply to alert the council to the situation, Osborn said.

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