Feb. 27, 2009


The Phoenix metroplex is a Pac-Man of progress, munching its way west. The city-owned Glendale Municipal Airport (GEU), a 477-acre facility located five miles west of Glendale and 30 minutes from Phoenix, is bracketed by growth along the Aqua Fria Freeway (Loop 101) to the east, I-10 to the south and Luke Air Force Base five miles to the west.

At the edge of the 4,000-foot, Class-B floor, GEU is a designated reliever for Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), which is 18 miles east. As a sign of the value of GEU to the general aviation (GA) community, GA operations at PHX have plummeted over the past decade, with much of the traffic preferring to use GEU.

GPS-LPV instrument approaches serve both ends of the 7,150-by-100-foot Runway 1/19, and procedures to avoid noise-sensitive areas north and southeast of the airport are signs of the importance the industry places on adherence to fly-quiet policies in recognition of nearby real estate development.

The control tower at Glendale operates from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends. More than three-quarters of the 400 GEU-based aircraft are piston singles. The remainder include turbines, piston twins, helicopters and light aircraft. There are 10 business operators based at GEU, flying a mix of piston and turbine aircraft. The twostory, 18,000-square-foot terminal offers meeting space for businesspeople and counts a restaurant and car rental companies among its tenants.

As a result of the economic value of an expanding Phoenix metroplex, Glendale is updating its master plan with help from a 15-member advisory committee that includes representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Arizona Department of Transportation, local planning and zoning commission, real estate developers, economic development agencies, pilots and residents.

Despite the generally positive outlook for Glendale, access to the airport is threatened by plans to erect a number of tall office buildings to the east of the field. One proposal calls for a 492-foot-tall structure east of the control tower, which would interfere with Glendale’s traffic pattern. Because of the location of Luke Air Force Base, flying west out of GEU is not an option. The FAA recently issued a number of “presumed hazard airspace determinations” regarding the proposed tall buildings.

NBAA, which is urging airport users to provide input on this issue, recently sent a letter to the Glendale Planning Commission, expressing the Association’s concern about the possible negative impact that the proposed tall buildings would have on operations at Glendale. In the letter, NBAA’s Dan Burkhart, director of regional programs, said, “As the Planning Commission begins to examine proposals for additional development of tall structures, we trust you will be mindful not to approve incompatible development near the airport, which would serve to jeopardize air traffic safety and access.”