Part of a new $5 million Federal Aviation Administration instrument landing system at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport needs to be fixed.
The repairs are expected to be completed next week so that the system, which was supposed to debut with the airport’s new runway Oct. 10, can be online by Friday, said Executive Director Tony Bean.
Even though the instrument landing system has been out of commission, Bean said, the airport has been functioning better than before the $140 million runway opened.
Most commercial passenger flights have arrived and departed on schedule in October and November using a GPS system that was added.
Some of those flights likely would have been canceled before the upgrade, Bean said.
One of the exceptions was a Seattle-to-Pullman flight that never left the ground in Seattle because of weather issues in Pullman, Bean said.
Pullman airport officials are trying to figure out if that flight could have proceeded had the instrument landing system been working, or if weather conditions were too extreme for it to have landed even with assistance from the system, he said.
A handful of other flights between Pullman and Seattle have been canceled, but generally that has been because of weather in Seattle, Bean said.
The staff at the Pullman airport is closely monitoring what happens with the instrument landing system, Bean said.
The FAA is sending a crew next week to fix two parts of the system. They will replace defective antennas for a glide slope that helps give pilots the vertical descent angle for landing. They will also get a weather station set up so it can broadcast information about visibility to pilots while they are flying, he said.
Then an FAA pilot will test the system with an airplane to be sure everything is working.
“By Friday, everything should be up and going,” Bean said.
Throughout the bad-weather months of November, December, January, February and March, he will be watching to see how often flights are canceled.
He expects to see a dramatic improvement compared with last winter, when about 60 flights were dropped because of weather.
But he anticipates that just like any other airport, there will be some instances where it won’t be safe for pilots to take off or land.
“Winter shows up and it is what it is,” Bean said.
Elaine Williams may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2261.