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Posted on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8 a.m.

Ann Arbor airport needs to remain 'sleepy hollow' airport it was meant to be

By Guest Column


An aerial view showing the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport and landing strip looking east over Lorh Rd. taken on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.

Melanie Maxwell |

As a pilot and a Pittsfield Township resident I have followed closely since 2009 the debate about the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (ARB) runway expansion. Although I have almost 30,000 flight hours throughout four decades of military and civilian flying, I write this as a concerned citizen troubled by both the questionable process that brought us to this point and the negative impact the expansion will have on the surrounding communities.

The arguments against expansion are led by a grass roots community organization of more than 400 people, which has done an excellent job exposing falsehoods and dubious claims by expansion proponents. The leaders advocating for expansion appear to be a shadowy group of local aviation advocates and behind the scenes business interests with strong connections and influence in the city administration.

The proponents want the expansion in order to bring traffic to an underutilized facility; and to bring in more and bigger planes that will buy more fuel and rent more parking. Suspiciously they kept their formal expansion plans hidden from the public and the Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees until it legally was too late to file an objection. Then the proponents used a bogus “safety reasons” argument to con the Ann Arbor City Council into providing $400,000 for an environmental assessment (EA).

The safety argument has since completely been discredited as research through Federal Aviation Administration reports proved that every incident/accident (11 in all) at ARB during the past 20 years were not caused by the 3,500-foot runway but rather pilot error, weather issues, or mechanical events. When pilots land long and “hot” they can either go around or go off the end. Runway length is not a safety issue at ARB.

As for the EA, that too has been discredited as shoddy and not at all impartial. It did not analyze the runway expansion’s effects on the large aquifer beneath the airport from which Ann Arbor gets much of its drinking water and it failed to take into account increased noise caused by more night operations or noise pollution caused by an increase in larger jet traffic year round. Its poor quality and prejudice may be one of factors causing the FAA to delay approval of the EA.

Another issue to remedy by expansion as advocated by proponents is a blind spot from the tower of the northeast 150 feet of runway 06/24. That “problem” can be inexpensively fixed with a camera feed to the tower or merely a decommissioning the northeast 150 feet while adding another 150 feet on the southwest end of runway 24. A good compromise.

There is no doubt that the longer runway will bring in larger and noisier planes of all types. Build it and they always will come. Expansion will shift the glide slope lower on runway 06 so that those bigger jets will be flying over the Lohr Road homes as low as 93 feet. There is a huge difference in an accident fireball between a small Cessna and a 20,000-pound jet!! Willow Run Airport is near enough that we surely can keep ARB the “Sleepy Hollow” airport it always was meant to be.

Yes people bought or built their homes knowing they were near a 3500 foot runway. That was the deal. But now they have every right to object to an expansion project that appears solely to be in the best interests of a few moneyed businessmen while harming a surrounding community’s quality of life.

Very powerful individuals are obviously behind the expansion project for this city subsidized and financially struggling airport because someone at City Hall was still able to place runway expansion funds back onto the AA Capital Improvement Plan.

Justifications for the runway expansion do not hold up to honest scrutiny. I hope Ann Arbor respects the wishes of the Pittsfield Township community.

Michael Petraszko



Tyrone Shoelaces

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

The world surrounding your home does not stop progressing at the moment you buy it. Airports may be expanded. Roads may be widened. Gravel pits may be dug (that gravel was dropped there at least 10,000 years before your house was there), life flight helicopters rushing injured people to the hospital may fly over your house on the north side of town (just outside of KARB controlled airspace), and city parks may have play structures added to them (an actual complaint from my neighborhood). Can you tell me why on Earth is progress allowed - progress which led to the development of your neighborhood and home - up until the time you buy that house, and then it has to stop? Isn't it awfully coincidental that the moment you bought your house also happens to be the exact moment any and all other changes must cease?


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

One more thing about the tower: Back in 1980, Pres Reagen fired all the controllers and the traffic count increased. It turned out that the tower operations actually slowed down the traffic by making the crew fly longer and wider patterns.


Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

"Ann Arbor airport needs to remain 'sleepy hollow' airport it was meant to be' Maybe Lohr road should have remained the dirt rd with farms and no development it was meant to be


