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EAA Prepares to Act on Vegas Airports Vote

Aviation director wants to ban homebuilts at VGT

North Las Vegas Airport

December 2, 2008 — EAA is prepared to activate its federal government lobbying machinery as the Clark County, Nevada, Board of Commissioners today considers questions about the county's management of airport operations. Local aviation authorities in the county, which encompasses the greater Las Vegas area, are asking the Board to pursue federal legislation that would give them the authority to determine what aeronautical activities are permitted at each airport within the Clark County Airport System.

Clark County Director of Aviation Randall H. Walker is scheduled to petition the Board of Commissioners to approve a resolution asking Nevada's Congressional delegation to introduce federal legislation.

Walker's proposal is in response to accidents occurring in the past year near North Las Vegas Airport (VGT), namely one this past August in which a Velocity amateur-built aircraft struck a house shortly after takeoff, resulting in the death of the pilot and two people on the ground. In the immediate aftermath, Walker called on FAA and Congress to allow metropolitan airports to bar experimental-category operations at their facilities, including amateur-built aircraft operations.

EAA President Tom Poberezny responded immediately with a letter to Walker strongly opposing such a move, stating that eliminating experimental aircraft from the airport to enhance its safety record would be unjustified.

A story published this past Sunday in the Las Vegas Review Journal quotes EAA’s Earl Lawrence, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, who said the prospects of a proposal to allow county authorities to ban homebuilts at North Las Vegas would be remote because the proposal would require the FAA to surrender its authority for air safety in interstate and international commerce.

"You would be allowing an airport manager to determine on his own what could come and go," he said. "What he is asking is that Congress, the President, and the administration give up the authority. That's a pretty good stretch."

Nonetheless, Lawrence said his team is prepared to roll out strong opposition if such a proposal should make its way to the Hill. In such circumstances, the EAA team would assert that the FAA's authority should be left intact so that the agency's thousands of employees charged with ensuring the safety of pilots, aircraft, and people on the ground can continue to perform their jobs nationwide without interference from a local authority.

He said passing legislation as Walker envisions would have a cascading effect, with airport managers in other urban areas seeking similar measures to usurp FAA authority on what type of planes can fly where and when.

EAA will have more information as it becomes available.

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