The first aircraft to use Riverton Regional’s newly reconstructed runway landed this past Thursday just past 1 p.m. after its main runway (10/28) was re-opened to air traffic. The runway had been under reconstruction for 174 days, just short of six months as planned. The west end of the runway was lowered some 14 feet to meet a gradient requirement and the safety zone at the end of the runway was also lowered. The more than 730,000 cubic feet of earth removed from that work filled a ravine at the north end of the cross-wind runway, for future expansion of that runway.
“Our first aircraft in was a Great Lakes flight,” said Milan Vinich of the airport police detachment.
“We’ve had a steady stream of general aviation aircraft landing since then,” said Airport Division Manager Paul Griffin. “We also had a big jet come in from an insurance company to pick up some passengers,” he said. “The new runway is strong enough for aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 737 so it will easily accommodate the 70 passenger jets being talked about for additional air service here.”
The updated runway features all new signage, two new crossings at the ends of the runway, new runway lighting, new taxi lanes and a new lighted windsock. The entire area that was disturbed during the construction has been hydroseeded.
“The only work left is for the FAA to complete the ILS system (Instrument Landing System). It had been planned to occur during the reconstruction, but funding delays held up their part of the work. It should be in place and operating by February,” Griffin said.
Three courses of asphalt were laid down during the project on 7,000 feet of the runway. The eastern most part of the 8,200 foot-long runway had been improved and strengthened earlier. “The FAA requires the landing areas to be flat, and that is the 1,000 feet areas on each end of the runway,” Griffin said.
In the meantime, a stricter level of visual flight rules will be required for landing aircraft when the airport is experiencing weather. “Pilots will have to operate with higher minimum ceiling and visibility,” Griffin said.