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News Release

Release #01.79
August 10, 2001

Pilots Question Impact of Proposed Stadium On Capacity and Flight Operations In Phoenix

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The largest pilot union in the world, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, is calling for a thorough review of plans to build a 200 ft. tall stadium near the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Plans for the intended stadium and surrounding buildings currently put the construction at just 450 ft. off of the centerline of the northern most runway, and just over two miles from its eastern end. 450 ft is just slightly more than two Boeing 777 aircraft placed side-by-side, giving pilot safety experts reason to question whether that distance is sufficient.

In a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration sent out yesterday, ALPA President Captain Duane E. Woerth called for the FAA to circulate the proposal regarding the stadium construction for comment from interested organizations and government groups that could be impacted by the project. Woerth noted in the letter that ALPA represents the majority of pilots flying into Sky Harbor, and that pilots are concerned that the stadium could be hazardous to safe flight operation due to the location, height and bright lights associated with it.

"Any project that has a potential to impact this nation’s air space system needs careful scrutiny," said Woerth. "With the air space system already near maximum capacity, something that affects one of the busiest airports in the country would ultimately affect many others as well – it’s a domino effect."

Reconstruction of this northern runway was completed in May 2001 at a cost of nearly $70 million — half of which came from the federal Airport Improvement Program, and the other half from passenger facility charges. The reconstruction gives the airport important capacity enhancements, such as the ability for intercontinental jumbo jets to take off fully loaded at maximum gross weights. If the proposed stadium is built and deemed an operational hazard, it could deter intercontinental heavyweight aircraft from utilizing the runway and the Phoenix airport.

To date, detailed information has been unavailable for the proposed construction, and neither the FAA nor interested groups have had the opportunity to do any in-depth analyses to determine whether the project would be a hazard to flight. In addition to requesting that the proposal be circulated, ALPA has also called for a public hearing on the controversial matter.

"Our pilots are asking us to evaluate the proposed construction in light of the possible hazards that it could pose to flight operations," said Woerth. "By way of the circular and public hearing, all interested parties could voice their concerns and work together for an acceptable plan that meets everyone’s requirements."

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, ALPA is the world’s oldest and largest pilots union, representing 67,000 members at 47 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. ALPA’s motto is "Schedule With Safety." Visit the ALPA Website at http://cf.alpa.org.

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ALPA CONTACT: Anya Piazza, John Mazor (703) 481-4440