Aspen airport navigational aid back in service, again
November 21, 2010
ASPEN – Navigational equipment serving the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport was put back into service at close to 11 p.m. Saturday after a Federal Aviation Administration team reconfigured the antenna array, located atop Aspen Mountain.
The array has been reduced from 14 to six antennas, according to Bob Kitson, FAA regional director, who explained the plan to a group of concerned resort and airport officials, elected officials and airline representatives last week in Aspen.
The FAA recently replaced the equipment on the mountain, a four-week process that took longer than was initially expected. It then went down twice, prompting a reconfiguration of the new, more sensitive equipment, which guides pilots in the event of a missed approach – when they must circle around for another attempt to land. The equipment, a localizer directional aid, is used when poor visibility forces pilots to fly on instruments. SkyWest Airlines, operating United Express flights between Denver and Aspen, was most affected by the localizer shutdown, canceling or diverting 105 flights since the work began.
No flights were canceled or diverted last week as a result of the localizer repairs, according to Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, though weather conditions affected two flights. It was not the localizer, but low clouds and fog that resulted cancellation or diversion of all incoming flights on Sunday, and the forecast for snow early this week could result in additional diversions and cancellations, he noted.
Officials expressed concern last week that ongoing problems with the localizer would hurt the resort economy if the equipment was not operating dependably by the time the ski season opens on Thursday.