County leaders to meet with Federal Aviation Administration official about airport |

County leaders to meet with Federal Aviation Administration official about airport

Staff report
The main terminal of the Aspen Airport.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners and Aspen/Pitkin County Airport Advisory Board will conduct a special meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday, April 11, at 9 a.m., county officials announced.

The meeting with John Bauer, the FAA’s manager of the northwest mountain region, is intended to answer frequently asked questions about the redevelopment of the airport — an effort shaped by the community’s Common Ground Recommendations for a safer, cleaner, and quieter future airport, officials said. The reasons the airport needs to be updated include increased community demand for air service, improved technology, and a community desire and FAA requirement to improve safety. 

His visit coincides with efforts this year to begin design work on a new terminal, which is part of continued work on an Airport Layout Plan, which maps out the near-, mid-, and long-term facilities at an airport and is used by the FAA to program future funding assistance.

“The FAA has identified changes that are required to improve safety and receive federal funding at ASE (Aspen Airport),” said Deputy Pitkin County Manager Rich Englehart. “Along with a new terminal, these changes include 400 feet of space between the runway and taxiway for safety purposes.” 

The changes planned at the airport aim to make the airport compliant with current federal safety standards related to Group III aircraft. Industry experts anticipate the next generation of future aircraft will be lighter, quieter, and less polluting with longer wingspans to increase aerodynamic efficiency, officials said.

A look back

A history of changes to the airfield, including changes to the runway:

  • 1946: The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport opened as a public-use landing strip, consisting of a log cabin terminal building and gravel runway.
  • 1957: The Civil Aeronautics Administration and Pitkin County funded the original paved runway, which was 5,200 feet long by 60 feet wide.
  • 1960s: The runway was lengthened to 6,000 feet and widened to 80 feet to improve safety and meet community demand for commercial air service.
  • 1980s: The runway was expanded to 7,006 feet by 100 feet to safely accommodate changing aircraft technology.
  • 2011: The runway was updated to its present size of 8,006 feet long by 100 feet wide to improve changing aircraft technology.
  • 2018: The Federal Aviation Administration released an environmental assessment of safety improvements required for ongoing federal funding.
  • 2020: After a two-year public process, Pitkin County adopted the community’s Common Ground Recommendations for a safer, cleaner, and quieter airport.
  • 2021: The Airport Advisory Board was appointed to safeguard and integrate the Common Ground Recommendations into redevelopment of the airport.
  • 2023: An updated Airport Layout Plan is being developed to comply with federal regulations.

To participate

As community representatives appointed by the county commissioners, the Airport Advisory Board will continue to gather questions from the community. Additional questions for the FAA can be submitted until April 7 to You can use the email address to submit other questions and comments about the airport to the advisory board any time.

The meeting with the FAA on April 11 will take place in the Board of County Commissioners’ chambers at the County Administration Building, 530 East Main St., and be streamed online via zoom.

You can stream the meeting on the county’s YouTube channel or watch a live broadcast on Grassroots Channel 11.


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