Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Friedman imposes flight restrictions

Some flights banned during heavy traffic hours

Express Staff Writer

Some private flights into Friedman Memorial Airport will be banned during peak airport-use periods this coming summer. Express photo

Because an unprecedented crunch of arriving and departing aircraft at the end of the July 4 holiday weekend, Friedman Memorial Airport officials have decided to restrict operations during some hours only to aircraft on instrument flight plans.

Rick Baird, airport manager, said the field would be closed Tuesday, July 5, to all VFR (Visual Flight Rules) arriving traffic between noon and 8:30 p.m. Only aircraft on IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight plans would be allowed during those hours.

That's the day when July 4 holiday visitors would be leaving and corporate jets of media executives attending the annual Allen & Co. retreat would be arriving. Baird estimates the airport will rack up 300 to 400 operations in one day.

A similar ban on VFR arrivals will be in place on July 10 between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. because of the departure of corporate jets at the end of the Allen & Co. conference. IFR aircraft under radar control of Salt Lake Air Route Traffic Control Center can be sequenced to land at Friedman at closer intervals to keep traffic moving.

In addition, Baird said that parking for the private jets would be on a first-come-first-served basis. Once all ramp parking slots have been taken, Baird said jets must then go to Twin Falls or Boise or some other airport.

The restrictions will be published nationally as NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) that warn of the restrictions.

Up to 50 percent of the field's available ramp space was eliminated when Sun Valley Aviation's facility and adjoining parking areas were demolished after the company moved to a new location on the southwest corner of the field.

Friedman faces another major jam of aircraft in September, when corporate executives invited by the Dalai Lama to attend a three-day spiritual conclave will arrive in their jets. Although 500 senior executives have been invited, Baird said he has no firm idea of how many might descend on the field in corporate jets, but that restrictions are likely when more details become available of the meeting's guest list.

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