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FAA eyes lower building height limit near airports

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government wants to dramatically reduce the allowable height of buildings near hundreds of airports — a proposal that is drawing fire from real estate developers and members of Congress who say it will reduce property values. (news.yahoo.com) 기타...

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It's just a shame that all airports weren't built with the foresight used with DEN. Here the airport owns all the property surrounding the runways and developers have no say whatsoever. Since we own the property and you want to develop, you do so to our (airport) regulations.

On the other hand most airports were built out in the middle of "no man's land" and now development has caught up to the area. ORD in the 1960's is a perfect example. Now the developers want to encroach on all the adjoining property which can now only be controlled by zoning regulations. Without strict enforcement a developer would build a skyscraper at the end of a runway. Who looses? The developer for getting what he wanted, the flying public who is now endangered, or the developer who looses everything because the airport decides to relocate due to massive encroachment?
Well, if they'll hang on to it, that will be fine but if memory serves correct, Stapleton was that way until one time, until the airport got in a cash crunch and started selling off with no restriction, and we see how that wound up.
Correct Preacher, but my understanding of deed restrictions during the original purchase of the land says something to the effect the land cannot be sold, only leased. This also provides them with a secondary income to support the airport.
Are you talking about Stapleton or KDEN?
LGM118 -2
That's all well and good, but we do need to consider that airports receive massive public funding for construction on the basis that they promote economic development. Airports like DEN stifle the very development that they were funded to support by pushing it too far from the site itself.

What the FAA is trying to do with the new rule change is to expand its rulemaking authority farther beyond airport properties - exercising authority far more widely. More drastically, the FAA wants to expand its authority to a wider range of existing structures. For years now, neighborhoods have put up tons of resistance to airport construction projects, so to some extent, I think the FAA is basically trying to turn the tables. They make it clear themselves through the wording of the proposed rules, "The FAA is not authorized to grant or deny construction projects. ...However, zoning authorities and private insurers may be reluctant to permit construction of the structure, given the FAA’s determination that it poses a hazard to navigation." What the FAA is saying is that they want broader latitude to nuke funding for urban development projects that they don't like.

For example, suppose a city wants to build an aerial structure as part of a transit link to a major airport. The FAA might claim that a massively more expensive underground structure is needed solely because of the potential that a plane could in a worst-case scenario run into the structure. Suddenly the city is on the hook for years of new environmental impact analysis, and will simply not build the transit line 99% of the time. There is a very real risk that the new FAA rules would be used less for making airports safe but instead as a power grab on the FAA's part to ensure they can dictate all development within large swaths of land around airports.
It is a catch 22 but I think ultimately the responsibility is with the local airport and community to maintain those clearances. An example of that going bad is San Diego and that parking garage. Granted that is primarily on approach but it still causes a seat pucker if you are in the pointey end. Not as bad as the old KaiTak but, that could just as well be on the departure end somewhere. Some communities have been successful in getting height easements on their departure paths. You really can't blame KDEN for doing as they did after they way they got boxed in at the old one
All new airports should be built like Mirabel CYMX. They had appropriated 97000ac for the airport and environs, using all but 17000ac. From t/o to six miles out, the structures were set in one mile rings - one mile out - one story.
Well, there again, I think it is all gonna go back to a local zoning type thing but probably the FAA is gonna need to have something for the locals to back it up with. There again it is gonna be a catch 22. Needful yes, whether practical or not, idk. I do think insurers and or those financing can have some influence. Developers are looking at making money. Insurers would have to pay it out if something did go sour. idk.
Sure, but in a worst case scenario, a moving plane hit a static object...the plane pays the claim.
And then we are back to that catch 22 and a bunch of I told you so's.
Somebody still dies and a plane and building(s) get tore up.
LGM118 1
A fair point Preacher, but ultimately I think that there need to be limits on what the FAA does and doesn't have a say in. I read the proposed rulemaking and it's clear to me that the FAA is trying to make sure it has a say in a very broad range of projects throughout all of the urban environment, not just in close proximity to airports.