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

Mr Packman, let me answer for Michael about the past financial health of the airport. (And I hope the next time Miss Amy writes an article about the airport she will do a better job of research from both sides of the argument).........When the airport runway extension project was first proposed in 2007, the airport had lost money from operations for the five previous years -- more than $ 500,000! Even though things have improved in the last few years as with so many businesses -- a good thing -- the airport has still lost money from operations in seven of the last 12 years and six of the last 10 years. And for several years (2008-2010) it has operated on an annual basis with only 9-16 days cash on hand, an accounting measure of financial health, hardly the mark of a thriving business. And I won't even go into the IRS mess with the airport that the city had to clean up. The airport has been a marginal operation at best since 2000. And I have to reply, as Al has, to your comment "Longer runways mean more time to abort that TO in the event of problems prior to decision speed." Sir, it is all relative to the size of the airplanes. The bigger and heavier a plane is the longer the required take off field length and acceleration stop distance. Therefore once the runway is expanded to 4300 feet the several jets already based at ARB and the new and larger ones that will come in will certainly increase their fuel load and pax/cargo load to take advantage of the extra concrete and your safety margin of additional concrete is gone. Then if and when they lose an engine just after V1 and if they are max performing that plane, jet or turboprop, will cross the end of the runway at the FAA mandated 35 feet and limp climb over the homes of Stonebridge and Georgetown at well less than 100 feet while performing the emergenvy checklists and searching for an emergency landing place. Not cool Packman. Not cool.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Packman. You said: >> Longer runways mean more time to abort that TO in the event of problems prior to decision speed. << Let me help you out: "V1 is the maximum speed at which the rejected takeoff maneuver can be initiated and the airplane stopped within the remaining field length under the conditions and procedures defined in the FAR's. It is the latest point in the takeoff roll where a stop can be initiated. from your statement above, obviously you are a bit confused about V1, accelerate/stop distance etc. If you had the proper calculations for takeoff, and ended up somewhere past the concrete, it is: PILOT ERROR. Read again what the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said in response to silliness such as yours: ***"It is not the runway length that's the issue," said Bernard Loeb, who was director of aviation safety at the NTSB during the mid-1990s. "Runways are either adequate or they're not."*** Get it ? Now YOU, Packman, want us to cater to the lowest common denominator so when the next PILOT ERROR occurs, you will not even scratch any of the 135 airplanes on the field...because Packman, today, there is PLENTY of land for errors/overruns around the airport. It is just not concrete. If you are trying to account for all errors, and actually bothered READING the accidents and incidents reports, you should first WIDEN the runway and probably pave the entire township and Georgetown. In closing; A longer runway ***WILL*** result in HEAVIER traffic with a LONGER accelerate/stop distance , hence absolute PILOT safety margin will remain **UNCHANGED**. Residents safety however will DECLINE by large margins and as Mr. Peraszko said; heavier aircraft = larger fireball. The solution: Don't change what is not broken.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

Al: Been there, done that on V1 cuts, sim SE, etc. I do understand aerodynamics. Longer runways mean more time to abort that TO in the event of problems prior to decision speed. All the doomsday scenarios you are spinning could happen now when taking off on 24...if you live in Stonebridge, you should have known better


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:02 a.m.

Packman. So ...93 feet to 150 feet over rooftops. The FAA considers ONE THOUSAND feet as minimum safe altitude over populated area. There is a HUGE difference between the numbers and as we both know, the only reason this airport is operating is because the FARs allows for lower altitude for takeoff and landings. Still 100 feet over rooftops during the most demanding phase of flt. IS NOT SAFE. Now lets expand and concentrate on FACTS. The longer runway WILL allow aircraft to carry more payload and FUEL. The runway will be extended to the southwest . So HEAVIER aircraft getting airborne further down the runway and CLOSER to homes. They WILL be flying closer to rooftops. What will be even more interesting is a hot day and higher density altitude in which case the aircraft climb performance will decline and so will the rate of climb. Another nasty FACT. And all of this is with both engines operating normally. I am not sure if you have ever practiced an engine loss at rotation as many of us do it during annual simulator training you will understand a bit more on this issue. So pleaseallow me to enlighten you; You have just lost not 50, but around 80% of your performance. A light twin WILL CRASH straight ahead. It can NOT CLIMB on one engine nor can it turn back to the airport. It WILL stall first. Its called: Aerodynamics. The Citation rate of climb will decline from 3600 fpm to around 700-800 fpm. Not high enough for my comfort level over rooftops. But since you do not reside in either Pittsfield or Ann Arbor, I seriously doubt you care about such "minor" issues. Have a great weekend ! P.S. You do realize the Fire department which is required to keep the airport going, is a Pittsfield Twp fire department. Me thinks you should try and be a bit nicer to the township which will send their fire trucks to the next aircraft wondering off to the SIDE of the runway....

Basic Bob

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4:29 a.m.

"FARs allow for lower altitude for takeoff and landing" Yes, because all flights start and end at ground level. If it were not for takeoff and landing, we wouldn't have airports. On those hot days, I would hope the pilot has more runway on takeoff rather than less. By your reasoning, the airport would be safer if we were to shorten the runway by 850 feet. I bet your aviation and public safety experts (if you had any) would disagree.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

"Very powerful individuals are obviously behind the expansion project for this city subsidized and financially struggling airport because someone at City Hall was still able to place runway expansion funds back onto the AA Capital Improvement Plan." Michael: Please justify what you mean by "financially struggling airport" with facts...the airport rental hangars are consistently better than 90% occupied and when 100% occupied have potential income of in excess of $50,000/month. The airport more than pays for itself and the privately owned hangars pay property tax to Pittsfield Twp.


Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

Mr Packman, let me answer for Michael. (And I hope the next time Miss Amy writes an article about the airport she will do a better job of research from both sides of the argument.........When the airport runway extension project was first proposed in 2007, the airport had lost money from operations for the five previous years -- more than $ 500,000! Even though things have improved in the last few years as with so many businesses -- a good thing -- the airport has still lost money from operations in seven of the last 12 years and six of the last 10 years. And for several years (2008-2010) it has operated on an annual basis with only 9-16 days cash on hand, an accounting measure of financial health, hardly the mark of a thriving business. And I won't even go into the IRS mess with the airport that the city had to clean up. The airport has been a marginal operation at best since 2000.

sandy schopbach

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

This is a well-written and soundly argued piece. I agree with Mr. Petraszko 100% and greater knowledge. Thank you, sir, for taking the time to do this. Let's hope the city will listen to reason. I live at the other end, the usual landing end, and would not like to see any larger planes with louder engines flying into Ann Arbor. As you pointed out, Willow Run isn't that far away.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

As it is pointed out with noisy airplane engines, we here who live near there don't find it so noisy. Plus it is a boost for our economy. Since Ann Arbor would loose anyway to tax free UM, we here in Ypsi will take the tax incentives. So, again thank you Ann Arbor for sending another business our way.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

So Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman continue to chase each other thru time. Interesting they used this headline.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

To Al: The folks who live in wards 3 and 4 will actually be safer because aircraft approaching to land on RWY 24 will be higher. Those taking off on RWY 06 will be higher also. All pilots will concur that a longer runway is always safer...except those pilots who live in Stonebridge. The doomsday scenarios that you are spinning haven't happened, but could even with today's runway length and placement. BTW there is only one house on Lohr Rd where a plane could be as low as 93 feet above the house...most of Stonebridge is not even in the flight path for straight in approaches on RWY 06 with a 3 degree glide path. At present (and for the past umpteen years the planes over that one house are at something around 140-150 feet.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

We are progressive in the Glorious People's Democratic Republic of Ann Arbor. That means that we are perfectly happy as long as nothing ever changes.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

The lack of transparency in this process stinks to high heaven. For the shadowy interests pushing this fiasco, this expansion is a game. They buy a few local politicians with promises of untraceable payback, subvert open government, and voila! Ann Arbor residents are saddled with a boondoggle they didn't need, didn't want, but will have to support...guess how. Rich out-of-towners treat places like Ann Arbor the way cats treat mice, as a plaything. These fat cats have no real investment in the city, no loyalty to its wellbeing, no history here, nor any sense of civic responsibility. This project does nothing to promote long-term, sustainable economic growth in the region (emphasis on long-term and sustainable. These concepts are alien to people with the money and power to live an "I-want-it-and-I-get-my-way mentality. They get an adrenalin rush from throwing their weight around.). In short, they have no skin in the game. When some other bright shiny object gets their attention, Ann Arbor will be left in a lurch. ARB might have to be repurposed when the bubble economy created by the expansion bursts. Hmmm, maybe we turn it into a dragstrip...

Basic Bob

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 5 p.m.

You seem confident that there is some evil corporate bigwigs lurking in the shadows. But there is no proof. The city owns an airport and their safety experts recommend the runway improvements. I don't care if the city operates an airport, but if they do I hope they don't cut corners with regard to the safety of pilots, passengers, and neighbors.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 3:45 a.m.

The longer runway people have been using the stealth approach for 30 years. Back then, it was the Discount Tire jet that needed the longer runway, now it appears it is the AvFuel jet. The same arguments still apply as Al so aptly noted. It is amazing that one or two jets and their big money owners can drive airport expansion. The average resident of the area will see no benefit to this expansion, its only a couple of monied companies that want this. Put heat on your council people and they will put the expansion on the back burner for another 10 years.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.

(Response to SalineD Cont. ) ...Not until a lot of pressure was applied did they allow 2 more opposing folks on the Cmte, which was nothing more than a rubber stamp anyway. With this kind of a JOKE (For lack of better word) of a process, and absolutely no oversight before stuff gets to the council. For sure no opposing you still wonder how "stuff" passes the council ? Do you really think any council member read the small letters indicating : 40,000 lbs per Axel or understood what it meant ? Do you think they were told of the plans for the GREEN BELT (Corn field) under the ALP ? (As a side note, this Green Belt is similar to others AA citizens elected to increase their taxes and purchase... Here, they OWN a green belt which actually produces money when leased, yet sadly because it is part of the ALP...well, you guessed it; The "airport" has plans... Sadly, NONE of this will increase safety for pilots, and all of this WILL reduce safety for residents. That BTW, includes AA citizens as well. Many are not even aware of the crash inside AA territory in the 70s which killed a couple of folks not too far from one of AA public schools...


