By Jane Larson
Saying the economic benefits are many and the noise levels and safety risks minimal, Scottsdale’s Airport Advisory Commission recommended unanimously Wednesday night that the city raise the aircraft weight limit to make it easier for high-end business jets to come to Scottsdale.
Commission members voted 6-0 for the second option proposed in the airport’s first-ever Strategic Business Plan. Vice Chairman Gunnar Buzzard was absent but sent a letter of support.
“I don’t know how you grow a city and a community without growing the infrastructure,” Commissioner Bo Calbert said, adding that keeping the status quo would lead to economic decline.
Raising the limit is expected to have little impact on noise and the number of takeoffs and landings but would increase revenue and the ability of the airport to serve and possibly attract new companies to the Scottsdale Airpark, Commissioner William Bergdoll said.
The Strategic Business Plan was commissioned to explore ways to keep the airport competitive with Valley rivals that want a piece of its prestigious business-jet market.
Consultants came up with four options ranging from the status quo to adding commercial service.
The preferred option, they said, would be to raise the airport’s aircraft weight limit to 100,000 pounds from the current 75,000 pounds. That would allow business jets such as the Gulfstream V and the Bombardier Global Express to come to Scottsdale without having to comply with current restrictions and to leave fully fueled for any trips to Europe or Asia.
More than 60 people filled the airport’s terminal for the discussion, and those who spoke were more often in favor of the proposal than against it.
Opposition came from a number of homeowners in neighborhoods north and west of the airport.
Some questioned the safety of jets carrying extra fuel, while others pleaded to prevent increases in noise or worried that the change would open the door to commercial service.
DC Ranch residents are concerned about the number of aircraft flying in and out, said Gerry Hrenchir, president of the community council.
“There are not many in the bad economy, but as soon as it picks up, you could see two or three times that,” he said.
Not all homeowners saw change as negative.
“I would hate to see an initiative that would create jobs and economic activity be put in jeopardy because of rumors and innuendo,” Ironwood Village resident Chad Willems said.
Pilots and employees of aviation businesses said the move would bring in modern, quieter and safer jets along with executives who would do business in Scottsdale.
“It’s revenue. It’s taxes. It’s a no-brainer,” pilot Brian Ready said.
Source: ARIZONA REPUBLIC