Friday, April 12, 2013

Airport upgrades hit stumbling block

FAA may not approve runway separation


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

A plan for improvements at Friedman Memorial Airport’s current site hit a roadblock this month when a consultant said the Federal Aviation Administration might not approve elements of the proposed design.

During an Airport Authority meeting Tuesday, Dave Mitchell, corporate vice president of consulting firm T-O Engineers, said he has been discussing plans to bring the airport into compliance with FAA design standards. 

The plan is to relocate and extend the airport’s taxiways and relocate airport hangars to bring the runway safety area into compliance with C-III standards. The approach was developed as a response to a congressional mandate that requires airports that allow the larger and faster C-III planes to have a runway safety area that complies with standards by 2015.

Though C-III aircraft—such as the Horizon Air Q400 turboprop—currently fly into Friedman Memorial Airport, they are only allowed by special agreement with the federal-contract airport control tower and the FAA.

Mitchell said most aspects of the plan have been supported by the FAA, including “modifications of standards,” procedures that would allow certain aircraft to operate at the airport even though some elements of the airport do not fit design standards.

He said the FAA has told him that the main problem is the planned separation between the runway and taxiways. The FAA requires 400 feet of separation between the two, but the plan calls for only 320 feet.

Mitchell said that based on the wingspan of planes that would be using the airport, 320 feet should be adequate, even using the FAA’s own design software. However, he said that in discussions, representatives from the FAA told him that the only way they would accept that amount of separation was if there were no planes on the taxiway when C-III planes were landing or taking off, and if no planes were on the runway when C-III planes were on the taxiway.

“There are many problems with that, but part of why we were moving the taxiway is so we didn’t have to do these things,” Mitchell said. “Operationally, this would be very difficult to manage.”

Mitchell said discussions are continuing with the FAA and he plans to argue that the restrictions, with the amount of human error involved in sterilizing the runway and taxiways, would actually be less safe than simply approving the modification.

County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg asked how runway sterilization would occur if the air traffic control tower closes as a result of lost funding from federal budget cuts. Airport Manager Rick Baird said that it was possible, but undesirable.

“It would slow this airport down to an unacceptable level,” he said. “It just wouldn’t work.”

Baird and Mitchell said they plan to meet with the FAA on April 16 and 17 to further discuss the plans.


Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

 




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2014 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.