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

Saline. In ref to your: >> SalineDion 7:27 PM on 2/14/2013 >>Do you know why the City Council members in Wards 3 and 4, the very parts of Ann Arbor most affected by airport operations and most in danger of large loss of life should an airplane go down, why those council members, Kunselman, Taylor, Higgins, and Teall, are not part of the active fight to stop this nonsense?? Seems to me their over riding positions should be the protection of the quality of life and noise levels over the Georgetown area and to place the residents well being first.<< I don't think Kunselman was on the council when the Airport Layout plan was approved. As far as I know, today, he strongly opposes this insanity. As to the rest ...well, they were only told one side of the story which was laced with "safety". There was no one to debunk the nonsense. Even after the layout plan was approves (With the ever increasing weight limit ...this time 40,000 PER AXLE !), the cheerleaders created the makeup of the so called: "Citizens" Advisory Cmte...which consisted of: The airport manager...The AvFuel pilot...The Airport advisory Cmte Chair. Another person fr the AAC, a Instructor and MDOT Reps. *ALL OF THEM IN FAVOR" of this project. Cont.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

Pilot Stan... You said: >> It will, however, make landings safer for relatively quiet, modern light corporate jet aircraft such as the Cessna Citation series. 3,500 feet is just too short to safely and CONSISTENTLY land a corporate aircraft, particularly when the runway is wet or contaminated. A few hundred feet more runway dramatically expands the safety margin for these operations,<< You are 100% correct. And it kind of sounds as if YOU are the one flying that AvFuel Citation. Yes, indeed, that aircraft has NO margin for error, on a 3500' runway, hence the low approach practically scraping the rooftops as it MUST touch down on the first inch of the runway. Here are few points: 1. There is a VERY safe airport with long runway and 24/7 tower and rescue facility, right next door. 2. If / when you run off the ARB runway, it will NOT be because of a "short" runway, but rather: "pilot ERROR" . 3. Here is what Bernard Loeb of the NTSB said in Ref to the Midway overrun which killed one bystander: "It is NOT about runway length. Runways are either adequate...or they are not." (Let me know if you would like me to expand on that concept.) 4. Longer runway, WILL allow aircraft to carry more payload and fuel. Hence the final equation WILL remain the same. Yet... ***..THE MARGIN OF SAFETY FOR EVERY PERSON ON THE GROUND WILL BE REDUCED even further***. As it stands today, ARB is perfectly fine for the mostly single engine aircraft it serves. If YOU need a longer runway, there is Willow Run. If ARB's runway is extended for the Citation...whats next, you will push to turn State St. into a tunnel so the runway can be extended over it, all the way to company's office ? Really ?! (BTW, did you know it only takes 10 Min to get to Willow Run ? )


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

Funny how the same airport cheerleading squad responsible for wasting tax dollars by misleading the AA council with their "safety " cheer. (A claim which even Mdot had since abandoned.) keeps on attacking those who fail to see the world as one long runway... Not only is it funny but mighty hypocritical when you consider the fact that many of those responsible for this tax waste snowball, do not reside in AA or even Pittsfield... As it often happens tens of thousands of us will end up holding the bag for the 135 or so, aircraft owners at ARB.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

Al, you seem to know alot about this. Do you know why the City Council members in Wards 3 and 4, the very parts of Ann Arbor most affected by airport operations and most in danger of large loss of life should an airplane go down, why those council members, Kunselman, Taylor, Higgins, and Teall, are not part of the active fight to stop this nonsense?? Seems to me their over riding positions should be the protection of the quality of life and noise levels over the Georgetown area and to place the residents well being first.

P Beal

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

I will second MP's & Gerry in his view that Willow Run is under used right now. It is more than close enought to AA... I live right now under the approaches to Willow Run and have lived under the appraoches to AA ariport's: to me, there is no question that WR should be better used... And Gargoyle is fundamentally right...


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

The Cessna Citation seems to be a jet of choice for the pro ARB expansionists. I Googled Cessna Citation crashes and stopped looking at page 50. They crash fast, hard, and fiery, often in residential neighborhoods with multiple fatalities. Please keep your Cessna Citations as far from here as possible.Go to an existing airport with adequate flight and crash support.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Number of fatalities for ALL civil aircraft in the U.S. in 2011 - 485 Number of fatalities for ALL automobiles the U.S. in 2011 - 32,367 Please keep your super dangerous Automobiles as far from here as possible.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Paranoid hysteria rules the day yet again.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

See that's just hyping fears. Do you know of ANY plane that crashes slowly, softly and sans fire? Don't put it out there that they are dropping out of the sky like pigeons, you do a huge disservice to your point of view.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

It's interesting that you continue to use this "noisier aircraft" argument again and again. I would expect that someone claiming to have logged over 30,000 hours would know by now that piston aircraft and turboprops, which already account for the vast majority of aircraft utilizing ARB, are noisier than the business jet aircraft that a longer runway would attract. I was so interested in fact that I did a certificate holder database check for MIchael Petrazko and it came back with zero hits. So much for expert opinions.$pass*193800885!


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Tell me this, SkyJockey - how many of your 35 years have been spent outside the cockpit and on the ground actually hearing jets take off over your head from less than two miles away? Very little, I'd wager. And I've always been struck by how much quieter it is inside a jet than on the ground below one. Since you're a pilot, you may have spent some time studying engineering. In that case, you should be familiar with the potential flaws of models such as the Perceived Noise Level you cite, particularly when you try to cram a bunch of complex outcomes into a single, tidy figure. Given that the FAA has a role in promoting aviation and supporting the industry, and is heavily lobbied, I have to be suspicious of the objectivity of their noise model. Even so, they key issue here is that we're talking about neighborhoods that will be less than half a mile from the end of the extended runway. What do your FAA noise models say about the sonic impact of jet takeoffs within one mile of the runway? Do they say they are minimal? Or do they simply find them "acceptable," given that people further away are not severely affected?


