Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey is one step closer to being selected as the third airport in the country to use remote cameras instead of direct viewing of planes for air-traffic control.
On Tuesday, Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy announced that Friedman had been put on the Federal Aviation Administration’s candidate list for the pilot program for the remote digital air-traffic control facility.
“It’s just a good first step,” Pomeroy told the Idaho Mountain Express on Thursday morning.
Being on the candidate list means that the airport is still in the running to be selected for the pilot program, but no timeline was indicated as to when the FAA will make its final decision.
If selected, Friedman would be the third airport in the country to use the new technology. Currently, Leesburg, Va., has been using a prototype installation for nearly two years and is expected to become fully certified in the next 18 to 24 months, Pomeroy told the Airport Authority board in May. A digital tower at the Fort Collins-Loveland airport in Colorado is in its early stages of development, Pomeroy said.
The airport has until 2023 to come into compliance with an FAA directive to move the air-traffic control tower from the east side of the runway as part of the airport’s runway safety improvement plan, in order to make the runway an “object-free area.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, a selection committee was established to begin reviewing qualifications submitted by consultants and professional aviation planning services that will consult on airspace planning, siting options for a new air-traffic-control tower—if that’s the option the airport goes with—or coordination with the FAA in the digital tower pilot program. The selection committee will be composed of Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen, Airport Authority board Chairman Don Keirn and board Treasurer Ron Fairfax.
“In order to meet the 2023 deadline for tower relocation, [the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority] requires the assistance of a qualified planning consultant to provide specialized planning services related to air traffic control towers and airspace,” the draft document for the requests of qualifications states.
In other airport news:
Phase 1 of the construction project that began in the spring and was scheduled to be completed on June 18 is now scheduled for completion by the end of October, according to airport engineering consultant Dave Mitchell, of T-O Engineers. Mitchell said construction is almost complete on a retaining wall that will allow for an extension of the air-carrier apron and sidewalks around the parking lot entrance to the airport.
The airport is still strongly encouraging passengers to arrive an hour and a half before their scheduled departure time, particularly for early-morning flights, which are often full and have departure times close together.