Shortened Newport State Airport runway causes concern for pilots

MIDDLETOWN – The president of a commercial airline has said moving a runway at Newport State Airport will not have a negative impact on services at this time, but it may have effects long-term.

“This is of great concern to us,” said Eric Zipkin, president of Tradewind Aviation, a Connecticut-based company that provides private charter and shuttle services.

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation, a quasi-state agency responsible for the operation and management of the six state-owned airports, announced in May the temporary relocation – or shortening – of runway 4 at the airport to 499-foot Newport State.

The reduction in runway length “is the result of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements to mitigate risk to ensure pilots have adequate take-off and landing clearance and to ensure that pilots have sufficient space to avoid collisions with growing trees around the airport, ”RIAC said in a May press release.

The move comes after negotiations with an owner to obtain an aviation easement reached an impasse; John Goodman, director of media and public relations at RIAC, said in January the agency had “no choice” but to move the runway threshold due to the standoff.

Goodman has previously confirmed that the “great danger in approaching runway 4” is a tree.

The Daily News in 2018 reported on a 60-foot maple on Mary Costello’s property at Winfield Court and its obstacle approaching runway 4. Costello declined to comment in January when contacted by The Daily News. Costello did not respond to emails from a reporter seeking comment on this story.

Services expand at Newport State Airport

The runway relocation narrowly precedes the expansion of Tradewind services at Newport State Airport. Starting July 1, the company will offer scheduled shared charter flight services to the airport, or “shuttles,” which means that one person can buy a seat on an aircraft for eight people. Previously, the company only offered private charter flights to Newport State Airport, meaning the traveler would rent an entire plane.

Zipkin has confirmed that once the service launches in July, Tradewind will be the only company to offer scheduled shared charter flight services to Newport State Airport.

After:Runway lengths under review at Newport State Airport

The PC-12 is the only type of aircraft that Tradewind arrives at the airport, and moving the runway will not affect the ability of that type of aircraft to land, Zipkin confirmed.

Goodman echoed Zipkin.

“The temporary reduction in runway length to 2,500 (feet) is adequate for aircraft that regularly use the airport, including the larger PC-12 turboprop engines owned by PlaneSense, which operates a fractional ownership program at the airport. ‘Newport State Airport, “Goodman said in a statement. e-mail to Daily News.

Shortening the tracks creates long-term problems

But Zipkin fears that the relocation of the runway, if it becomes permanent, will affect the “long-term viability of the airport.”

“Basically, it reduces the number of planes and the types of planes that can safely access the airport,” Zipkin said. “The fewer people use the airport, the less support the airport receives and the less people know about the airport, which will indirectly have a negative impact on our operations.”

Goodman said Newport State Airport averages 54 operations per day (arrivals and departures), or about 20,000 operations per year on average.

If the temporary move becomes permanent, it could mean that the new service offered at Newport will be short-lived, Zipkin said.

After:Newport entrepreneur does everything for start-up Mote

“The shortening of the runway at Newport will have a number of implications for the usability of the airport,” pilot Guillaume de Ramel said in an email to the Daily News. “Insurance companies have minimum runway lengths for various categories of aircraft; which just crossed a bunch of planes off the use list (Newport State Airport). Instrument approaches in the airport will also be affected, further reducing the usability of the airport. “

An instrument approach is a procedure used when weather conditions are below visual flight rule weather minima.

De Ramel also mentioned security.

A tree approaching runway 4 at Newport State Airport in Middletown forces the Rhode Island Airport Corporation to shorten it about 500 feet.

“Everyone thinks a longer runway equals bigger planes, they don’t,” he said during a phone call with The Daily News. “A longer runway is really a matter of safety” for single-engine and multi-engine aircraft.

Legislative correction sought

Senator Jim Seveney, of D-Portsmouth, said the effect of the shorter runway on the classes of aircraft that can land there safely is “obviously … bad for business”.

Seveney is the co-sponsor of an Airports Bill, reintroduced this year. The RIAC, which calls the “Preservation of Safe Airspace” bill legislation, urged the General Assembly to pass the legislation this time around.

After:Newport entrepreneur hopes new travel kit takes off as more people board the plane

The bill – with versions presented to the House and Senate – amends a state law relating to airports and airstrips, to include “airspace” to the land that the Rhode Department of Transportation Island can acquire to preserve, maintain or restore the “approach” of an aircraft. “

Seveney said the bill is “a clarification”.

Similar case at Westerly State airport provides precedent

According to a recent Washington County Superior Court ruling, the current wording of the law was sufficient for a Superior Court judge to rule in favor of the state for a similar situation at an airport obstructed by trees at Westerly.

In a decision filed on April 9, Deputy Judge Sarah Taft-Carter said RIDOT “acted within its authority in exercising its power of sentencing to claim navigation easements over the plaintiffs’ properties.”

The plaintiffs in this Superior Court case all own property near Westerly State Airport, another airport operated by RIAC. According to a court document, the acquisition of the airspace over the properties of the plaintiffs was approved in March 2015, and in April of the same year, RIDOT on behalf of RIAC registered the easement affecting the properties of the plaintiffs; With the easement, RIDOT sought to cut or remove trees on the properties of the applicants which were obstructing the airspace.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in 2016 and questioned the validity of the 2015 easement and the notices of conviction.

After:Newport father and daughter build tiny house in 7ft by 14ft trailer during pandemic

Taft-Carter, in its recent ruling, said the plaintiffs’ properties constituted airport runway approach areas and met the legal definition of “runway”, and therefore RIDOT “may condemn an ​​interest in land”.

A preliminary injunction motion was granted in May 2017. RIDOT did not fell any trees under the 2015 easement, according to the April 2021 decision. The case remains pending, with a hearing on a motion for judgment summary scheduled for September.

Goodman said the plaintiffs’ attorney now also represents an owner near the Newport State Airport.

“Our legal counsel has indicated that proceeding with the acquisition of new easements in the vicinity of Newport State Airport would be reckless and could be viewed by the Court as a willful disregard of its order and could adversely affect the ongoing litigation.” , he said in an email.

About Theresa Burton

Check Also

Rally in the Swamp > Air Force Reserve Command > News Article

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Members of the 815th Airlift Squadron, an Air Force Reserve …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.