National Legislation May Improve State's Aviation Industry

Article excerpt

Activity on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., probably is going to improve Oklahoma's aviation industry.

At least planners on the state level feel that way.

Two bills which give rise to that feeling are the General Aviation Development Act and the Airport Improvements Plan, contained in funding for the Federal Aviation Administration's budget for Fiscal Year 1995 which begins Oct. 1.

Most people tend to discount Oklahoma's benefit from aviation tort reform, which limits product liability cases to 18 years after manufacture, because there's little aviation manufacturing in the state.

Biggest impact, though, says aviation system planner Bob Jardee of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, will be on the state's airports.

"Simply because there's going to be an increase in manufacturing in other states, means there will be more airplanes to use our airports," Jardee said. "That's going to result in a major impact on facilities and maintenance."

Already Jardee is in the process of developing a demand analysis of the state's aviation system.

"(The analysis) will show Oklahoma counties demand data useful in determining airport priorities in the (commission's capital improvements plant)," he said. "(It will) show recent population shifts by county (and) economic growth trends in the state by county."

The $4,980 cost for the study, which will be given to all sponsors of publicly owned airports in the state for their planning purposes, will come from the $12 million Oklahoma is receiving from the Airport Improvements Plan.

Another portion of the system includes developing a state master plan for updating and modernizing five publicly owned airports, expanding other airports and assisting with site selection and planning of new airports.

"The Oklahoma System Plan (contains) a capital improvement program for approximately 105 of the state's 400 airports," Jardee wrote in a report to the FAA. "From the airport development needs, a five-year capital improvement program is assembled that represents national and state priorities as well as the anticipated financial assistance available for federal- and state-funded projects.

"The goal of the Oklahoma System Plan is to identify a system of aviation facilities to meet national and state needs for capacity and access, and to develop a program for facility improvements that will enable them to perform their system role."

While Oklahoma has 400 airports, only 105 of them are in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, Jardee said.

"We plan to hold a series of regional meetings so that we can get as much public involvement in this planning process as possible," Jardee said. "We, naturally, want the airport sponsors, FBOs (fixed base operators, sort of on-airport service stations), airport managers, pilots, businesses and other airport users involved as much as possible. But we also want the public, the people who are paying and benefiting from these airports, to give us their input also.

"This is already being accomplished by other states; it's a regular part of the planning for the national system."

Planning meetings such as these help develop the five-year capital improvements program, according to the commission's airport engineer, William J. …