Aspen airport repairs aren’t finished yet
October 29, 2010
ASPEN – Repairs to navigational equipment used by pilots approaching the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport will take up to another week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.
The FAA shut down the localizer directional aid, or LDA, located atop Aspen Mountain on Oct. 8 in order to replace it. The equipment is critical for pilots making an instrument approach to the airport, and SkyWest Airlines, operating United Express flights between Denver and Aspen, has been forced to cancel or divert numerous flights since the repairs began.
As of Friday, SkyWest had canceled 63 flights as a result of the LDA shutdown, said an airline spokesman. Frontier, currently operating one flight daily between Aspen and Denver, has not been affected, but SkyWest has been unable to land when skies are not clear enough to use a visual approach. SkyWest is scheduled to fly six flights daily between Aspen and Denver.
The FAA now says the repairs will be done by Nov. 5, but the equipment could be operational by mid-next week. Among the unanticipated setbacks in installing the new LDA was interference from a nearby Holy Cross power line that has now been relocated.
The FAA was running test flights to test the system on Friday and will do so again Saturday. The agency will be working through the weekend to get the new system operational as soon as possible, according to a press release issued by Pitkin County.
The project was originally supposed to be finished by Oct. 22; that completion date was then pushed back to Oct. 29, and now to Nov. 5.
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There are two localizer antennae serving the airport – one at the south end of the runway and one on the mountain.
After snow and then cloudy skies hampered flights into Aspen early this week, blue skies dominated on Thursday and Friday. The weekend forecast calls for partly sunny skies, with a chance of rain and snow showers. Even partly cloudy skies can result in canceled flights while the localizer is down.