Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New data on airport?s landing system available

Airport board meeting slated for tonight

Express Staff Writer

CD recordings of landing approaches by a volunteer pilot using Friedman Memorial Airport's installed but as-yet-uncertified and unused Transponder Landing System are now being analyzed to work out a minor glitch to obtain certification for the all-weather apparatus.

The status of the TLS and whether and when SkyWest Airlines will begin using it will be discussed during the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority's meeting tonight, Jan. 10.

Over the past several months, a Friedman-based pilot, Steven Garman, has flown more than 50 approaches on the TLS in three different aircraft—most in small Cessna 180 and Cessna 185 so-called "tail dragger" private aircraft, and two approaches in a Learjet 60, one of corporate aviation's fastest, most powerful high-performance jets. Garman operates the Lear as Sun Valley Air jet charter service.

"I think the TLS is marvelous," Garman told the Mountain Express this week. "It works very well ... and although it's still being 'tweaked,' I'm a believer."

The only glitch involved a few degrees of variation in the expected and actual radial (compass) readings off the airport's Non Directional Beacon (NDB). However, Garman said that problem could be eliminated by technical explanations.

The CDs recorded digital representations of the approaches, not actual in-flight aircraft.

Although aircraft speed has no effect on the usability of TLS, Garman's Lear made approaches in the range of 156 miles per hour and in the Cessnas at well under 100 mph. Turboprop aircraft flown by SkyWest Airlines and Horizon Air make landing approaches in the 135 miles-per-hour range.

TLS lacks the full range of components of an Instrument Landing System (ILS), which provides a flight crew with vertical and horizontal positioning of the aircraft on its approach. TLS provides only runway alignment information to a cockpit instrument needle; the pilot must use the on-board altimeter for maintaining altitude.

Friedman has been attempting to get an operational TLS for some 10 years. But the Federal Aviation Administration has delayed certification, while flirting with other systems that usually are abandoned.

Once installed, the TLS could allow airline flights to land in lower weather ceilings.

In other matters scheduled for the authority meeting:

- Denver aviation attorney Peter Kirsch, contracted as a consultant by Friedman, will outline the procedure and score of the Environmental Impact Statement required by the FAA for selecting a site for a new airport to replace Friedman. The board also will be presented with a wordy outline of why a new airport is needed.

- The Blaine County Air Transportation Advisory Group (BCATAG) will report that the group meets weekly fashioning a proposal to be presented to Frontier Airlines justifying a new Denver route and daily service to Friedman.

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