April 28, 2017

NBAA is encouraging business aviation stakeholders operating around Las Vegas, NV to weigh in on the FAA’s evaluation of a proposed stadium less than a mile from McCarran International Airport (LAS), and its potential effects on aviation operations over the city.

The proposed sports facility is centered on the “Trop 42” state-owned land plot set aside for use by the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV). The FAA’s Obstruction/Evaluation (OE) assessment determined that the new building would pose no significant impact to current and future IFR operations at LAS, despite its location approximately 1,690 feet northwest of the approach threshold of Runway 19R.

“The FAA’s determination that this facility won’t have an impact on existing or future approaches isn’t accurate,” said NBAA Access Committee member Keith Gordon, who also serves as co-lead representing NBAA in the FAA’s Las Vegas Metroplex airspace reconfiguration project. “We’re building PBN (performance based navigation) approaches to Runway 19L and 19R, but those don’t appear to have been considered in the OE.”

Gordon also expressed concern with the stadium’s size, with recent capacity estimates more than double the 28,000 seats initially proposed.

“Parking area and stadium lighting, LED scoreboards, fireworks and laser light shows all represent potential hazards [to aviation],” he said. “We’ve already seen in other locations how troublesome it can be for aircraft operating on approach paths near sports facilities.”

The larger seating capacity would also bring TFRs over stadium events, a major obstacle to general aviation operations at LAS and nearby North Las Vegas Airport (VGT).

“General aviation, including business aviation, has a significant presence in Las Vegas, and frequent TFRs would certainly complicate those operations,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure.

The comment period on the OE has been extended through Aug. 6, and NBAA advises members that would be affected by possible flight restrictions in the area to promptly review the OE and submit their comments.

“We certainly support economic growth throughout the greater Las Vegas region,” Williams concluded. “However, it appears that several factors haven’t been considered in this proposal, and we believe an alternative location should be selected to preserve the safety, efficiency and economic vitality of the city’s aviation community.”

Review the FAA Obstruction/Evaluation for Proposed UNLV Stadium. (PDF)