Topic Author
Posts: 538
Joined: Sun May 20, 2001 9:14 pm

Maintaining Obsticle Limitation Surfaces

Wed Mar 08, 2006 5:24 am

In one of my final papers for my aviation degree I'm taking airport planning. The question has come up, what can the airport do to keep the obsticle limitation areas free from obstructions? I had a think about it, and I couldn't really come up with too many answers apart from the obvious of owning the land around the airport.

Any ideas?
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2001 2:52 pm

RE: Maintaining Obsticle Limitation Surfaces

Wed Mar 08, 2006 5:42 am

Well, perhaps sometime I, or someone else, will go in depth in regard to the aviation law side of things. There have been many lawsuits and precendent set that allows the various governments to enact land use zoning laws. These laws are based on Dept. of Transportation standards set that require certain distances from an airport to remain clear of certain obstacles that are certain hieghts. Basically, once an airport has claimed residency in an area, anything built above a certain height within a distance of the field is required to obtain a permit subject to the limits of the DOT guidelines. The owner of the airport is also required to purchase land to the extent necessary to create an "easement" between the airport and other land and structures.

So, to clearify, when building a new airport, it is the airport's responsibility to find an area where existing obstructions won't interphere with flight operations. After the airport finds a home, it is then everyone elses responsibility to not get in the way of aircraft. If someone wanted to build a 500 foot tower near an airport, they would be required to get a permit to build, which would not allow them to build it in the flight path of arrivals and departures, or far enough away that it wouldn't get in the way during a normal glide path.

There are a few key court cases that will both entertain you and help you write your paper. The main one that I can think of is one involving Pittsburgh and a family who owned a house at the end of one of the runways the airport built (when the current KPIT was FIRST built). See what you can dig up.

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Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2004 9:35 pm

RE: Maintaining Obsticle Limitation Surfaces

Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:49 am

Typically an airport operator has an "Airport Land Use Commission/Group/Agenecy etc..." responsible for ensuring compatible growth around an airport and it's approach paths. The most gross example I know of can be observed at San Diego. Up until recently, the Land Use Commission was a run by a different agency than the agency charged with operating the airport. As a result, you had competing agencies approving use of land. This resulted in incompatible growth around SAN and the other airports in San Diego county over the years. From what I've read, the change has caused quite the stir as the San Diego Airport Authority now not only controls land use around SAN, but also the military bases and all the other airports in the County. The cities associated with the airports have been pitching a fit over project rejections that are incompatible with the associated airports claiming the Authority has "Overstepped its Authority". I say too bad.

The FAA doesn't do much to help the situation. I've ssen form letters over the years that read: "The approval of use resides with the local land use agency in the region, the FAA has no concerns over the proposed project. Please contact them for additional approvals. The later part being the problem. They always point out "the FAA says it's okay". Nice huh???

I'd just once like to see a letter like this:

Dear Idiot Developer,

There's an airport with an active approach and departure path over your proposed development. As such, there are inherent risks with your project, namely the safety of those in the air and on the ground. On occassion, aircraft do crash, statistically such incidents are more likely to occur within a 5 mile perimeter of said airports every 15-20 years. It has been 25 years since the last such incident at the airport in question. Please consult your insurance company for project approval.

Thank you,


[Edited 2006-03-08 01:59:03]
Topic Author
Posts: 538
Joined: Sun May 20, 2001 9:14 pm

RE: Maintaining Obsticle Limitation Surfaces

Thu Mar 09, 2006 4:55 am

Alright thanks for your replies, they're both helpful.

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