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

OK Zeeba I'll grant that you're a self proclaimed airplane geek. But I'm an actual pilot who has spent the past 35 years flying actual aircraft and I know quite well what kinds of aircraft propulsion systems are louder than others. Either way, you can jump up and down and shout "liar" to your heart's content. But I'll trust measured sound data conducted by actual sound technicians published by a Federal agency over your own bionic hearing any day. And by the way, the sound data is collected at varying distances INCLUDING at the actual source. Now unless you're going to try and say that in your neighborhood the laws of physics have ceased to become applicable and sound actually gets louder with increasing distance, I'd say your argument is a bunch of malarkey. Again for the record, according to the FAA The Effective Perceived Noise level of a Gulfstream G-V is 69.0 dBA. The Effective Perceived Noise level of a Cirrus SR22 is 73.6 dBA. Keep in mind that decibel levels work on a logarithmic scale similar to the richter scale, so this is no small difference at all.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Pilot Stan, I'm actually a bit of a airplane geek, and I know the difference between a cargo aircraft and a business jet. And for the umpteenth time, I'm telling you, Skyjockey and the rest of your ilk that I lived right under the flight path, I saw and heard both small business jets and cargo planes, and they were ALL loud as &#@! , though the larger jets were perhaps a bit louder. Even if newer jets may have made some improvements, what makes you think that's all that will fly into A2? They'll get plenty of older Lears, Citations, etc. as you well know. Skyjockey. as for your FAA data, you surely know that sound levels vary significantly with distance from the source and some noises carry better than others. The A2 runways are extremely close to residential neighborhoods, these jets are still going to be very low when taking off and landing, and it's going to be extremely loud. Again, quit lying.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

Zeeba, the cargo heavies that operate out of YIP will not be able to utilize ARB even with the extended runway. And if I'm lying then so is the FAA which regularly publishes noise data for all aircraft. But don't let actual real data get in the way of your vast aeronautical knowledge.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Zeeba, do you even comprehend that there are different types of business jets? The jets flying in and out of Willow Run airport have for decades been primarily used by freight-hauling operators for the auto industry. These are 30 and 40 year old Learjet aircraft, DC-9's, etc. They are some of the loudest jet airplanes still flying. These are not the same type of jets that would be flying into Ann Arbor. Jet engine technology has become much quieter over 40 years and your anecdotal and apparently ignorant observations of aircraft noise make for a hardly reliable argument. Rather than demand that people "quit lying" perhaps you ought to quit fudging the truth and back away from your keyboard for a while.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

Not true. As someone who lived under the Willow Run flight path for a year (1.75 miles from runway end) and someone who frequently golfs at Stonebridge (1/2 mile from runway end), I can tell you from extensive personal experience that even the smallest business jet is far, far louder than even a heavy prop plane Quit lying.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

I flew out of karb for ten years from 1980 thru 1993 and the same arguments were going on then. You had money on one side and the socialy elite on the other. It really makes no difference who wins but I think its always the Money talks and B.S. walks


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

I love how Mr. Petraszko flaunts his "30,000 flight hours through four decades of military and civilian flying," as if that somehow makes him an expert on airport design standards. Mr. Petraszko is an airline pilot who has spent the majority of that flight time in straight and level flight, on autopilot, in the flight levels. One wonders how many decades it has been since he's actually flown in a GA aircraft - or even whether he's actually landed on the runway at ARB. Mr. Petraszko's experience in the military or at air carrier airports is of little value to this discussion. There is far too much hysterical rhetoric involved in discussions of airport expansion. Ignorant opponents of aviation, often fueled by the pseudo-expertise of individuals like Mr. Petraszko, think that any runway expansion leads to humongous jumbo jets arriving and departing at all hours of the day and night. The simple truth is that expanding the runway a few hundred feet cannot and will not suddenly open up the airport to massive cargo jets or airliners. It will, however, make landings safer for relatively quiet, modern light corporate jet aircraft such as the Cessna Citation series. 3,500 feet is just too short to safely and CONSISTENTLY land a corporate aircraft, particularly when the runway is wet or contaminated. A few hundred feet more runway dramatically expands the safety margin for these operations, yet would not generate a massive change in the type of aircraft currently using this facility. Mr. Petraszko knows this full well, and does a disservice to this discussion by inappropriately claiming aviation "expertise" in an area where he has little relevant knowledge or experience.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : midnight

Stan - Since it seems my initial reply was deleted for using a few uppercase words for emphasis, I'll repeat myself: I know the difference between a cargo jet and a small business jet when I see them and I heard and saw both when I lived under the Willow Run flight path. Willow Run handles a bunch of small business jets which are, at best, only slightly less noisy than commercial cargo jets like the DC9s that also fly into Willow Run. I heard both types, I know that small business jets are far louder than prop planes. Why do you continue to challenge what I know from personal experience? Personal experience gained from living over a mile further from Willow Run than neighborhoods like Stonebridge are from the Ann Arbor runways. Spin this as much as you want, but increased business jet traffic would be ruinous for those neighborhoods.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

BTW Stan, I'm also a professional writer, so I'm very familiar with the ways the English language can be used and abused to shade meaning and hide the truth. The words I highlighted from your remarks are the classic tools of the politician and PR man who wants to minimize the impact of his words. You also make reference to the fact that jets have a smaller noise footprint than prop planes because they climb faster. But that footprint is stomped down pretty hard. And once again, we're talking about neighborhoods that are less than half a mile from the end of the runway extension - well within the footprint.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.

