Small Craft Warnings

Regional airports had high hopes when DIA said it wasn't interested in private avaiation. But guess what? DIA changed its mind. Again. Gorilla tactics as dia makes a grab for private planes, regional airports bail out of their expansion plans.

FAA spokesman Mitch Barker confirms that four "air separations"--or potential collisions--were reported at Longmont during December. He agrees, too, that the airport's radar screens often show planes "flying backwards" and that its radio breaks down frequently. "But we have backup systems," Barker adds, "so the situation is not as extreme as suggested." The FAA is in a "process nationally of upgrading our equipment," he continues, "but it takes time and money." In the meantime, Vance Brand has canceled plans to extend its one 4,800-foot concrete runway because "of neighborhood opposition," says manager Catherine Bauer Wissner. Also nixed is a proposed expansion of the airport's taxiway system. DIA's private aviation policy shift "has definitely hurt our business," says Tri-County Airport manager John Hurd. In anticipation of increased traffic, the privately owned, 147-acre facility 23 miles north of downtown had added a 4,700-foot runway. Now it will have to scramble to keep it busy; Tri-County's business has dropped 6 percent in four years. Boulder Municipal Airport--a publicly owned, 135-acre facility--recently added an improved taxiway system and a paved parking apron, the better to accommodate traffic that has increased 30 percent since 1989. Although no construction plans have been canceled because of DIA's policy shift, the airport doesn't rule that out. Says manager Roy Grundy, "DIA's new policy is so new we're going to have to analyze how it is going to affect us." Until then, the regional airports--like everyone else affected by Denver International Airport--will be playing the waiting game.

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