Solution keeps runway open during glide scope work

Published 10:50 pm Friday, March 30, 2012

The U.S. Army has agreed to take over and maintain a new glide scope after it is installed at the Troy Municipal Airport later this year.

In January, the engineering firm  working on the runway expansion project told Mayor Jimmy Lunsford the current glide slope antenna that relays information to the Army’s $2 million instrument landing system needed to be moved.

The glide scope is important during low-visibility days and allows pilots to use their instruments to land instead of sight. And the Army’s ILS system is useless without it.

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The work would include transporting truckloads of dirt to the site in order to change the topography of about nine acres of land adjacent to the runway. The hiccup in the design plan could have delayed the opening of the airport six months while raising the cost of the project significantly, Lunsford said.

But, Michelle Hunter, project engineer for the city’s new contractor Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, met with Lunsford, an Army representative and the Alabama Department of Transportation recently to go over information about the End Fire glide scope

The End Fire uses an antenna array, instead of the ground, to bounce a signal through the use of a row of five antennas that sit 25 feet off the runway.

“We can go in and put the antennas up with minimal work,” Hunter explained. “And no dirt needs to be brought in.”

Even though city officials were already excited about the prospect of using the End Fire model, engineers still needed the go-ahead from the Army.

“Everybody, now, has agreed this was the best route and the most effective route to go,” Hunter said.

With the instillation of the End Fire glide scope, the runway will not have to close. The expanded portion will merely be displaced for a few weeks while work is done. Until the End Fire is installed, pilots will be able to land by sight on the expanded runway.

Hunter said Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood would begin the design process soon and the Federal Aviation Administration will order the End Fire glide scope, which could take about four to six months to receive.