FAA to Study Fullerton Radio Tower Risk

Sunday, October 21, 2007
FAA to study radio tower risk Fullerton and Caltrans say KFI tower in La Mirada would be pilot hazard.
By ERIC CARPENTER
The Orange County (CA) Register

FULLERTON – The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to further study whether a reconstructed radio tower would threaten the safety of pilots flying in and out of Fullerton Municipal Airport. The previous tower at the La Mirada site less than two miles northwest of the airport was toppled and destroyed in 2004 when a small plane slammed into it, killing the pilot and his wife. The FAA review comes in response to petitions filed by the city of Fullerton and the aeronautical division of the California Department of Transportation that say, in essence, that the tower poses an obvious hazard because a tower in that spot has already killed two people.

“It’s very encouraging to know that they will take another look and that state transportation officials are re-enforcing that it could be a risk,” said Rod Propst, manager of the Fullerton Airport.

The FAA previously made a determination that a rebuilt tower would pose “no greater risk” than the previous tower.

La Mirada City Planner Rueben Arceo did not return phone calls seeking comment. But he has said that his department agrees with the initial FAA findings. “We think a little more study will verify that,” he said last March.

At the time, La Mirada officials decided to further study the issue and pulled back on approving plans. That city’s Planning Commission is set to review an environmental-impact report about the tower on Nov. 15.

Local pilots and Fullerton officials have strongly opposed plans to rebuild the tower to 684 feet. The old tower rose to 760 feet.

Critics say anything taller than 500 feet would pose a high risk to pilots. Last Tuesday, the Fullerton City Council passed a unanimous resolution opposing the location and height of the tower.

The FAA must finish its review before the La Mirada City Council could give the tower final consideration.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said officials there are reviewing the petitions and likely will have an opinion by the end of November.

“We’re just happy they’re giving it a good look,” Propst said.

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