Message from New England Regional Administrator Amy Corbett
It’s hard to believe the holiday season is already upon us. This also means the approach of one of the busiest times for air travel when tens of millions of passengers will rely on the aviation industry to connect them with destinations around the world. Through the holidays, FAA New England Region employees will be on-the-job working ensure the safety and efficiency of our National Airspace System (NAS).
Join me in celebrating the completion of a 20-year project to repair and repave runway 6/24 and install new safety features at Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, CT. We also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Massachusetts Port Authority to frame the process for analyzing opportunities to address noise concerns. These two recent developments highlight the spirit of community involvement while maintaining aviation safety.
FAA and Massport to Explore Noise Mitigation
The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) and the FAA announced on October 7, 2016, preliminary results of months of collaboration to develop test projects designed to help address the concentration of jet noise that some residents face because of adjustments to aircraft flight procedures.
The two agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding to frame the process for analyzing opportunities to address noise concerns through changes or adjustments to Performance Based Navigation (PBN) routes.
Massport has proposed several ideas to be analyzed to better understand the implications of new flight concentrations and study possible strategies to address neighborhood concerns. After an initial review, the FAA agreed that the ideas merit further study.
This innovative agreement between the FAA and Massport includes analyzing the feasibility of adjustments to some RNAV approaches and departures from Boston-Logan International Airport.
Runway Improvements Land at Bridgeport
On April 27, 1994, a chartered jet aircraft landed long at the end of runway 6/24 at Igor I. Sikorsky Airport in Bridgeport, CT (BDR) and crashed through a concrete blast fence located at the end of runway 6/24. Eight people lost their lives in that accident.
The NTSB investigation concluded that among the contributing factors to the accident were the absence of a runway end safety area and the presence of the solid blast fence installed to protect traffic on a nearby street from jet blast.
On October 3, 2016, local, state and federal officials attended the ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen the rebuilt runway 6/24. The ceremony recognized the efforts to reconstruct the runway and bring critical safety improvements to the airport, including replacing the South Main Street metal blast fence with an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS). The EMAS is placed at the end of a runway to decelerate an overrunning aircraft in an emergency.
The extensive project involved unique planning and collaboration among every level of government and included many agency negotiations. Runway 6/24 is the main runway at BDR and has the only precision approach at the airfield. Prior to this construction project, the runway had not seen any significant improvements in 30 years.
One challenge was the fact that a state highway needed to be moved and its re-positioning caused an overlap with an existing EPA Superfund site. Connecticut DOT spearheaded the blast fence removal, highway relocation, and Superfund cleanup projects.
Mayor Joe Ganim joined Mayor John Harkins, city council members and state lawmakers to reopen the runway. Mayor Ganim boarded an aircraft with city council members Tom McCarthy, Jeanette Herron and Anthony Paoletto to make the first inaugural landing at the new and improved runway.
FAA Evaluates Drone Detection Systems
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) that enter the protected airspace around airports can pose a serious threat to manned aviation safety. The FAA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are conducting drone-detection research with state and local officials, and academia, to evaluate new technologies for detecting unmanned aircraft near airports. Recent field-testing at Denver International Airport was a major milestone in the development of minimum operational performance standards for drone detection at major airport and critical infrastructure locations.