The continuing campaign to resurrect the closed downtown Chicago Meigs Field airport, which was mostly used by business aircraft, has been given a boost by the US Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA has fined the city for closing the airport without obtaining the statutory permission to do so.

Chicago's mayor Richard Daly acted summarily by bulldozing the runway overnight on 30 March 2003 to make it unusable, on the grounds that Meigs' position, on the shore of Lake Michigan, made a "9/11" type terrorist attack on the city centre more likely.

FAA Great Lakes region representative Tony Molinaro says the city has 30 days in which to pay the $33,000 fine, but during that period the agency would be happy for the mayor's office to "argue its case" or take the issue to court.

The FAA is also investigating whether the city improperly used federal aviation funds intended for improvements at Chicago's main O'Hare international airport to fund the Meigs demolition, which is continuing. Daly wants the area converted to parkland.

Meanwhile, a number of organisations, led by the Friends of Meigs Field, have published plans to have the area converted into a combination of parkland and an aviation theme park, complete with a working airport on the existing site at Meigs Field, and an aviation museum.

The organisation argues that Meigs Field, far from being a dangerous site, is an operations centre for helicopter air ambulance and rescue services.

Source: Flight International