Let’s pause Aspen airport expansion | AspenTimes.com

Let’s pause Aspen airport expansion

The CRJ 700 aircraft has a useful life further than some have thought, especially in this economic crisis. Normally aircraft companies would sell off their aircraft after X number of years and buy the latest design. Given the state of the world today, all airlines are cutting back and maintaining what they have. Maintenance, while expensive, is a better business decision for the future.

I advocate for the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners to take a pause for a few years and then, with more information at hand, respond to the future. While the airport needs a new terminal, we must also keep addressing the challenging geography, topography and mountain flying conditions with safety first in mind.

I was the airport manager in the late 1980s and was responsible for widening the runway from 75 feet to 100 feet.

I also worked with the FAA to bring a VOR and instrument approach to the airport and also added runway lights. Before being the airport manager I had a flight school named Tailwinds and have flown over 9,000 hours in the mountains. My 20-plus years with Mountain Rescue Aspen also involved over 20 aircraft accidents in the Aspen area.

The ASE Vision Committee has done an outstanding job. As a member, I voted for the recommendations but now all I think about is safety taking a pause and offer the additional time and thought that our unprecedented circumstances deserve.

Richard Arnold

Former airport manager (Aspen and Texas)