October 24, 2013 – Today the Vermont Business Roundtable hosted an information session/press conference on the basing of the F35 in Vermont. Participants included Frank Cioffi, President of GBIC, Lt. Col. Chris Caputo of the Vermont Air National Guard and Dale Rocheleau, Senior Counsel at Downs Rachlin Martin.
Vermont Business Roundtable President Lisa Ventriss opened the session with the following remarks. “The Roundtable is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of chief executive officers of Vermont’s leading private and nonprofit employers, representing geographic diversity and all major sectors of the Vermont economy. have convened this session out of concern with how, in the run-up to the siting decision by the Air Force, the public discussions pertaining to the potential F35 bed down at VT Air National Guard have been muddied by opponents through the use of inflamed rhetoric, public theater, misleading statements and hyperbole.”
Frank Cioffi of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp spoke on economics and process. “VTANG provides full time fire and rescue support services to the Burlington International Airport. These services annually are valued at $2.8 million, with an additional $12 million in capital assets that would need to be replaced. Without the Air Guard providing these services and facilities the Airport (and the City of Burlington) would have to pay for the equipment, the facilities and the operational costs associated with the services.
These services and related infrastructure investments would immediately be cost-shifted onto airport operations, stressing their ability to provide competitive air service.
Any request to delay the basing must be recognized as a request to deny; the resolution before the City Council is not aimed at compromise, it is aimed to obstruct the F35 without using language that will jeopardize receipt of Federal/FAA funding.
The resolution places the City and the airport at serious financial, economic and legal risk.
The formal public comment period for the Environmental Impact Statement EIS has closed. The City of Burlington has already formally entered its issues, questions and concerns into the EIS during the public comment period. Those issues, questions and concerns are a part of the EIS. Should VTANG and Vermont be awarded the basing in the Record of Decision, the Air Force and VTANG will seek to mitigate relevant impacts addressed in the EIS.”
Lt. Col. Chris Caputo, Vermont Air National Guard stated, “The VTANG has an impeccable flight safety record, one that is 3 and a half times better than the lifetime average for the F16 nationally. Flight safety is a culture within our organization that goes far beyond just the airframe itself, whether it is an F-16 or the F-35. It is inherent within our leadership, disciplined maintenance practices, regulatory flight procedures, and flying training rules. There is no evidence to indicate that if the F-35 arrives to Burlington in the 2020 timeframe that your VTANG’s flight safety record would be any different from what it is now….which is phenomenal!”
Dale Rocheleau remarked, “The new version of the resolution announced by the F-35 opponents yesterday proposes a noise and safety standard that has not been researched for potential impacts on general aviation operations at the Burlington International Airport. This creates a very high risk of unintended consequences for airport operations. For example, the proposed aircraft safety standard, based on the F-16’s exemplary safety record in Vermont and around the country, may adversely affect the ability of general aviation aircraft to use the airport. Whether or not you use the F-16’s Vermont Accident rate of .926 Class A mishaps per 100,000 flight hours or the National F-16 Accident rate of 3.55, General Aviation aircraft have a higher accident rate nationally and may not be allowed to use the Burlington International Airport. According to data about airport operations, the proposed safety standard may prohibit approximately 50% of civilian flight operations at Burlington.”
Rocheleau continued, “We also intend to inform the city council and the city attorney about cases under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution that say, in effect, Congress must explicitly consent to state and local government regulation of the military’s use of certain materials or equipment, such as certain aircraft. The F-35 opponents have provided the city with no evidence that Congress has granted clear, unambiguous authorization for the Vermont Air National Guard to be subjected to aircraft noise and safety standards. Consequently, if such Congressional authorization does not exist, the new regulation sought by F-35 opponents could be ruled unconstitutional in a court of law.”
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