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Colorado Bill Working Its Way to Aviation Industry

Aero-Ignorant State Would Lock Funding For Those Who Fail to Enforce New AvGas, Noise Mitigation, and Governance Guidelines

Colorado battles over aviation in the state have continued with the latest progressive salvo, a bill titled "Reduce Aviation Impacts on Communities".

The bill includes more or less what anyone familiar with the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) battles waged near any airport with valuable real estate nearby - A handful of reasons from climate-affecting fuels and noisy aircraft to lead exposure and discrimination offer a plush toolkit to any who see aircraft and their operations as an eyesore or impediment to increased portfolio value. Some of the more amenable portions of state income tax credits to offset expenses required to convert aircraft to unleaded avgas, as well as a grant program that would fund the infrastructure to offer unleaded fuels at airports.

Where it's less popular is the increase of the Colorado aeronautical board from 7 to 9 voting members, with an inexplicably explicit mandate to include non-aviation personnel from "communities that are affected by general aviation airport traffic or traffic at a commercial airport at which there is significant general aviation activity". That's not good news for air operations, since the subset of people willing to spend their free work and time on a board for an industry they so often despise leads to nothing but more restrictions and drama at the ground level. (Or as one recently retired Colorado bureaucrat called them, 'Kooks')

The trap of the aforementioned grant program is more clear there, since the dilution of the aeronautical board with 2 hostile votes makes more sense: Disbursement of funds will be withheld from those airports who don't cede operational discretion to catty locals. The Colorado Aeronautical Board was chartered to advise state stakeholders on issues of "Aviation safety, as technical advisors, as support of government and individual aviation needs through entitlement reimbursements of aviation and fuel tax revenues and a discretionary aviation grant program." The inclusion of two mandatory non-pilots in that board seems to be at odds with good aeronautical governance.

Making it worse, another section aims to limit airports from acquiring or applying for federal funding if they are "identified as being located in a densely populated residential area or as having a significant number of flights over a densely populated residential area" unless they play ball with increasingly restrictive operational requirements.

That requirement ties airport hands into compliance with easements or contracts - thereby ensuring that those who move out next to the airport can strangle operations to the point of closure in coming years. Colorado aviators are not too pleased with the bill as a whole, and have largely called for its opposition since it appears in most ways to be little more than a present for land developers, speculators, and the obtuse homeowners who like cost of airport-adjacent housing but not what it entails (and despite the fact that their airports were often there years or decades before they got there...).

FMI: www.leg.colorado.gov

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