Aviation board discusses safety measures

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The Civil Aviation Board discussed during its monthly meeting Tuesday a proposal aimed at safer traffic measures at Clovis Municipal Airport through stricter access to airspace.

The proposal would call for an air traffic controller and limit access to the airport’s airspace — a five-mile radius around the airport — to only instrument-rated aircraft, which can navigate safer during low-visibility conditions.

Airport Manager Steve Summers said the change is necessary due to the possibility of increased traffic at the airport.

Summers said the airport recorded about 940 takeoffs and landings from private and chartered jet planes in 2005. That figure does not include 12 round-trip flights weekly to Albuquerque by Great Lakes Aviation.

He said air traffic at the airport is expected to increase when Cannon Air Force Base’s transition to a special operations base is complete in the next five to six years.

“The more numbers of operations calls for increased air control,” Summers said after the meeting.

He said the airport will have to obtain a written agreement with a controlling agency, such as Cannon Air Force Base or the Federal Aviation Administration, to provide air traffic control.

Summers said he has had conversations with base officials about the proposal.

“We should be hearing something soon,” he said.

The current airspace classification allows for aircraft to use the airport’s runways and fly within the airport’s airspace as long as they have a 700-foot ceiling and visibility of at least a mile.

Board Member John Carlson said he is worried about a collision involving low-flying aircraft during inclement weather under current guidelines.
“It’s going to happen sooner or later (if the airspace is not reclassified),” he said.