Aspen airport equipment still down
November 12, 2010
ASPEN – The newly installed navigational equipment atop Aspen Mountain that serves the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport remained off-line through Thursday, forcing United Express to cancel flights into Aspen.
The localizer, which went down Tuesday, sends out a signal to guide pilots flying on instruments in the event they miss the approach to the airport and must circle around for another try. The system shut down automatically when it detected conflicting data about the transmitted signal.
Federal Aviation Administration crews were at the site Wednesday and Thursday trying to repair the localizer.
Pitkin County commissioner George Newman expressed frustration Tuesday with the lengthy repairs, which inconvenienced travelers for a month before the antenna array was brought back on line last weekend. “This is inexcusable,” he said.
Without the localizer on the mountain, United Express, operated by SkyWest Airlines, cannot fly into Aspen unless pilots can make a visual approach. Cloud cover forces canceled and rerouted flights. The airline has been busing passengers from Grand Junction when it can’t land in Aspen. Frontier, with GPS equipment on board, has been able to fly during the repairs.
Replacing the antenna array and the platform it sits on was a $1.5 million project for the FAA. The new equipment is more sensitive, and FAA engineers have faced challenges with the terrain on the mountain in adjusting it.
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The old array was turned off Oct. 8.
Another localizer, at the south end of the airport runway, remains operational.