FAA grant funds study of Anchorage's general aviation needs

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
A $450,000 grant by the Federal Aviation Administration to the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to study the patterns and use of general aviation facilities in the greater Anchorage area is under way.

transportation.jpg "This study will include all general aviation, including (ultralights)," said Patty Sullivan, an FAA airport planner.

The study, called the Area General Aviation System Plan, is to identify future needs for general aviation facilities and services in the Anchorage area and is to be finished in 18-24 months, according to FAA and state DOT officials.

The two agencies and consultants are seeking input from pilots and aircraft owners, as well as managers and owners of businesses at airports in the Anchorage area.

Alternatives will be developed and evaluated to handle future general aviation needs. They will then be put into an implementation plan that will determine how to fulfill the needs, according to Diana Rigg, a transportation planner for the state DOT.

The system plan was initiated in early 1998 with a survey of 2,000 area general aviation pilots by DOT.

Last November a technical advisory committee was assembled, composed of representatives from DOT, FAA, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Merrill Field, Birchwood Airport, the Municipality of Anchorage, the military, aircraft owners, pilots, airport users and other interested parties, as well as other government agencies.

Sullivan, Rigg and Carl Seibe, a state transportation department airports engineer, made presentations at an introductory meeting Jan. 31. Increased aviation activity at all area airports is driving the study, according to Rigg.

Airspace use, runway conditions and construction, additional float ponds for seaplanes, increased use at airports like Birchwood and Campbell Creek Airstrip, and additional float tie downs at Lake Hood were discussed.

At the meeting, John Sanders, a consultant with Aires Consultants Ltd., a California-based firm specializing in airport and aviation planning studies, laid out the plan for the study.

"What we hope to do is take your input, along with an inventory of the local facilities and their environmental condition and come up with plan to make improvements to the current infrastructure," Sanders said. Public input by all users is necessary for the study to work, added Sullivan.

"There is a six-month to a year waiting list for a slip at Lake Hood. If we had two more floatplane facilities in Anchorage, that would not be enough," said Bob Miller, a Cessna 185 floatplane pilot. "They are going to hear more from me."

To voice your ideas and needs, contact Diana Rigg, Anchorage area planner, P.O. Box 196900, Anchorage, AK 99519-6900. Her phone is 907-269-0515, fax is 907-269-0521 and e-mail is ([email protected]).

02/17/2001 - 8:00pm