Response to COTAR’s Objectives


The Coalition for Torrance Airport Reform has published a list of objectives on their web site. We’d like to address them here.

COTAR Objective 1: End flight training over residential areas.


Since flight training is a part of our critical infrastructure, and since the FAA has the sole authority to regulate aircraft operations and the use of our National Airspace System (NAS), flight training and other aviation activities will continue over both residential and non-residential areas.

Flight training often occurs in areas of population, since flight training serves the local residents who choose aviation as a career pathway. Flight schools are ‘local’ businesses in that they primarily serve community members who live within driving distance of the school. Setting up flight schools ‘in the desert’ is not convenient to local prospective pilots.

Flight Training is Critical. Flight Training is Essential.

CISA has identified flight training as a part of our critical infrastructure. Without flight training there are no new pilots and existing pilots lose their pilot privileges. Without flight training there would be no air transportation, no airfreight, no next day delivery, no medical evacuation, and no organ delivery.

Should I be afraid of aircraft operating in the skies above?

No! Aircraft accidents that result in fatalities on the ground are incredibly rare. They are rare because pilots are trained to select large unoccupied areas during emergency landings to prevent injuring people on the ground. In terms of statistics, there is a far greater chance of dying in a car accident, from accidental poisoning or from a fall than from an airplane falling from the sky.

Because the risk of injury or death from an aircraft is so low, lower than the risk of injury or death from a car crash, there should be no expectation that this activity would be regulated against sooner than cars being outlawed. And, since the airspace above all cities is part of the NAS, regulated by the FAA, there should be no expectation that any particular city could prevent aircraft from flying overhead, even if there was no airport in/near the city (or if the airport was closed down to try to prevent aircraft overflights).

Should Aircraft Operators Still Fly Neighborly?

Yes! Through working with the community to learn about noise-sensitive areas, and then spreading this information amongst the pilot community, all pilots and operators should avoid these areas as much as possible. We call for all pilots and operators to take the Fly Friendly Pledge at

COTAR Objective 2: Reduce airport operations to acceptable levels (i.e., 2010-2020 averages).


Air traffic and flight training activity is cyclical. It goes up and down in response to demand. Right now there is a severe commercial pilot shortage worldwide, which has increased demand for pilots. Starting pay for airline pilots has increased to unprecedented-in-recent-times levels, encouraging more people to enter the career path.

When analyzing the graph, you can see that although flight operations are up in the last 5 years they are nowhere near prior levels. Moreover, they are not expected to increase beyond this level, since the current Air Traffic Control Tower norm is to limit aircraft in the traffic pattern to 5-6 aircraft (in decades prior it was not uncommon to have more than 10 aircraft in the traffic pattern at a given time).

The graph of the COTAR web site purposefully cherry picks a very short data range to show an increase in flight operations in the last few years:


Looking back a little further shows an overall decrease over time with an uptick in recent years at many airports:



All airline pilots start their flight training at small general aviation airports like Torrance Airport.

There is a severe commercial pilot shortage worldwide, which has increased demand for pilots.

When analyzing the graph, you can see that our current numbers are still not at the peak of what they were prior.

This is a natural fluctuation in trends, and rises and falls in response to the demand for pilots.

All airline pilots start their flight training at small general aviation airports like Torrance Airport.

COTAR Objective 3: Improve enforcement of noise violations.


While aircraft seldom exceed noise limits imposed by cities, all flight schools and aircraft operators expect that any exceedances will be enforced according to ordinance.


COTAR Objective 4: Eliminate leaded fuel from airport.


The Federal Government and aviation industry groups (highlighted by the partnership are well on the way to the objective of eliminating lead in aviation gasoline by 2030. Several companies have been testing unleaded alternatives with mostly-positive results. The issue is a little more complicated than it seems at first glance, and as always when it comes to aviation, safety is the most important consideration. Right now 100LL Avgas (aviation fuel with a minimal amount of lead in it) is the required fuel for many piston engines Certified by the Federal Government (FAA). Avgas fuels the majority of the General Aviation piston fleet nationwide. And, while it would be convenient to think it could immediately be switched out for an Unleaded alternative it unfortunately is more complex than that. Recently, a large university training program switched back to 100LL Avgas after an extensive test of an Unleaded alternative because of unexpected engine damage concerns (story here:

The transition will certainly happen, but the time-frame is a little longer than we’d all hope.

COTAR Objective 5: Improve management of the airport.


Agreed. Torrance Airport is a gem of the South Bay. Airports such as Torrance Airport contribute to the local economy, provide a critical resource in the case of local disaster and provide thousands of jobs as well as many other benefits. For this reason airports require sound stewardship from their managers, for what they are now and for what they will be in the future. In California alone, General Aviation, facilitated by airports like Torrance Airport, provides for 148,000 jobs, a $32.8 Billion contribution to the economy (reference: Pricewaterhouse Coopers Contribution of General Aviation to the US Economy in 2018 study) and the sector comprises a huge 4.2% of the state’s GDP (reference: AOPA State of General Aviation 2019).