Citing the "frustrations" of trying since 1994 to inaugurate an all-weather landing system for Friedman Memorial Airport, airport manager Rick Baird said this week a new private electronics firm might be able to design a system that would an acceptable landing approach for pilots using on-board GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) navigation equipment.
Baird told the airport authority Tuesday night that a study could be completed within 6 months and, if workable and approved by the board, could be developed and put through the Federal Aviation Administration's approval process within a year.
Baird later identified the company as ASRC Research and Technology Solutions of Minneapolis. He put no price tag on the project.
Friedman has a $1 million Transponder Landing System installed, but not certified by the FAA. SkyWest Airlines has considered using the TLS, but has not agreed to pay operating costs.
"The FAA doesn't like TLS," Baird told the board.
Member Dr. Ron Fairfax observed that the FAA's onetime infatuation with satellite-based WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) has cooled. Approved WAAS approaches are listed at Boise's Gowen Field and airports at Pocatello and Idaho Falls. "If anything is done (about a weather landing system), it will have to be a private company," he added.
Without some approved landing approach with lower weather minimums (cloud ceilings and horizontal visibility), SkyWest Airlines and Horizon Air won't land in inclement weather and either cancel or divert flights.
Baird's recent contact with ASRC followed the airport board's refusal to approve landings from the north over the city of Hailey by Horizon, which would have a far safer "missed approach" without mountainous terrain to the south.