Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

June 28, 2014

Autocross

FAA might approve event, if we give it the chance

— Every once in a while a simple answer can be found for a complicated problem. That would seem to be the case in the autocross controversy being played out before the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority.

Can the autocross event be held without jeopardizing federal airport funding or operations at the airport? That is the crux of the issue.

Writing to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Michael P. Huerta, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, has offered to run interference, if you will, for the airport authority to determine if the FAA sees a workable solution to the problem.

In the letter, Huerta said the FAA does not encourage nonaeronautical uses of an airport. But he also said it may be that the FAA will approve Cumberland’s request autocross permission.

“It is true that failure to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements can jeopardize the airport's access to future AlP grants, as well as incurring other financial damages for the airport. However, it is our hope that (the Potomac Highlands authority) will provide the necessary information and enable us to prevent that circumstance from arising in this case. We will ask our Washington Airports District Office to reach out to (the authority) and provide assistance in developing the needed information. If (the authority) is willing to provide this information, it is possible that a solution can be found.”

The local airport board should seize on the opportunity to have the FAA give a thumbs up or thumbs down for the auto event.

Given the economic benefit of the autocross — said to be a total of $3 million in the 11 years it has been held — it behooves the airport authority accept Huerta’s offer. Otherwise, the airport board will continue to do nothing but bicker — all the while jeopardizing the possibility of a 2014 autocross event.

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