Bluffs airport closer to landing tech funds

July 16, 2007

A new instrument landing system, which might be installed next year at Council Bluffs Municipal Airport, would help pilots land during stormy weather.

The money for the system, $2.45 million, is included in a measure approved by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.

The announcement of the funds for Council Bluffs was made by Sen. Tom Harkin, DIowa, a senior member of the committee. It needs approval from the full House and Senate before President Bush can sign it into law.

Dan Smith, executive director of the Council Bluffs Airport Authority, said there is a waiting list of 68 airplane owners who want to park at the Council Bluffs airport.

"That's contingent on getting the ILS," Smith said, referring to the instrument landing system.

The system provides pilots with vital descent information.

"As part of our airport expansion, this was one of the items we needed," he said. "It gives you vertical and horizontal guidance to the end of the runway in bad weather.

"We didn't have a precision approach, so this will just make it better access to the airport in bad weather."

The system will benefit two airports.

"It helps us and reduces congestion at Eppley Airfield," Smith said.

The project was in the works long before February, when a Cessna crashed during a snowstorm about 3 1/2 miles south of the airport while on approach. Killed were an Omaha pilot and three Iowa passengers, who were employees of Dallas Johnson Greenhouses.