Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Larger planes are not airport’s goal

The headline of a June 8 story titled "Authority strives for larger planes" was an inaccurate representation of what the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority is intending for improvements at the airport.

In light of the FAA's suspension of the environmental impact study, the goal of the upcoming airport planning study at Friedman is to address airfield design for the types of aircraft that operate at the airport today. It is not about building an airport that can accommodate bigger planes, but rather creating a functional regional jet airport that meets the aviation needs of this valley.

The Airport Authority continues its strategy of "dual paths." While moving forward with the airport relocation process, it is also planning for minimum improvements at the existing site. The approach to these improvements is a tiered process to comply with compulsory standards to the extent that they are necessary and to phase improvements, limiting costs and impacts to the community. Any plan that encourages commercial aircraft larger than regional jet class at Friedman is not aligned with this strategy.

With that in mind, a better headline encapsulating outcomes from the June 5 Airport Authority meeting may have been "Airport seeks minor fixes to Friedman to comply with standards".

Tom Bowman, chair

Martha Burke, vice chair

Friedman Memorial Airport Authority

Editor's note: While the stated intent of the Airport Authority may be to comply with federal standards, the proposed upgrades would allow the airport to accommodate regional jets without a waiver from the FAA. Regional jets are larger than the turbo-prop airplanes currently in use at Friedman by SkyWest Airlines.

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