Opening Brief Filed in Appeal to Stop Construction of New Parallel Runway at Hillsboro

The red box below presents a copy of the latest Post by Oregon Aviation Watch. It concerns the construction of a new parallel runway at Hillsboro Airport in Oregon [KHIO].

Two facts are driving this unnecessary construction:

  1. FAA has free money to award. Well, sort of free. FAA collects billions every year from airline passenger fees and air cargo taxes, and then doles out these funds to airport projects all over the country. Many times, though, these AIP projects are not needed and are actually just ‘pork’ used to create temporary jobs and help reelect incumbent officials. Sort of like ‘bridges to nowhere’.
  2. The Hillsboro parallel runway is NOT needed at all. In fact, this airport has seen a substantial reduction in itinerant air traffic operations (takeoffs and landings) in the past two decades. In 2013, there were 73,000 itinerant operations, down 24% from the peak year 1997, when there were 96,000 itinerant operations. KHIO has an exceptionally high portion of local ‘training pattern’ flights, mostly connected with Hillsboro Aviation’s helicopter pilot program. [BTW, this mirrors the national trend, where  total operations are down 25% from the year 2000]

In its ongoing quest for consideration of the local community and accountability in the proposed expansion of Hillsboro Airport, Oregon Aviation Watch has filed its opening brief in its latest appeal.

In keeping with their characteristically cavalier attitude towards using public money to promote private business interests at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO), the Port of Portland (Port) began constructing a third runway in early August. The purpose of the runway is to accommodate flight training primarily on behalf of Hillsboro Aviation – a company that recruits students from around the globe then proceeds to train them over our homes and neighborhoods. Recreational pilots are also major beneficiaries of this arrangement.

The more than $17 million lavished on the Port to cover the costs of this expansion are publicly subsidized in large part with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funds and ConnectOregon handouts.

Earlier this summer, Oregon Aviation Watch filed a motion for an injunction pending a decision on the merits of the case so that the case could be reviewed by the court prior to construction. Unfortunately, our petition was denied. Needless to say, we were extremely disappointed by this ruling.

Nonetheless, after careful deliberation and in light of a recent outpouring of contributions from the community in response to our 7/31/14 email fundraising request, Oregon Aviation Watch has decided to move forward with the challenge to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) conclusion that adding a third runway at the Hillsboro Airport will have no significant impact on the human environment.

Though we fell short of our $9,000 goal, the contributions received so far have bolstered our confidence in our ability to raise enough money to cover legal expenses. Sean Malone, Attorney for Oregon Aviation Watch, submitted our opening brief on 8/11/14.

Oregon Aviation Watch is urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to moving forward with this project. In the 84 years, during which HIO has grown from a grassy airstrip into the largest general aviation airport in the state, the Port of Portland has never taken a hard look nor has it engaged in a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the environmental impacts of this facility.

We are sincerely grateful to all community members who have supported Oregon Aviation Watch and other airport appeals in the past. Your willingness to stand behind this effort is sincerely appreciated and your words of encouragement along the way have been invaluable.

We still need to raise additional money. This is an all volunteer effort. All contributions go directly towards covering legal costs. Thank you for your support! Donations can be sent to:

Oregon Aviation Watch
PO Box 838
Banks, Oregon 97106

Contributions can also be made by clicking on the menu bar DONATE button at www.oregonaviationwatch.org.

Oregon Aviation Watch is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax exempt. Our Tax ID Number is 27-3131841.

…and here are links to the many informative Posts done by OAW in the past five months…


Oregon Aviation Watch has been tireless in their efforts to get FAA, the Port of Portland, and a few community officials to listen to those who are impacted at Hillsboro. The vast majority of KHIO’s toxic lead and excessive noise is being created by the Hillsboro Aviation flight instruction program. And, much of it is by especially noisy low-altitude helicopters. Many people are being adversely impacted, while just a few are reaping enormous financial profits. This is exactly the sort of airport expansion for which Congress insisted FAA must fully engage impacted citizens. And yet, FAA and the Port of Portland are working together to disempower those same citizens.

If you are concerned about the situation at Hillsboro in particular or the abuse of power by aviation officials in general, please consider helping Oregon Aviation Watch with the costs of their legal efforts. Here is a link to the OAW donation webpage.