Ok. So who IS IT that NEEDS this runway lengthened. Mr. AvFuel who must now refuel in route to his vacation home in Florida? Who else? Who is it that is so spoiled and pampered that it irritates them to drive from Willow Run? Are you the guy who hangers the second jet at ARB, or do you just carry his water?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

If there is anyone exaggerating, SalineDion, it's you when you throw around generalizations that the only people using this runway extension are people going to their stadium suite at the UW. Either be serious or take a hike.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

PilotStan...why shoot the messenger. And why exaggerrate about what the article did not say. No one ever has said 4300 feet will bring in airliners. Come on man make your counterpoint real. The discussion is about business and personal jets. If these people are uncomfortable or unable landing on 3500 feet than go Willow Run. If you fly in a light jet you can surely afford a short limo ride to your UM stadium suite.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

It's telling that "zeeba" is forced to resort to attacking my word choices rather than engaging in a substantive discussion on the merits of the issue. That's simply because his argument has no merit. The freighter airplanes flying in and out of Willow Run are not comparable to the type of aircraft that might fly into Ann Arbor with an extended runway. They ARE noticeably quieter and there are facts, not hysterical exaggerations, to prove this. Further demonstrating his ignorance, zeeba claims that jet airplanes are somehow more bothersome than prop planes. The truth is precisely the opposite. When coming in for landing, jet airplanes have very reduced power and are hardly noisier than a propeller aircraft on the same approach. During departure, jet aircraft are louder than a propeller plane, but zeeba overlooks that they climb faster and fly at a faster speed than propeller planes. This means the total noise footprint is actually smaller as the jet is up and away from your location more quickly than a propeller plane can be. Furthermore, jet airplanes will likely only make one landing and one departure from the airport, in contrast to propeller planes that may practice multiple touch-and-go landings at an airport and fly repeatedly over the same points in the course of an hour. In my experience looking at airport noise complainers, people whine about jet noise but when you look into their actual complaints more often than not their complaints are about small propeller airplanes.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

Runway lengthening advocates like to use fuzzy terms like "massive," "humongous," "relatively" and "dramatically" to hide the fact that lengthening the runway will bring in more jet traffic, it will be a noticeable increase and it will be much louder than the airport's current traffic. As someone who has lived under the Willow Run approach, I can tell you there is no such thing as a quiet jet aircraft, no matter how small or modern, and they're all much louder than prop planes.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Yes, we moved into Stonebridge knowing the airport could be expanded. Yes, we assumed that risk. No issue with that concept. However, how does that stop us from resisting expansion? Resisting for all the right reasons--unnecessary, will not bring any significant economic benefit, add noise and congestion, etc. We may lose, but, because we knowingly bought into the neighborhood does not automatically strip us of the right to oppose such a needless waste of money.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

How about we just cut the losses and close the airport? Make it a massive municipal soccer complex. Remember how the old dump was going to turn into soccer fields? It'll cost money to mow it. WHOOP DE DOO! Why should taxpayers find an airport for a few people to enjoy a hobby? Go 10 minutes east to Willow Run.

Fly guy

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

One solution to fixing the problem of the blind spot of the end of the runway by the tower would be to close the tower. This airport doesn't get enough traffic to justify a tower in the first place.


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Exactly Fly Guy. Makes you wonder how this Federal Gov can afford supporting the ARB tower and wasting our taxes on a longer useless runway project conceived out of thin air in a room full of smoke and mirrors.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

The tower shuts down every night at 8:00


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Don't know about NOW, but back in the mid 90's, the Tower was only manned during the day. At night all traffic was directed by Metro Controllers, to the A2 Airport.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

oh yea, one more thing: once you accept funding from the FAA to build the tower, you can't close the airport unless you refund the funding to the Feds. Have any loose cash laying around.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

Silly boy. The tower is an FAA training facility

Jon Wax

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

Naw, make it as big as it can get. Why not? The rest of the town really isn't A2 any more. Not the way it used to be. May as well go all in and make a giant airport. Who knows why, just to have it I guess. Think of all the people who can fly in for football games!!! Whatever. Peace Wax


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

If you are against change and growth and expansion, there is land for sale real cheap in Alaska where you can go back to horseback and canoe transportation. Get a grip people, this proposed expansion will not allow 747s to fly into ARB. These small jets are pretty quiet by comparison to some of the older prop planes. Expansion is a good thing.

