Prescott residents weigh in on airport's expansion plans

PRESCOTT, AZ - The Prescott Municipal Airport is considering expansion, but residents are worried about the noise that could come with a regional airport.

Nearly 100 people turned out at the Prescott Valley Public Library on Wednesday for the second public meeting in the ongoing airport master-planning process, The Daily Courier reported.

The residents pushed the consultants for answers on runway lengths, safety issues with the U.S. Forest Service's slurry bombers and flight patterns.

Douglas Sander, the project manager of the master-planning process with Delta Airport Consultants, emphasized that the runway needs to be lengthened to handle existing commercial traffic.

His presentation noted that the EMB 120 turboprop aircraft used by Great Lakes Airlines, Prescott's commercial airline, is currently limited by weight. At the current runway length, he said, Great Lakes cannot take off with a fully loaded aircraft.

Residents, however, disputed the need for longer runways.

Chino Valley resident Al Gibbons was adamant in his concerns over the length of the runway. He disputed the city's claims that a longer, stronger runway was needed to handle fire-fighting slurry bombers.

Gibbons read a letter he had received in October 2016 from the Forest Service, which stated: "The U.S. Forest Service is not requesting that the Prescott Airport lengthen their runways. The airtanker base located at the Prescott Airport was recently reconstructed and it can accommodate all of the current airtanker fleet with the exception of the DC-10. We conduct DC-10 operations from the U.S. Forest Service base in Phoenix."

Airport Assistant Manager Jessie Baker noted afterward that although the Forest Service has not requested a runway expansion, firefighting traffic has had an impact on the runway. For instance, she said, heavy helicopter traffic left indentions in the pavement.

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