Photo | Jimmy Haller

Montgomery County Airpark Liaison Committee to Discuss Plane Crash

A meeting of the Montgomery County Airpark Liaison Committee is set for Jan. 28 to talk about the tragic December 8th plane crash that killed six people.  But Montgomery County Revenue Authority Executive Director Keith Miller said he doesn’t believe there will be any changes to Airpark operations until the Authority gets a final accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).photo of Airpark plane down

“As you know every indication from NTSB so far is that the airpark played no role in the accident at all,” Miller told MyMCMedia Wednesday.

On Dec. 8 a jet traveling from North Carolina to the Montgomery County Airpark, crashed in a Gaithersburg neighborhood. Three on the ground were killed and all three onboard the jet died in the crash.

A local group called the Concerned Citizens Alliance says its been pressing county leaders for tighter controls on who flies in and out of the airport and more safety precautions for a growing residential community that surrounds it. County Executive Isiah Leggett has called for a review of the airport’s operations by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority.

The accident is still under “active investigation” by the National Transportation Safety Board, according to spokesman Eric Weiss. Miller said he believes it could a year before the NTSB report is completed.

“It is concerning that people are speculating the cause. I was there and it impacted me and everyone. We owe it to the community to review what is going on; but we also can’t make any sudden changes,” Miller said.

Miller said the Revenue Authority has requested the Federal Aviation Administration, Maryland Aviavtion Administration and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association review the airpark’s operation to ensure it complies with all regulations.

According to Miller, the latest information shows the airpark averages 60,000 operations- a take off or landing- last year. At its busiest in 2001, the airpark logged more than 160,000 operations. The drop can be attributed to post 9/11 regulations regarding restricted airspace and training requirements, Miller said.

The Montgomery County Airpark is a pilot controlled airpark meaning pilots communicate with one another on a radio frequency. In addition, all flights have to register with Potomac Consolidated TRACON, an air traffic control service. According to Miller, most airparks of equal size to Montgomery County are pilot controlled.

“We have to look at what is really the cause of this accident. Was there something at the airpark that caused this horrific accident? Any fatality is tragic and when you have an accident like this let’s sit back and take a look and review and see if there are any changes that need to be made,” Miller said.

The Revenue Authority is a quasi-governmental agency. The Montgomery County Airpark is owned and operated by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority. The MCRA, created in 1957, is a public corporation established to construct, improve, equip, furnish, maintain, acquire, operate, and finance projects devoted wholly or partially for public good, use, or general welfare. A six-member Board of Directors governs the MCRA.

The MCRA holds a 99-year lease for the airpark to MC Airpark Inc. The airpark operations are controlled by DC Metro Inc. Revenue is generated by aircraft storage fees and a fee per gallon of gas pumped at the airpark. There is no take off or landing fees, something requested by the Concerned Citizens Group.

The Jan. 28 meeting of the Airpark Liaison Committee meeting starts at 4 p.m. in the Montgomery County Council Building’s 6th Floor Conference Room. It is open to the public.

Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


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