The existing rules are already effective, the primary change seems to be that the FAA wants to use its authority to "pick winners" in city planning. The propsed rulemaking lays it out quite clearly, "This proposed policy statement addresses the
different mandates of the FAA, while recognizing the right of developers to erect structures near airports and air navigation facilities." Another way of putting it is that from the FAA's perspective, developer and city planning rights are strictly in competition with FAA mandates.

More glaring, I think that the FAA may be doing this under airline pressure:

"As long as the aircraft could operate with altered flight tracks, the FAA has not considered other potentially costly impacts to the carriers. These include...greater fuel burn, reduced payload, or reduced numbers of passengers...and the carriers have noted they are experiencing a growing erosion of capacity because of the...obstructions near airports."

That's straight from the FAA's announcement of the proposal in the Federal Register. Ultimately, what the FAA is saying is that the private airlines should be able to use the FAA as a tool for enacting urban policies that ensure airport capacity is maximized.

Look, I'll be up-front: I'm going to start working on a Masters Degree in City Planning this fall. I have a bias here. The new rulemaking does nothing more than put the desires of the airlines above the needs of entire cities. It would be the tail wagging the dog on a massive scale.
Well, as I have said from the beginning, it will be a catch 22 whichever way it goes. I am not a legal eagle and could be mistaken, but I think the current rules on height are for full power takeoffs with no problems and folks don't really seem to have a problem there. Where the problem, if there is one, has come in is that the airlines must be able to abide by single engine performance should it happen; not an unworthy thing and erring on the side of safety. That said, that is where your reduced capacity and all is coming from, the very rules that the FAA has placed on the airlines in the 1st place. Were those not in place, we probably would not be having this conversation. Everybody off with a full load of pax and fuel on a hot day. If you lost one you just do the best you can with what you got and if that ain't enough, then as city planner, you will have some clear space to clean up and deal with in the aftermath. Simple, Huh?
LGM118 2
...And Mirabel worked out well, right?

Airports are built with public money and therefore must serve a public purpose. Designing the "perfect airport for ATC" smacks of the bureaucracy crying for a big shiny new toy to play with. It's not a legitimate need, but the agency needs to justify expanded funding and other things.
If someone doesn't take control, be it the FAA, Airport Authority or local government, greed will drive developer motivation for taller and taller buildings closer to the airport. I too must agree with Preacher1.
Maybe the next-gen 797 and A390 will be V/STOL...

Then they could build skyscrapers right up to the piano-keys, and the planes could just drop right in and lift right off.
Ken Lane 1
I'd love to see a million pound VSTOL!
Talk about blowing pavers around; that'd just chunk up a runway
Excessive limiting is likely to be a non-issue, as over-regulation is considered to be a "taking", for which compensation is due. Where it gets interesting is when new runways are a possibility but not yet approved, and permits are not given. This is the kind of case which will go to the Supreme Court. Regulations imposed for safety purposes are acceptable without it being considered a "taking", but the safety concerns are likely to be judged by a court.
Besides SanDiego, are the current rules even an issue anywhere?
Quite possibly Las Vegas.

Helicopters on the Colville arrival would arrive from the west side of Mandalay Bay before landing. That would mean they'd have to have the field in sight well before being parallel to Las Vegas Blvd.

Now that there is that monstrosity that is City Center in the way, and how high it and Aria are, unless you are higher than the hotel, you'll lose line of site with the airport.
Tough titties for real estate developers. How much would a building be worth that had an airliner destructively encased inside it. Those parasites have no common sense.
Well, as I have said all along here. It's a catch 22 and common sense was replaced by greed and because I can several years ago. Property is not worth that much unless it's in the proximity of the airport and the airport can't have it too close.
NanaMcal 1
Sounds like a plan to me. It sure would take some pressure off Pilots during emergency landings or extenuating circumstances. One less obstacle. Hope they go for it.
Ken Lane 1
Just wondering... will they make any attempt to make this rule retroactive at Midway?

