With fog rolling into the Palouse this time of year, new technology designed to help pilots find their way to the runway is already paying off for the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.
The $5 million instrument landing system introduced this year along with the airport’s new runway has already substantially reduced flight cancellations, Airport Executive Director Tony Bean said.
Bean said he knows of at least three successful landings in inclement weather that were assisted by the new technology. He said those landings likely would not have happened last fall on the old runway.
“It’s definitely a change and it has helped significantly,” he said.
He said the airport is going to monitor the landing system closely and look at the data in the spring to see how many landings can be attributed to the new technology.
The instrument landing system, including the runway lights and the bright strobe light that operates at night, are what pilots look for when they begin their approach to the runway.
Bean said pilots landing on the old runway would have to see a light from a mile out and 325 feet in the air in order to safely land.
Now, with the new instrument landing system, pilots only have to see a light from as near as a quarter-mile out and 200 feet high. Bean said pilots who have landed in Pullman this fall have told him the new system is more effective.
Bean said he cannot promise all flights will avoid cancellation, but he can state the odds are “significantly better” at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport with the instrument landing system.
He said the number of cancellations before the ILS were not as high as it may seem. Less than 5 percent of flights were affected by weather when the old runway was in use.
Passengers who are flying out of Pullman are encouraged to get a ride to the airport to help alleviate a parking shortage.
The airport informed the public earlier this fall they may not be guaranteed a parking space, and that they should look at other means, like taking a cab or shuttle.
So far, there have been no major issues with parking. He said there was enough parking available during Thanksgiving.
Bean said people were upset by the airport’s request, but he said it is to ensure that flyers who have no other option but to drive to the airport will have a place to park their car.
“Our concern and our goal is to make the traveling experience as uncomplicated as possible,” he said.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640,or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.