Aspen airport navigational equipment back in service

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The navigational equipment on Aspen Mountain that guides pilots coming into the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport was put into operation Saturday night, according to Jim Elwood, airport aviation director.

The Federal Aviation Administration flight tested the system successfully last week, and indicated the system would be operational on Friday. The agency issued a press release Saturday evening, however, indicating a crucial monitoring system, which prevents an erroneous signal from being broadcast to aircraft, was not performing properly.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m., Elwood indicated the localizer atop the mountain was back in service and the FAA confirmed on Sunday that the equipment was operational.

The mountaintop antenna array was shut down Oct. 8 and replaced. The $1.5 million project took longer than expected; the FAA was presented with a number of challenges in setting up an array that provides a signal to guide pilots back around for a second approach to the airport in the event of a missed approach.

While the system was off-line, SkyWest Airlines, which operates United Express service into Aspen, was forced to cancel or divert numerous flights during cloudy conditions, when instrument approaches were not possible.

With clouds moving back into Aspen Sunday after a week of clear weather, and rain and snow dominating this week’s forecast, it appears the localizer has been returned to service in time to avoid additional cancellations.

The system on Aspen Mountain works in tandem with a localizer at the south end of the airport runway that has remained operational.