Community Wants More Restrictions at Montgomery County Airpark (VIDEO)
The Maryland Aviation Administration inspected the Montgomery County Airpark Wednesday morning and the results of that inspection are due in a few days.
Keith Miller, executive director of the Montgomery County Revenue Authority, told members of the Airpark Liaison Committee Wednesday night, that the inspection was requested by the authority in the wake of the tragic plane crash in December that killed six people. The MAA, the administration that issues the license to the Revenue Authority to operate the airpark, annually inspects the Gaithersburg airpark.
“We requested the MAA to do in interim inspection and that was conducted this morning. We anticipate the results of that inspection this week or the week after,” Miller told the group.
Miller said the authority also recently met with the Federal Aviation Administration who agreed to designate the north side of the airport as a “congested area” on flight charts starting Feb. 5 but that the designation won’t have any impact on airport operations. Miller also said the FAA was not in favor of limiting the hours the airport here is open. It is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Limiting the scope of the airport could impact federal funding, he said. That funding has ranged between zero dollars some years to $2 million other years, he told MyMCMedia. Last year, Miller said, 39 operations took place between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The authority also met with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association earlier this month to review airpark operations, according to Miller. A report from that group has not yet been submitted.
The meeting Wednesday night comes on the heels of an earlier meeting held between County Executive Isiah Leggett; Council member Craig Rice, who represents that area of the county and members of the Airpark Concerned Citizens Alliance. In that meeting, alliance spokesperson Robert Anderson expressed concerns about the number of take-off and landings completed at the airport and the lack of an updated airpark impact study that was last done about 25 years ago. The group made several requests including limiting hours at the airport and the types of aircraft that fly there.
Miller did not attend the Tuesday meeting, but said the authority is waiting on a National Transportation Safety Board review of the crash to determine if any operational changes need to be made at the airpark. That could take up to a year. He said the number of airpark operations – a take-off or landing- totaled about 50,000 last year, far less than the airpark at its busiest in 2001 when more than 160,000 operations were logged there. The drop can be attributed to post 9/11 regulations regarding restricted airspace and training requirements, Miller said.
Liaison Committee member Nancy Shenk said at the meeting she believed the community needed a public meeting to hear an update about the airpark and about the crash that killed the three aboard the jet on Dec. 8 and a mother and her two young sons who died when the plane crashed into their house.
“You have a community so distraught about what happened and to wait a year is not giving that community a change to really talk to they people they need to talk to. This is a community raw with emotion,” she said. “There has to be a meeting sponsored by the county to talk with the people of that community that includes the FAA and MAA so these organizations are made aware of our needs and what’s been going on over our houses all these years.”