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Aircraft Relocations

November 09, 1986

Steven Meyers' letter (Oct. 26) offers recommendations for improving aviation safety. He obviously has put thought into the subject, but the idea of relocating light aircraft from John Wayne and Meadowlark airports to the Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Training Center and transferring reserve helicopters to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station poses questions about achievability and does not necessarily improve safety.

Beyond the legal issues regarding restrictions in the use of public airports, of which there are a number, the proposal necessitates coordinated action by federal and state agencies, the City of Los Alamitos, the County of Orange and a private airport proprietor. Other jurisdictions with a significant interest include the cities of Irvine, Huntington Beach and Long Beach.

The crux of the air safety issue is the separation of aircraft in flight. It would be a better solution to require light aircraft to have altitude reporting transponders to fly in heavily used airspace as was recently proposed by the FAA, and focus on improvement of the management of airspace utilization--employing terminal control areas, airport radar service areas, special use corridors--and provide more rigorous enforcement of air regulations. Toward enforcement, use of three-dimensional radar (of the type in use by the military) should be considered to help identify violators. Finally, collision-avoidance systems should be required for all air carrier aircraft as soon as practicable.

Implementation would require increasing air traffic control staff levels and additional equipment. Costs should be borne by the user-supported Federal Aviation Trust Fund, using the longstanding trust fund surplus.

DENIS R. HORN

Mission Viejo

Horn is chief of operations and facilities at John Wayne Airport and a former Marine Corps Air Command and Control officer.

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