Letter to the editor: Airport tracking system was right move
April 30, 2009
Let’s put a few more facts on the table-regarding the recent decision of the Airport Board to install the Track System. First, kudos to the board for doing what no previous airport board ever did prior to the election of the “non pilots” to that board.
They did more than two years of study and fact finding, held a separate meeting with pilots. Then held two community meetings, they put up signs in neighborhoods but also mailed invites, something never done by previous all-pilot boards that liked to keep things below the radar.-
I attended both community meetings. Here’s a rundown of those meetings: it was clearly stated before the first meeting (without the board present) started that this was for non-pilots to learn and speak their opinions of the Track System. Ppilots tried to take over the meeting and dominate the hearing.
A second meeting was held, with the board present, that allowed the community to speak. We learned that the system was not being presented to be just a noise abatement system, but much more versatile, as-board member Kathy Egan pointed out. It would, as a government agency, provide data for the airport to help it be accountable in an audit of airport operations, as well as tracking in coming and out going aircraft.
Now at these meetings, pilots offered up options for spending the money in a different manner. Keep in mind this is local taxpayer funds. First up, use these funds to provide discount fuel for “good-pilots” and my personal favorite, reimburse pilots with discounts for shopping locally, a pilot stimulus-package.
The bottom line is that if this money was to be spent on let’s say, more hangers, at taxpayers expense, for private aircraft, you would not hear one peep of discontent from the flying community.
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On a safety note, this system requires that aircraft be equipped with transponders that ID aircraft. Not all aircraft are required to have, not only to the system, but are a part of a system that allows aircraft to see each other in flight. Some pilots stated they would turn off their transponders to defeat the airports tracking them, says volumes about the mentality of pilots that would act this way.
The Board made the right decision, and that decision was strongly supported by the airport management, based on statements made at the community meetings.