Apr. 28, 2004 - The plan to close a runway at Eugene, Oregon's Mahlon Sweet Field (EUG) is based on information that is so flawed, the plan should be scrapped and the study redone, says AOPA. In a letter to the airport manager, the association said the wind study used to justify the closure is so broad that it's useless.
The airport wants to build a parallel runway to increase capacity, but wants to close its crosswind runway once the new runway is operational. That would leave the airport with no crosswind runway to accommodate aircraft during times when significant crosswind conditions exist.The wind study for the proposal averages data collected 24 hours per day over an extended period.
"Under normal circumstances, it may be appropriate to collect and tabulate wind data based on 24 hour per day observations. But Eugene is significantly different," wrote AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn. "There are few, if any, general aviation operations at night, and crosswind conditions occur most often during daylight hours. Therefore, conducting data in a 24-hour window very obviously skews the results of the total wind coverage."
Dunn pointed out to Airport Manager Robert Noble that the FAA recognized the unique nature of each airport in an Airport Design Advisory Circular appendix on wind analysis. "'At many airports, airplane operations are almost nil after dark, and it may be desirable to analyze the wind data on less than a 24-hour observation period,'" Dunn quoted the agency. Therefore, he continued, "We suggest the study examine a window of daylight hours between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 pm. daily."
"AOPA believes strongly in the need for the continued availability of the existing crosswind runway [original emphasis]," Dunn continued. "Therefore, the Association requests that the airport immediately initiate a new wind study."
AOPA has been campaigning on behalf of general aviation pilots at Mahlon Sweet Field for quite some time. Association president Phil Boyer has met with two members of Oregon's Congressional delegation - Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who represents Eugene, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) - to press for their support.