H-SANTA MARIA

Jan 23, 2013 9:36 PM by Nikki Ibarra

Local pilots and airport leaders will meet Thursday to discuss new taxiway plan at Santa Maria Public Airport

A change at the Santa Maria Public Airport has some local pilots concerned it could cause planes to run into each other.

The airport told KSBY's Nikki Ibarra the plan is safe and is required by the Federal Aviation Administration as part of the airport's extension project.

The taxiway is currently labeled with letters. The airport will soon add numbers to those letters and some pilots said this will confuse them.

Mitch Latting has been flying planes for more than 40 years, and said the existing plan is simple and shouldn't be changed. "We believe the FAA and the airport people have misinterpreted these guidelines because it is anything but simple and logical," said Latting.

But airport General Manager Chris Hastert said it's needed, as the airport only plans on growing. "It didn't fit our current system so we had to redo the airport. In this new plan, we actually planned for the future as well so other taxi ways that will be coming in the future development are already included in this plan," said Hastert.

Hastert said he understands the frustration that comes with change. In fact, KSBY learned some air traffic controllers were asked for input. But, according to Latting, that's not enough. "It's not that we can't figure it out and adapt to it and become aware. It's a complication issue. It doesn't need to be that complicated to get from A to B in the airport," added Latting.

Local pilots will discuss the issues Thursday night at 7 with the airport board.

Hastert told KSBY the airport extension project cost a little over 12 million, but the majority of that has been funded by the FAA.

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