September 23, 2010 in Business

Completed extension will expand airport’s capability

Longer airstrip, new landing system can handle heavier cargo planes
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

A jetliner departs Spokane International Airport earlier this year. The airport will open its runway extension this morning.
(Full-size photo)

Spokane International Airport will open its new runway extension this morning after months of major construction.

The improved runway is now 11,000 feet long, up from the old length of 9,000 feet.

Today’s reopening of the extended runway follows weeks of testing on the reliability of an instrument landing system that was reinstalled to match the extended length.

A longer runway will allow airlines to carry more weight, especially during summertime takeoffs when heat reduces lift under an airplane’s wings.

Airport Interim Director Skip Davis said the runway will also accommodate bigger planes carrying international cargo. “We’re in a different position to market Spokane International Airport,” he said. “It offers a very unique opportunity that we haven’t had.”

Board member and Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan suggested the airport look for partnerships, possibly in Japan, that would be a step toward building an international profile.

Initially, the airport’s category III landing system will be available for aircraft approaching from the northeast; the opposite approach won’t have its instrument landing system in operation until Nov. 18.

Acme Paving Inc., of Spokane; Scarsella Bros., of Kent, Wash.; and Colvico Inc., of Spokane, were involved in the $30 million job.

Funds for the work came from the airport’s passenger facility charge of $4.50 per flight.

Last year, $7 million was spent to improve the gradient of a portion of the existing main runway to allow it to shed water more efficiently. That job was financed through last year’s federal economic stimulus measure.

Next year, work will shift to the northeast end of the runway, where another $30 million will be spent to raise the grade six to seven feet.

Staff writer Bert Caldwell contributed to this report.

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