John of Saline

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

SalineDion, jets already land at ARB occasionally. No big deal. And aviation is a far safer enterprise than you imply.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Salinefan....(BTW I am a fan of Saline too!) ... Who in their right mind would want a corporate/personal jet or ANY plane for that matter to cross over their house at less than 100 feet!!! And piloted by rusty part time amateur pilots who do not perform non-precision appoaches very often?? Go to Willow Run and land those heavier and larger planes where there is 24 hour crash rescue and control tower.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

As long as Willow Run is just up the road, I don't see why the Ann Arbor airport needs enhanced jet capacity. As I've said previously in this discussion, when I first moved to this area I briefly lived in the Lake of the Woods complex on Grove St., and the noise from small business jets there was terrible! That complex is 1.75 miles from the end of the main Willow Run runway; Stonebridge is only half a mile from the end of the A2 airport as presently configured.

Rick Stevens

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

Didn't Av-Fuel have like two representatives on the committee looking into the expansion? I always thought that was very curious and seemed to be stacking the deck in favor of expansion that was a direct benefit to the company.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

".... keep ARB the "Sleepy Hollow" airport it always was meant to be." upon what do you base that opinion?


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

Remember Craig; The city of AA bought the land for *WATER* rights, not to operate an airport. Yes, indeed...Just few feet under the leaded gas sold at ARB, is the aquifer which provides part of the water to AA residents. As a side note, even back then, there was NO AIRPORT around. After WW2 pilots just started to land on a grass strip which later became what we have today. I'd say that is as much expansion as we need around here. Unless of course you would like check what happens to other urban areas near an expanding airport ?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

builders don't often build anything with the notion it is permanent as is. Additions get built on houses, Stadiums get bigger , roads get widened, runways get longer.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 10:09 p.m.

most everything on these pages is an opinion. if the builders had wanted a larger airport to compete with Willow Run they would have done so, no? therefore, this airport is exactly the size the original builders intended. at least that is my opinion.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

that doesn't mean there was some inherent fate that the runway would never be expanded. the "always meant to be" part is what I am that in writing somewhere dating back to the beginnings of the airport? If not its just an opinion. I can say that subdivision west of the airport was always meant to be farm land. It doesn't mean its true, its just an opinion.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

That is the opinion of many many people. The ARB was built to 3500 feet to accomodate the aviation enthusiasts and pilots who did not want to be in a traffic pattern with larger planes.

G. Orwell

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

It seems obvious the push to extend the runway has nothing to do with safety since there has never been an accident as a result of the current runway length. So, what is the real reason behind the push? I'd bet it is for the special/monied interests. Obviously they are not going to admit that. Is it a coincidence that the latest push to extend the runway happened around the time when the UM football stadium upgrade began? There was interest in extending the runway in the past, but I think this is another reason why the push to extend is happening again. The wealthy people that own the $100,000 plus sky suites probably want the convenience of flying in and out of AA airport. They won't need to spend over an hour getting here from Detroit Metro. Traffic jam on I-94 all the way to the stadium must be very bothersome to them. If I am right, I bet the UM and mayor are supporting the expansion. Although the mayor is doing a pretty good job pretending he is against it. If the mayor is against it and most of the city council are against it, why is the expansion still on the table? If the mayor wants to rub shoulders with the super rich, he should do it on his own dime. Don't use tax payer money to benefit them. The people of Michigan, the US and the world are sick and tired of the super rich getting everything they want at the expense of the average person. Enough is enough. The sole reason for wanting to extend the runway is to benefit the rich using tax payer money. Like it is always done.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

I'd guess AV Fuel has something to do with it also. More and bigger planes need more fuel. Money, money, money!


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

I could care less what happens to the airport but the title of the opinion is misleading. I do not believe that at any time the thought was to keep it a "sleepy hollow airport." It has been known for years that the desire was for expansion. I remember contemplating purchasing a home years ago in Stonebridge and knew at that time of the possibility of airport expansion. As a result I purchased elsewhere.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

Well, if the plan was to ALWAYS expand the airport, the advocates should have done it during the economic aviation hayday of the 70's. They lost that opportunity by not doing it when only fields surrounded the airport and the Georgetown residents could be ignored.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

The problem with proposals like this is they never take no for an answer. They keep coming back, like a bad case of herpes, until they get their way. It's all about the fat cats flying in on their jets for football Saturdays. God forbid they have to drive 14 miles from Willow Run.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

How did this thing get back on the City's Capital Improvement Plan? They have already wasted $400,000 of local taxpayer money on the PR work to get this runway expanded. Excellent summary opinion piece: Fictitious safety concerns, backroom dealing, expansion benefiting the small but powerful corporate jet crowd. This thing is a mess. It's only going to get messier when a jet clips a home on the way in. Ann Arbor City Council would be wise to put the legal costs into their 2014 Capital Improvement Plan.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Then Stonebridge should revert to farm land and a gravel pit, Briarwood to a farm, and every road west of the airport back to gravel.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Thanks for your point of view, Mr. Petraszko. As a city resident, I support your concerns. As a city resident, those larger jets will be flying over my neighborhood, too. The City of Ann Arbor should disclose ALL of the potential flight paths over the city to its residents. How about it mayor? Why not make it clear to everyone what airport expansion will mean to quality of life for many residents? Please make a comment. Waiting for it. . .