That's gonna take all the fun out those approaches!
The approach to Lindbergh at San Diego is scary. On descent passengers on the right side can look horizontally at apartment buildings. Then the airplane passes just above the Pacific Coast highway immediately before crossing the airport boundary. I understand that the landing threshold has been moved down the runway about 1,000 feet so that landing aircraft must maintain sufficient altitude as they fly down the hill.

It's not Kai Tak, but it's kinda like it.
It ain't got the checkerboard and the turn, but you are right, ain't a lot of difference. LOL
crk112 1
I find it funny that these property developers only think within their own box.. "oh this is going to inconvenience ME because of this and this"

OKAY... we won't do anything then. Let me know how that goes when an airplane loses and engine and takes out your building. Let me know how that goes when people die and sue you after they found out you were told this is hazardous to navigation but you did it anyway.
LGM118 1
Claims that development around major airports is a risk are specious. Name an instance in which a commercial airliner crash would have been avoided had the building it had crashed into been shorter or not present (note: acts of terrorism or other intentional acts are not relevant - this is about crashes due to mechanical failures resulting in loss of controlled flight or pilot error/weather/other resulting in controlled flight into a structure).

That the FAA is now claiming that something that has never been a safety factor is suddenly a safety factor reeks of a bureaucratic power grab (see my reply to Gene below). I do not expect the rulemaking in its current form to survive. Private developers and several congressmen are already up in arms, and I don't really see anyone rallying to the FAA's defense on this one.
I think this is more to stave off potential issues rather than address any current safety concern.

I know of more than one example where there have been zoning/building permit squabbles where a local airport authority tried to challenge the height of a building citing safety of flight, only to find out they basically had no real power to do anything about it. As a GA pilot who had a mechanical difficulty that reduced the already pathetic climb rate of a C150 even further shortly after I ran out of enough runway to put it back down, I'm rather appreciative of efforts to keep developers from encroaching on airports with taller structures.

When building safety buffers into airports, it isn't about what has happened, but preventing something from happening in the first place. Yes, someone on a normal approach will always clear buildings and other structures under the current rules, but if someone loses a cylinder or an engine at low altitude, the last thing they want to have to do is make another turn to dodge an office building that is only there because the developer got the land cheap.
You shouldnt need any examples, ONE would be too many.
The other thing to consider also is that a lot of this didn't come into play except in the last 15-20 years as the twins started hitting the market and the 3/4 engine stuff started going away.
And as most of this proposal is outbound with engine loss on twins and the twins have been around 15-20 years or more, that should tell us how far behind the curve the FAA really is. The whole industry realized the efficiencies and shortcomings of the twins a long time ago. A proactive rather than political FAA should have too. In reality, most of this will have to be handled by local zoning or planning commissions but they need some "thou shalt nots" from the feds to back them up, lest they be accused of pulling numbers out of the hinder parts.
You asked to one instance. Here are 2 in NYC alone in 2006 and 1945! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_New_York_City_plane_crash and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-25_Empire_State_Building_crash
LGM118 0
The former was in 1945 - navigation equipment is vastly improved in the modern era and with today's technology the B-25 would not have crashed into the Empire State Building.

The crash of N929CD was due to pilot error in failing to take into account the space needed to perform a turn. Yes, the height of the building was a factor, as the pilot should have taken it into account, but the same could be said for literally any building. It's like saying that all alcoholic beverages should be outlawed due to some people crashing cars on DUIs. The problem is the DUI offenders, not the alcohol itself. I should have just limited myself to examples of mechanical failure resulting in controlled flight into a structure.
DAL498 -2
but big buildings are fun near airports!! London City, John Wayne, San Diego, La Guardia, Kai Tak (closed)....these are all fucking awesome airports to fly into because of the proximity of buildings and never has a perfectly functioning plane hit a building while normally coming in to land.
Was there really a need for the profanity???
Ken Lane 1
Ditto. I felt the same when I read it.
My thoughts exactly, but here lately I have been in the minority. I guess we'll see where this one leads. Back in the day, uttering that word would get you laid out cold and there would be a ring of applause for the one that did it.


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