AOPA is urging the airport authority in New Haven, Connecticut, not to jeopardize the city’s federal airport aid—and flight safety—by closing a runway at Tweed-New Haven Airport that gives pilots a safer option than using the main runway in strong crosswind conditions.
Permanently closing Runway 14/32, which has been in temporary disuse, is a provision of state legislation to establish a solar-power pilot program at Connecticut’s municipal airports.
But in an April 11 letter to the Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority, AOPA encouraged officials to support finding another means of accomplishing those goals than keeping the smaller crosswind runway closed.
When Connecticut’s coastal weather brings about changes in the prevailing wind conditions, Runway 14/32 provides pilots with a safe haven—as do so-called crosswind runways at many airports—and Tweed-New Haven is contractually obligated to keep the runway in service under terms of federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants dating to a runway rehabilitation project in 2000, wrote Sean Collins, AOPA’s eastern region manager.
The airport authority’s decision to allow Runway 14/32 “to languish for multiple years” is a potential violation of those grant assurances, he wrote, following up on AOPA’s March legislative testimony.
Collins added that the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress in March provided $1 billion in budget authority for discretionary airport-project funding from the general fund—that is, outside the AIP.
AOPA is willing to work with the Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority to acquire funding from that source, and to lift the statutory restrictions on enlarging the airport’s main runway, “contingent on due assurance and commitment to returning the crosswind runway to active status,” he wrote.