On September 14, a number of members of the Planning Advisory Committee (the planning committee appointed by Oregon Dept. of Transportation to provide planning input on the air traffic control tower) wrote a letter of protest to ODA documenting their concerns that the tower project was being rushed to a pre-determined conclusion by ODA and their consultant, WH Pacific. Among the cited concerns:

  • master planning process is being rushed on a condensed schedule
  • air traffic control tower is being actively pursued prior to development of the new master plan
  • the role of the PAC has been deliberately marginalized
  • the above is not the meaningful, due process input the FAA intends in their Master Plan process.

While the members of the PAC sending this letter represent the numerical minority of members, they represent the non-aviation members on the Committee and have been making the case for the need for master planning in advance of tower construction.

In late October ODA released the first three chapters of the Draft Aurora Airport Master Plan. This document, prepared by WH Pacific further confirmed concerns about the pre-determined goals and outcomes, because the Draft Master Plan document contained data laying the foundation to enable future lengthening and strengthening of the runway.

Specifically, runway lengthening is controlled by FAA policy:

E.1 Runway Length Requirements for Airport Design (AC 150/5325-4B)

In determining recommended runway lengths, the FAA uses a five step procedure based upon a selected list of critical aircraft. The five steps include:

  1. Identify the list of critical design airplanes that will make regular use of the proposed runway for an established period of at least five years.
  2. Identify airplanes or family of airplanes that will require the longest runway lengths at maximum certified takeoff weight (MTOW).
  3. Using Table 1-1 of AC 150/5325-4B and the airplanes identified in Step #2, determine the method that will be used for establishing the recommended runway length based upon useful load and service needs of critical design aircraft or family of aircraft.
  4. Select the recommended runway length from among the various runway lengths generated in Step 3 using the process identified in Chapter 2, 3 or 4 of AC 150/5325-4B, as applicable.
  5. Apply any necessary adjustment (i.e. pavement gradient, pavement condition (wet or dry), etc.)

In response to this document, Clackamas County legal staff prepared a letter requesting explanation and clarification from ODA regarding two important elements of future growth. The first was a projected increase in annual jet aircraft traffic, above and beyond the one time growth experienced by the South Park Jet Center. The second derives from the first, specifically the designation of the “critical aircraft” to be a Citation X. This is a much larger and heavier jet, capable of coast-to-coast non-stop flights, and presently none are based at the Aurora Airport.

It appears that these elements of the forecast in the Master Plan are purposefully included to justify continued airport expansion and lengthening of the runway—in spite of public declaration that airport expansion is not a goal of the tower project.

Of note, ODA’s application for ConnectOregon III funding to construct the tower included letter from Xerox Corp. in November, 2009. It not only stated support for air traffic control tower, but went on to discuss runway lengthening.

General aviation and corporate traffic has steadily been on the rise in this prime location Having a control tower. adding an ILS and increasing the runway length by 500 to 1000 feet will not only increase safety. it will expedite traffic in and out of the area and attract even more business aircraft to KUAO that will have a positive impact on the economy

From the above it appears quite clear that the aviation interests pushing for the air traffic control tower have more than improved safety in view. They know full well that an air traffic control tower is a major infrastructure improvement to the airport and will drive aviation growth and airport expansion. They, along with ODA, and apparently aided and abetted by the FAA, are diligently working to avoid any of the master planning required by Oregon State land use laws.


The Aurora Airport Master Plan web page, providing an overview of the project and process, with documents and new updates can be found at: www.aurorastateairport.org.

Chapters of the current Master Plan are posted as released, and can be accessed, read and downloaded at: www.aurorastateairport.org/?p=chapters

The Chapters page also includes a link for citizens to make comments on the Master Planning process.