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PRESERVATION OF SAFE AIRSPACE BILL

PRESERVATION OF SAFE AIRSPACE BILL

The “Preservation of Safe Airspace” bill is common sense legislation needed to ensure the safety of the public – including pilots, passengers, neighbors and surrounding communities.  Recognizing that one cannot have safe airports without ensuring safe airspace, the bill provides a statewide solution to address airspace obstructions by clarifying state law, as consistent with federal law, while improving airspace protection coordination among local, state and federal jurisdictions for publicly owned airports. 

Under federal law, when obstructions threatening safe airspace are encountered, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) is required to mitigate such obstructions.  The majority of obstructions identified at Rhode Island Airports (of which there are six that RIAC operates), are trees that have been allowed to grow over a period of decades.  If an obstruction/tree is identified on a private property near an airport, RIAC is required to follow a FAA prescribed process to enter into negotiations with landowners to negotiate a fair and equitable compensation for airspace easements which allows for trees to be cut and/or removed. 

RIAC has been very successful in engaging and negotiating necessary airspace easements with a vast majority of property owners in Westerly and Newport.  However a small percentage of property owners unfortunately, have filed suit, resulting in more than three years of ongoing litigation while airspace-obstructing trees have continued to grow. 

Because RIAC is required to mitigate obstructions, without the ability to remove the trees, RIAC has had to displace runway ends (in essence shorten runways) as the only remaining method of mitigation.  This has occurred at Westerly State Airport and will soon be occurring at Newport State Airport.  Quite simply, if no action is taken to correct this issue, airport runways will continue to be effectively shortened until they can no longer safely accommodate takeoff and landing. 

Although the Airport Corporation remains confident that the public’s interest of preserving safe airspace will be affirmed by the courts, RIAC is seeking the passage of S0259/H6067, which will address airspace obstructions by clarifying state law as consistent with federal law.  Below is additional information regarding the bill as well as documented Town and City support or opposition for the bill.

2020 -- S 2547aa As Amended on 7-13-20

RIAC ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FORS2547/H7900 “PRESERVATION OF SAFE AIRSPACE” BILLS

2020 -- S 2547 AnAct Relating to Aeronautics – Airports and Landing Fields – Airport Zoning

2020 – H 7900 AnAct Relating to Aeronautics – Airports and Landing Fields – Airport Zoning

TOWN AND CITY LETTERS OF SUPPORT

Blackstone Valley Tourism

Block Island Tourism Council Letter of Support

New Shoreham Letter of support

North Kingston Letter of Support

TOWN AND CITY LETTERS OF OPPOSITION

https://clerkshq.com/Content/Attachments/Middletown-ri/200316_10.pdf?clientSite=Middletown-ri
City of Warwick’s concerns

STAKEHOLDER LETTERS OF SUPPORT

Skydive Newport Letter of Support

AOPA Letter of Support

Flight Level Letter of Support

RIPA Letter of Support

Federal Aviation Administration Letter of Support

Newport Helicopter Tours Letter of Support

R.Langseth Letter of Support

Dooney Aviation Letter of Support

PERSERVATION OF AIRSPACE BILL PRESS

https://www.newportthisweek.com/articles/proposed-legislation-creates-airspace-easements/
https://www.newportthisweek.com/articles/communities-should-decide-scope-of-airport/
https://www.newportthisweek.com/articles/consensus-of-community-will-be-respected/
https://www.thewesterlysun.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letter-riac-focused-on-preserving-safe-airspace/article_4a322914-6fef-11ea-bc1c-1fe75f386b58.html
NK supports passage of airspace preservation bill
http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText21/SenateText21/S0259.pdf
http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText21/HouseText21/H6067.pdf