Scottsdale proposal would allow 100,000-pound planes

By Curtis Riggs | May 20, 2009

SCOTTSDALE – An aviation consultant’s proposal to allow heavier airplanes to land at Scottsdale Airport is being seen as the next step before commercial air service.

Even though Scottsdale City Councilman, and flight instructor, Bob Littlefield thinks the proposal from Wilbur Smith Associates is “not going anywhere,” plenty of residents in Ironwood Village, Sinquadados and other north Scottsdale neighborhoods are not so sure. They consider the upcoming Airport Advisory Commission discussion of the consultant’s suggestion on July 8 and the Scottsdale City Council consideration of the matter in August or September proof the city council intends to allow the heavier planes.

airplanesWhile the runway at Scottsdale Airport can accommodate planes as heavy as 100,000 pounds, city officials have restricted the airport to planes heavier than 75,000 pounds at takeoff. The restriction has been in place since the 1970s because of noise complaints from Scottsdale residents.

Ironwood Village resident Bob Popow points out people in this neighborhood already have to put up with “very low, very loud” airplanes.

“Constant aircraft landings and take-offs are the problem … size in this case … is relevant but not the overall factor,” Popow said.

John Hoeppner was founder of the Quiet Skies group which opposed increases in aircraft noise and numbers when the Northwest 2000 plan to shift commercial flight paths over Cave Creek and Carefree several years ago.

“It’s the same stuff every few years; the city hires a consultant to tell them what they want to hear,” Hoeppner said, adding city officials want to change the balance between expansion of the airport with the needs of the community. “I doubt if they asked anyone at Ironwood Village or Sinquadados. At the end of the day this is about trying to bring commercial air service into Scottsdale.”

According to Littlefield, the Airport Advisory Commission has not yet even voted on the proposal to allow heavier jets. The vote, however, could take place on July 8 when the airport commission is set to make a recommendation to the city council. Proponents of the plan to allow the heavier planes point out the change could lead to more revenue for the airport; pilots of business jets avoid Scottsdale because of the weight restrictions. This requires them to buy fuel at other airports with Scottsdale missing out on the revenue from more fuel sales.

Airport Advisory Commission Chairman Art Rosen reminded residents at last month’s meeting “bigger isn’t louder.”

Hoeppner’s advice to the council on the heavier planes is not to upset residents who are not currently complaining about airplane noise.

“They should let sleeping dogs lie,” he said.

Photo: An Aviation Commission in Scottsdale could soon decide on allowing heavier planes to land at Scottsdale Airport.
Photo by Curtis Riggs