Fri 12th Aug 2011

Argyle airport too narrow for best flight safety - aborting is the best option

According to International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 14, runways are determined according to runway length using the standard Runway Code categories. Code 1 runways are fewer than 800 metres long, Code 2 runways are 800-1199 metres long, Code 3 runways are 1200-1799 metres long and Code 4 Runways are 1800 metres or more in length. The Argyle site, therefore, should be Code 4.

For Code 4 runways, runway strips should extend at least 150 metres either side of the runway centreline. However, the Argyle airport Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), commissioned by the ULP, states that the argyle runway strip will be is only 2 x 75 M (75 metres in width either side of the runway centreline), not 2 x 150 M (150 metres in width either side of the runway centreline), as needed for an instrument approach runway.

International airports worldwide have instrument runways, but argyle airport will not have an instrument runway. Will the ULP Regime find themselves in deep water for ignoring the consultant's warning that the argyle airport runway strip is too narrow, 2 x 75 M and not the 2 x 150 M needed for an instrument approach runway?

The ULP regime knew from day one that argyle airport is too narrow for optimum flight safety, which is especially needed for jet aircrafts. For the ULP regime to proceed with the argyle project and waste over $600 million dollars is an act of financial and economic madness.

There are two types of runways, visual approach only or instrument and visual approach. It is almost impossible to make the runway strip at argyle twice as wide from 2 x 75 M up to 2 x 150 M so it can be used as an instrument approach runway.

Safe takeoffs and landings are usually done as close to "into the wind" as possible, so airports with one runway should be constructed to be aligned with the prevailing wind. The argyle site is located on windward coast and the runway is being constructed perpendicular to the extremely strong crosswinds.

The importance of the instrument approach runway from the flight safety perspective is that, in bad weather conditions of low clouds, a grey sky, heavy rain and strong perpendicular crosswinds, a passenger aircraft flown by instrument approach is safer and has more chance of landing safely.

The lack of an instrument approach runway coupled with argyle's very strong perpendicular crosswinds, causes serious flight safety hazards, making landing virtually impossible or can lead to a serious passenger aircraft accident. Without instruments a plane could overshoot the runway.

The instrument landing system (ILS) provides highly accurate course, glide-slope and distance guidance to a given runway. The ILS is an approach alternative in poor weather conditions. The increased accuracy generally allows for lower approach minimums, making it possible to land at an airport, when it otherwise would not have been possible using a non instrument approach.

SVG Green Party calls good common sense to prevail and the argyle airport project to be aborted now. We should not wait for a serious accident to occur before aborting the project.

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