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Posted on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

See a bird's-eye view of the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport

By Amy Biolchini

A debate over a runway expansion at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport in Pittsfield Township is resurfacing as the township petitions the federal government to grant it some authority over the process.

Scan through the photo gallery and watch the video compiled from a Wednesday flight at the Ann Arbor airport. Read previous coverage and weigh in on the polls below.

Previous coverage:

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Fri, Feb 8, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

One of the "safety concerns" expressed by Matt Kulhanek, justifying extending and moving the entire runway, to allow controllers in the tower to see the North east area of the runway. What genius placed a tower where you can't see all of the runway? Who is responsible for that? Why spend $400,000 on Ann Arbor tax payers money investigating the impact of moving an entire runway when you could pay $1000 for CCTV? This is crazy. Who is Matt Kulhanek responsible to?


Fri, Feb 8, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Amy, thanks for your reply concerning your flight. It helped to allay the paranoia. The question "Do you view the Ann Arbor Airport as a community asset?" - is interesting. It SHOULD be a community asset, but this expansion farce has soured the view of the local resident community regarding the manner in which it is being managed. You should really look at the way the federal funds were sought in the early stages of the plan, and how local communities were deprived of the chance to appeal. The federal funds were presented to the Ann Arbor City council as a "done deal" - free money right? Well after $400,000 of Ann Arbor tax payers money down the hole - that free money is looking a little pricey..! Free money for more safety, right? Except the money isn't free and the safety concerns fictitious. The question, is: who is going to carry the can when this thing falls apart? - and the city council realizes they have wasted so much money.

a2 concerned

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

This snowy video of the snowy runways prompts these comments: 1. There is no de-icing at the airport to protect the wells that provide drinking water for Ann Arbor from the aquifer that now is only 2 feet below the airport surface in places. 2. The tower does not operate 24 hours. 3. Any pilot who wants to land at a municipal airport--no matter what the runway length and conditions--can do so .


Fri, Feb 8, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

With respect to #3, a pilot who makes a bad decision resulting in an incident or accident in a non-emergency situation will be held accountable by the FAA. Beyond that, quoted from Federal regulations (Title 14: Aeronautics and Space; PART 91—GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES; Subpart A—General): § 91.13 Careless or reckless operation. (a) Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another. (b) Aircraft operations other than for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft, other than for the purpose of air navigation, on any part of the surface of an airport used by aircraft for air commerce (including areas used by those aircraft for receiving or discharging persons or cargo), in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Many years ago, it was possible to fly into Chicago in a small commercial plane from the AA Airport. You could land right downtown.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

Unfortunately those days are gone - Daley plowed over Meigs field.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

It's absolutely amazing how all the pilots and aircraft owners fill up these BLOGS and somehow persuade the city council (how do they do that?) to support something that benefits few and troubles many. The airport when originally built was out in farm country and surrounded by Pittsfield Township. Now that the township has grown and the farms have vanished it is no longer a reasonable location. It is not "IF" but only "WHEN" a small aircraft will crash into homes nearby. The lawsuits from that crash will be breathtaking. Pittsfield Township surrounds the airport and will not allow it to expand. The airport should be closed and converted into a "green belt" and park that everyone can enjoy.

Love A2

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Take the poll and look at the numbers. The majority are either people who just drive by the airport (45%) or who have no interaction with the airport (14%) for a total of 69%. Only 23% either have flown out of the airport (22%) or work there (1%).


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Just because someone owns some property doesn't mean they are free to do whatever they want. If others are affected by those decisions their concerns need to be addressed. This isn't a lot different from requests to build multistory buildings that impact small neighborhood houses.

Linda Peck

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

If larger planes want to land and take off near Ann Arbor, let them use Willow Run or Metro. That is close enough for the larger planes. We don't need larger planes in our city and townships. Why would we want to accept this? It is increased noise and exhaust.

sandy schopbach

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

I live in the "normal" landing zone, i.e. planes landing most days fly low over my house, given the prevailing winds. Some fly VERY low. I'm against planes any bigger than those now landing. This being said, I think the questions were slanted. "Ann Arbor owns the airport AND CAN DO ANYTHING IT WANTS" is an intrinsically negative wording. Again, I don't want the airport to expand, but I think the responses you get will be slanted, based on your choice of words.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

I chose to word the response "No. Ann Arbor owns the airport and can do what it wants." like that to counter the other option and did not intend for it to be negative. The question of whether the airport should expand or not has already been introduced and debated; the real new issue here is whether Pittsfield Township should be granted any authority over this development. The city does not need the approval of the township's planning commission to move forward with the runway expansion, should the city choose to approve the expansion in the first place. It's a question of who has authority and who has the right to advise development. Ann Arbor owns the property, operates it and annexed that land before Pittsfield became a chartered township. Pittsfield Township residents live right next to it. The township board represents the residents. Should the township have any authority?


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

Agreed the first poll question is very poorly worded. A lot of people seem to be concerned about larger planes and also freight / cargo planes coming into Ann Arbor Airport. Does room even exist to have those fascilities? The airport would need other significant upgrades to handle such aircraft, which, by the way, no one is proposing. The airport is not expanding it's overall footprint, no additional land is being purchased. If this project doesn't happen my understanding is that State St can not be expanded. State St. needs to expand other wise you again choke economic growth.