Friday, August 8, 2008

FAA gives Friedman operation top grade

Express Staff Writer

Unlike the bad old days of years ago, Friedman Memorial Airport is now regarded as ship-shape and graded by the Federal Aviation Administration as zero-flawed.

Like all airports, Friedman is subject to periodic recertification by the FAA under the regulation FAR Part 139.

Airport manager Rick Baird announced to the Friedman governing board Tuesday night that he'd been notified by the FAA that Friedman had come through a rigorous inspection with nary a flaw, as far as the FAA is concerned.

That's not the way it used to be, chimed in airport attorney Barry Luboviski. There was a time when the FAA submitted "pages and pages of violations" at the airport.

FAR 139 requires an inspection of literally hundreds of airport systems, facilities and equipment for recertification. The 22 sections of FAR 139 cover such major items as fire and rescue equipment down to properly maintained runway and taxiway signs and lighting.

However, the recertification does not remove the operating waiver imposed by the FAA on Friedman. The field has been declared out of compliance with safety guidelines. Some aircraft using the airport are larger than Friedman was designed to handle.

A new generation of so-called C-III aircraft have landing speeds and wing lengths that are above the design standard of Friedman. As a result, when Horizon Air's Bombardier Q400 lands or takeoffs, all other aircraft operations are halted. The same is true of the new Gulfstream V and Bombardier Global Express corporate jets.

Studies to find a replacement airport site are underway.

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