Sacramento County OKs lease for flight school

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013 - 6:57 pm

A Taiwanese airline is at least three years away from building a flight training school at Sacramento Executive Airport, and officials are anticipating questions from nearby residents.

Sacramento County supervisors, before signing off on a lease with EVA Airlines on Tuesday, urged officials with the company and county staff to let the public know how the school will operate.

"We don't want to get off to a bad start with the city and the county neighbors," said Supervisor Don Nottoli, who added that the airport is in Sacramento and city officials will be involved with the project.

In response to supervisor questions about the school's operation, Ricardo Nunez, executive director of the EVA Flight Training Academy, said it will use small, general aviation planes, not jets, and they won't make any more noise than other planes at the airport.

The school will operate in the day and early evening, the airport's normal hours, Nunez said.

Supervisors approved a lease with EVA on Tuesday. EVA plans to start off in an existing building at the airport on Freeport Boulevard between Florin and Fruitridge roads.

It will conduct flight classes for a small number of students as it goes through an approval process with the Federal Aviation Administration.

By 2016, EVA, which carries 6 million passengers a year, hopes to have a new building for a school with up to 100 students, Nunez said. The students will eventually fly the company's planes.

The company eventually plans to hire 35 local residents to work there, Nunez said.

"This is the perfect fit," said Supervisor Jimmie Yee, whose district includes the airport. "It's like a gem that fell out of the sky."

Far from falling out of the sky, the airline was helped in its decision by Yee, who put the company in touch with neighborhood groups around the airport. Yee said establishing good relationships with the groups is important to EVA.

Nunez concurred. "We are looking forward to establishing a long and productive relationship in this beautiful capital city," he told supervisors.

Call The Bee's Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @bradb_at_sacbee.

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