Improvements in works for Fairchild International Airport

FAA funding 90 percent of construction

PORT ANGELES — Projects previously delayed by lack of funds from the Federal Aviation Administration will get underway this summer at Fairchild International Airport, Port of Port Angeles commissioners were told Tuesday.

Runway 08/26 at Fairchild International Airport will be resurfaced and redesignated 09/27 and it will also getting an upgrade to the radio-controlled runway lights.

The redesignation is due to changes in the magnetic direction of the runway, according to Jon Picker, Airport and Marina manager for the Port of Port Angeles.

“Over time, magnetic variations change and therefore a runway’s designation must change when the opportunity presents itself,” he said when presenting his report.

Airports often need to change the names and designations of runways due to changes in the earth’s magnetic field, which can impact a plane’s navigational systems, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The design for this project began in summer 2020, with construction expected to start last summer, but due to delays in funding from the FAA, the work was moved to this coming summer.

“The total project cost is about $6 million of which the FAA is paying a little over 90 percent,” Picker said.

The Port of Port Angeles is set to advertise the project at the end of the month, and the work is expected to begin in June and throughout the summer.

Running concurrently with this project will be another FAA project to upgrade the Localizer Approach System.

“LOC approaches are defined as non-precision runway approach aids based on a single ground-based radio beam which provides pilots with horizontal guidance during an approach to land,” Picker said.

“The project will provide distance information (DME) so that approach minimums can be lowered in the future, which means more capability on the Olympic Peninsula.”

This project is funded entirely by the FAA.

The work creates a potential for disruption to air travel services, especially for private/corporate jet customers, Picker said.

“The port has no visibility on private/corporate jet scheduling and impacts right now,” Picker said.

“Past figures suggest that the airport could lose 80 jet visits over the summer plus the associated sale of fuel due to shortened runway lengths provided during construction.”

In 2022, Fairchild International Airport had 158 private/corporate jet customers, 89 of which were especially active during the summer.

“The only projected air service at the airport for this summer is the charter service provided by Rite Bros Aviation and the regularly scheduled service (projected) from Dash Air Shuttle,” Picker said.

“Rite Bros Aviation could see a decline in Jet A fuel sales by 36,500 gallons, but it is too early to tell.”

Total Jet A fuel sales in 2022 were 146,265 gallons.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com.

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