Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Airport solutions go in circles

In 2009, Jason Pitts (FAA) issued a two-page letter, responding to the feasibility of technological improvements to approaches at Friedman ( Four questions were asked and answered:

- Could the high minimum descent altitudes at SUN be reduced by using Automatic Dependence Surveillance-Broadcast technology along with Wide Area Augmentation System or Local Area Augmentation System?

- Could the existing Required Navigation Performance approach from the south be improved to achieve lower minimum descent altitudes at SUN?

- Could an RNP approach from the north be developed at SUN?

- Are there any technologies that would provide a system that could facilitate operations when cloud ceilings are no lower than 200 feet above the airfield elevation and visibility is to less than one-half mile?

Answers: No to every question!

The straightforward explanation given to question No. 3 was: All possibilities were explored. Excessive precipitous terrain in the final approach segment makes an RNP approach from the north impossible.

Three years later and what is being revisited although FAA has made clear the need to relocate? Approaches from the north, over Hailey, as presented at a Feb. 9 Friedman Memorial Airport Authority meeting: Horizon believes the best reliability benefit would be achieved with an approach from the north. It is better to descend through mountain terrain than to climb out of it. The best opportunity for improvements of minimum may be with procedures from the north.

As one elected official said, "You are going in circles."

Additionally, a consultant gave a PowerPoint presentation at the Airport Authority's November meeting He included a graph showing that if the runway at Friedman is shifted south 1,500 feet, toward Bellevue, planes would fly over Bellevue at 660 feet, although densely populated areas require a minimum altitude of 1,000 feet.

Bellevue, Hailey, concerned?

Evan Stelma


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