Thu, Jun 11, 2009
Won't Approve Lower IFR Minimums At Hailey, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho, has long been one
of the country's most popular ski destinations, and features
beautiful scenery year round. But one thing Sun Valley doesn't have
is an IFR approach, with lower minimums, to Friedman Memorial
Airport in Hailey, and it's unlikely to get one.
In a 2 page memo released this week, the FAA ruled that terrain
surrounding the field (read mountains) is the permanent, immovable
obstacle to lowering altitude minimums for approaches. That has
Hailey officials looking for someplace to put an airport that will
meet FAA standards.
FAA's Western Flights Procedures Manager Jason Pitts wrote the
memo. In it, he cited a number of reasons for disallowing the
lowered minimums, but all had a common thread ... the terrain
surrounding Freidman. He wrote that GPS-based navigation systems,
often cited by those advocating for changing the minimums, cannot
"change the terrain features surrounding SUN (Friedman's FAA
designated code) that currently drive the existing minimums."
According to the Idaho Mountain Express and Guide, some 30
percent of scheduled airline flights at Friedman are cancelled or
diverted due to weather. A major factor is the inability of some
aircraft to execute a single-engine missed approach and still avoid
the mountains north of the airport. Approaches from the north were
requested, but Pitts wrote: "All possibilities were explored.
Excessive precipitous terrain in the final approach segment makes
an RNP (Required Navigation Performance) approach from the north
Friedman Manager Rick Baird said the FAA's decisions means that
approach minimums will remain in effect, and flight cancellations
and diversions due to weather will continue until a new airport is
The proposed new field would have far lower approach minimums
than Friedman, largely because the new site would be further away
from those immovable mountains.
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