South Dakota Airport May Scrap Runway Plan

Eliminating the instrument approach from the airport's master plan would allow the city to lift a ban on building in the runway protection zones.


Aberdeen, South Dakota is looking to eliminate plans for an approach from the airport's north/south runway so development can be allowed.

Eliminating the instrument approach from the airport's master plan would allow the city to lift a ban on building in the runway protection zones. The airport already has a so-called visual approach and had planned to implement an instrument approach.

The protection zones at the ends of the runways are designed to protect people and businesses in the event of a plane skidding off a runway.

Using a visual approach compared to an instrument approach changes the size of the runway protection zones, Airport Manager Dave Osborn said.

A visual approach uses a system of lights on the side of a runway that provide visual guidance information.

An instrument approach is more precise, Osborn said. This type of air navigation allows pilots to land an aircraft in reduced visibility by using a instrument landing system.

According to the FAA Web site, the instrument landing system consists of two parts: a directional guide to bring the plane to the correct runway and a glide path to bring the plane down at the correct glide angle or slope to touch the runway at the correct point. The system allows the pilots to approach a runway solely by reference to instruments in the cockpit.

Using an instrument approach compared to a visual approach enlarges the size of the runway protection zones, Osborn said.

Osborn said the airport's north/south runway doesn't have an instrument approach right now, but it is in the airport's master plan to have one in the future.

He said getting the Federal Aviation Administration's permission to remove that approach from the plan would not limit including a instrument approach on the south end of the runway later.

In October, the city instituted a six-month moratorium on building in the runway protection zone.

The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that the airport own the land in the protection zones or at least forbid building there because of safety issues. At the October meeting, several people objected to the moratorium, saying they planned to build in that area.

At Aberdeen Regional Airport, these trapezoid-shaped runway protection zones are 1,500 feet long and 1,750 feet at the widest part of the trapezoid at the ends of the runways. The size of the runway protection zones is determined by the FAA. A couple of businesses already in the protection zones were there before the zones were designated.

Osborn said although the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't like the idea of eliminating approaches, based on conversations he's had with FAA employees, he doesn't think the airport will have a problem.

The City Council on Monday authorized Mayor Mike Levsen to write a letter to the FAA requesting that the north/south runway approach be removed from the airport layout plan.

In the meantime, the city has hired Appraisal Services, an Aberdeen-based company, to appraise the land within the current runway protection zone. The appraisal of the land will be completed by Jan. 31. The city is having the land appraised in case the FAA rejects the request and the city has to reconsider buying the land.

Osborn said the airport should have an answer from the Federal Aviation Administration within a week of the department receiving the letter.

In other action Thursday, the airport board:

--Approved pay estimate No. 1 for $1,758.88 to Helms and Associates for the airport master plan.

--Approved pay estimate No. 11 for $4,010.50 to Helms and Associates for construction administration and resident engineering services.

--Approved pay estimate No. 5 for $15,172.54 to Helms and Associates for hangar area taxilane improvements.

--Approved pay estimate No. 8 for $271,739.30 to Steel Structures Inc. for construction of the snow removal equipment building.

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