Marion County officials site safety concerns over skydivers at M - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Marion County officials site safety concerns over skydivers at Marion County airport

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

The owner of a popular skydiving business worries proposed restrictions could cause profits to plummet. County officials want skydivers to find a new place to land, siting safety concerns.

It all comes down to where skydivers land. County officials say an airport and skydivers don’t mix, but Justin Silvia says jumpers are safe. Each year, more than 20,000 skydivers take the plunge with Chattanooga Skydiving, completing their jump at the Marion County Airport.

Now county officials want these thrill seekers touching down elsewhere.

“Some question as to the compatibility with our parachuting at the airport, and I believe there is a lack of understanding of technical rules that establish rules with skydiving at airports,” said Silvia.

The county attorney tells our partners the Times Free Press, the county doesn’t want to stop Justin Silvia from operating, but questions if it would be safer to have jumpers land somewhere else.

Read more from our partners the Times Free Press.

With 20,000 jumps under his belt, Silvia said the business record speaks for itself.

“At the Marion County Airport there is no traffic. I say 7,000 take offs and landings a year, which is 20 a day.”

He said it is convenient for his customers to land on the airport grass, they can then simply walk back to their vehicles. Landing somewhere else would require a van to transport customers elsewhere, an added expense. One Silva said isn't justified by the number of planes taking off and landing.

“We in 2014 did 1,400 take off and landings documented in our computer base. I would say that is 90% of the traffic in 2014. There is not a type of volume of traffic that will cause the type of conflict with the FAA that they might consider to be some sort of regulatory thing that they would have to step in to.”

Silvia said he is most confused by the county wanting to restrict him because he said he did everything right when the business first opened.

“We're an established business at the airport. We sought permission from the beginning in 2012, which they granted, which we have.”

We attempted multiple times in person and over the phone to speak with county officials about the proposed changes. Our calls were not returned.

The county airport board has ordered an informal safety review by the Federal Aviation Authority, which will decide if the landing location is safe.

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