Friday, December 4, 2009

After FAA land sells, Friedman shrinks by half

Large, private jets would not have adequate runway length

Express Staff Writer

The size of the Friedman Memorial Airport property would shrink considerably when the FAA sells land that it controls. Courtesy graphic

Even if the city of Hailey rescinded its decision to close Friedman Memorial Airport and found ways to pay for operating it as a non-airline, general aviation facility, the field's runway soon would shrink to less than half its present length and be usable only by smaller, slower propeller-driven aircraft.

Friedman's runway would be cut in half because some 100 acres bought with Federal Aviation Administration funds would be sold to help pay for a replacement facility at a new, distant site. Only about 100-plus acres would remain of the original 211-acre airport.

An aerial photograph of Friedman provided by the airport delineating the FAA land shows the current 7,550-foot runway chopped down to 2,940 feet, about 39 percent of its current length.

The likelihood that Hailey would reverse course, allow a smaller airport to operate and try to raise operating funds is considered virtually impossible, based on repeated statements by Hailey city officials. The remaining, Hailey-owned land, donated to Hailey in the early 1900s by the pioneer Friedman family, is considered the centerpiece of planned redevelopment to expand the community's economic base.

To test the usability of a theoretically smaller field, samples of aircraft now using Friedman were selected by the Idaho Mountain Express to compare their performance specifications listed by manufacturers against the 2,940-foot runway of a shrunken Friedman.

In all cases, manufacturers base aircraft performance on the same fixed data—maximum takeoff weight, "standard" airport conditions of 59 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level and clearance over a 50-foot obstacle. Friedman's higher altitude of 5,317 feet would lessen performance in most cases. High-performance aircraft usually departing Friedman on long-distance flights rarely reduce fuel loads to improve takeoff performance.

Here are takeoff requirements for specific aircraft versus a 2,940-foot runway:

· Bombardier Global Express jet—takeoff 6,120 feet; landing 2,670 feet.

· Gulfstream 550 jet—takeoff 5,910 feet; landing 2,770 feet.

· Cessna Citation CJ1 jet—takeoff 3,250 feet; landing 2,590 feet.

· Lear 60 jet—takeoff 5,450 feet; landing 3,420 feet.

· King Air 350 twin turboprop—takeoff 3,300 feet; landing, 2,540 feet.

· Pilatus PC-12 single turboprop—takeoff 2,650 feet; landing 1,830 feet.

· Cessna Caravan Super Cargomaster single turboprop—takeoff 2,500 feet; landing 1,740 feet.

· Cessna 421 twin prop—takeoff 2,387 feet; landing 2,178 feet.

· Beech Baron twin prop—takeoff 2,300 feet; landing 1,300 feet.

· Cessna 172 single prop—takeoff 1,685 feet; landing 1,295 feet.

· Piper J-3 Cub single prop—takeoff 730 feet; landing 470 feet.

Since a shortened runway generally would prohibit operations of jets and turboprops requiring longer strips, an airport source estimated the theoretical smaller general-aviation airport would lose 85 to 90 percent of revenues from fuel sales and parking fees to come from high-performance planes.

Plans to relocate the airport to a more rural area—possibly in far southern Blaine County—are moving forward.

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