A pilot who works out of McGregor Executive Airport is concerned one of the potential new sites for a Waco landfill will pose a serious safety issue to the flying public.
"Waco does not need to be the next aviation headline or sensational story about a bird strike or wildlife hazard that risks lives or potentially kills someone," JETPRO Texas Vice President Sam Starling said.
Starling is referencing US Airways Flight 1549, which was struck by geese soon after takeoff. Known as "Miracle on the Hudson," the crew safely glided the plane on the Hudson River, saving the lives of everyone on board.
Google Maps shows McGregor Executive Airport is located about two miles away from one of the potential sites for the new landfill.
"The Federal Aviation Administration clearly states that a solid waste landfill is not compatible near airports. They're a large bird attractant," Starling said.
Vultures are so large that they can cause serious damage if they hit a plane. The FAA lists them as the second-most hazardous animals.
"It can cause the engine to fail. It can cause a prop to break. It can cause the engine mounts to fail. It can cause serious loss of control for the aircraft. People's lives are at risk. This is not a discussion about trash rates, 'not in my backyard,'" he said.
Safety isn't the only concern.
McGregor Executive Airport receives federal funding from the FAA, Starling said. The regulator issued a guideline, known as an advisory circular, in 2007, which requires any new proposed landfill must be at least five miles away from an airport.
If airport officials don't fight to keep the proposed new landfill away, the FAA document states the airport could be at risk of losing its federal funding.
"McGregor's airport losing its funding would cause a slow economic death to the airport, an airport that McGregor fought so hard to keep alive," Starling said.
Central Texas News Now reporter Pattrik Simmons reached out to the city of Waco for comment. A representative with the city did not want to go on camera and instead sent the following statement by email:
"Whatever location is chosen for the new landfill, the city of Waco will comply with applicable rules and regulations."
The city announced Friday it would decide on the new landfill location within the next few weeks. According to the city, the current landfill has about seven years of life remaining.
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