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

RuralMom....Why again can't the airport stay the same size it has been for all these years? Change for change sake for no good reason is a waste of money. Sometimes small and cozy is fine even if it gets the University of Michigan upset. My gut tells me their big donors want this.....for them....not for us.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Zeeba that's not the point, homes were bought surrounding an airport. You don't have to be a pilot to know its not gonna stay the exact same years or decades to come! I have to say as a teenager in the late 80's working at the old Total station there on corner, it was a sight in the middle of the night to see planes taxi down state street, to I-94 where they would be driven to Willow Run airport on the freeway for repairs that could not be done at A2.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

RuralMom/BasicBob - Not in landing patterns, they aren't. The flight paths being discussed here are the approaches and departures from the airport itself. To conflate those with the open flight plans followed between airports is uniformed at best, deliberately misleading at worst.

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

Potential flight paths for small aircraft are anywhere that is unrestricted by the FAA. They don't file flight plans and aren't required to stay on course. If they want they can fly in circles. All the Chicken Littles better stock up the underground bunker in preparation.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

You don't think they go around A2 just for YOU now do you? Air space is air space, short of an event at the Stadium and FAA rules, they fly where they want!


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Good point about those larger planes also flying over other parts of the city. Tell me again why we need to land larger planes there?

Dog Guy

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

Has "sleepy Hollow" ARB offered to sell its future development rights to the Ann Arbor Greenbelt fund?


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Wasn't there a prop plane that crash landed in the middle of a subdivision near there just a few years ago? Recall it just missed a house. No such miss if it was a jet plane. Wonder if we can track the corporate officer donations to city council members who might be supporting this? Has to be some money flowing behind the scenes on this baby. Local CEOs using this airport for their jets is too tasty a morsel to let go of.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Nope, not that one (tho I forgot about it). This was one that landed right smack in the middle of a golf course in a subdivision. On the flight path I think. Don't know the name of the sub but remember the photograph in the paper. It was funny to see but probably very scary for the residents who lived there.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5 p.m.

@a2huron - it was a block away from my home. The crash was at the intersection of Bemis and Warner. About 4 miles south-southeast of the Airport, if I had to guess without looking at a map.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

That was a homebuilt plane flown by a pilot who was buzzing his neighborhood (south of MichiganAve I believe). A longer runway would actually prevent crashes as it would allow a safer run off area. But seriously, If you bought or built in Stonebridge and are now complaining ...


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Ann Arbor - it's all for sale - even the parts in Pittsfield Twp.

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Thanks for emerging from the shadow with your dubious opinion. However you have failed to con me with your falsehoods.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

Saline Dion - Try living along the M-14/I-96 or the US-23 corridor. The UofM Helicopters are low and noisy. We appreciated the move to the quieter machines a few years ago, now that has been reversed with the new "More Capable" helicopters they are leasing. Aviation changes. At least 1 night a week the UofM helicopters fly low over the house. I am not going to pick up the phone and complain, simply because someone is getting a chance to live because of that helicopter, but I did not buy my house 25 years ago on a major helicopter flight path - it changed to become that with the change in the way aviation was used.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6 p.m.

The airport didn't magically appear overnight, when those homes were bought, the airport was there. No where in the sales contract for that home did it promise to keep the airport frozen in time! Its called buyer beware!


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Robert Jones lives in Hickory Pointe. No reason to care if planes fly over other homes or not.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

What are the falsehoods? Can you elaborate? Would you like a jet flying over your house at 100 feet? The geometry of a 3 degree glideslope from the proposed end of a new runway 06 takes it way too close to the rooftops of the homes on Lohr.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

"Suspiciously they kept their formal expansion plans hidden from the public and the Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees until it legally was too late to file an objection. " Just how long have you lived in A2? This expansion has been talked about for years. There were active objections going back to the 80's. "Sleepy Hollow", applied when Lohr and Ellsworth were still dirt, around 1983. Both roads are now major thoroughfares with as much traffic, noise and congestion as State Road or Maple.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Basic Bob, please do not attempt to muddy the waters. You know full well that while there always have been expansion sharks circling the airport and advocacy spoken of at the advisory meetings, the formal presentation, including fake "safety reasons", to the ciry council and the vote occurred out of the blue without the availibility for any formal counter arguement from opponents because the Pittsfield BOT and local homeowner community organizations were blindsided.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

Yes, I wanted to add that this fight goes back to the '80's . It was a big issue for the Georgetown subdivision at that time, who were constantly objecting to any expansion.

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Pittsfield has a member on the Airport Advisory Committee. They knew all along.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

What community benefits would an expanded Ann Arbor airport bring that the present Willow Run does not?

Joe Hood

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

Which community benefits would the people living in near the runway in Ann Arbor not benefit from living near the runway at Willow Run?

Joe Kidd

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Its a lot closer.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

It would bring more business/revenue to all the businesses in the area that these additional people would use.