Monthly Archives: March 2016

EMAS: Good as New

EMAS Falcon

The early morning hours of January 26, 2016

Airports are labor intensive businesses. Every time you turn around, there always seems to something that needs attention.

A runway check each morning is easy enough to point out a broken runway light or two, or patch a piece of crumbling taxiway pavement. Sometimes though, the work’s a bit more involved, like when an airplane ends up somewhere we hope it wouldn’t, like a few months ago when a Falcon 20 landing on runway 16 ran through the engineered materials arresting system (EMAS) at the south end of the airport. The crushable blocks of this new-age runway safety system, did their job and halted the airplane with minimum damage to the airplane and zero damage to the pilots.

The EMAS engagement did leave a pretty glaring hole in the block structure though, something the airport fixed last week with the help of Boland Construction out of New York, a company experienced at EMAS repairs. The work was planned for eight nights of runway closures from 10 pm until 6 am the next morning. But time is money and airports and the businesses that depend upon us don’t make much when the main runway is shut down. The basic plan was to complete as much work each night safely and hope to maybe shave a night off the calendar which would mean less disruption for users.

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Today, the end of the runway’s all spic and span. Photo courtesy Lee Hogan

On Monday evening, the first barricades went up to protect workers and warn pilots again the runway should not be used. Boland’s nine employees removed a number of extra EMAS blocks that looked questionable on second inspection and used torches to loosen the adhesive that originally held the blocks in place. Time to call it a night.

Tuesday’s efforts were rained out, but everyone was back on Wednesday at 10 pm when the new blocks were put in place. By Thursday night, there wasn’t much to do except caulk the blocks – just like your bathroom tile – and add the new yellow striping. By Friday morning, it was time to coordinate with the control tower to keep aircraft away and allow everything time to cure. By Saturday morning, the long runway was open for business.

In the end, the teams managed to shave three full nights of work from the project which translated into increased runway availability for airport tenants and transient operators and it was back to business as usual.

Along with the runway, the 16 instrument landing system (ILS) was also brought back to life without the need for another flight check. Thanks for your patience everyone.

 

A Week of Great Airport Events

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Hangar 11 was busier than it has been in some time.

JetSmarter Party at Hangar 11

In case you missed some of the action this past week, both airport people and a number of star-like visitors gathered around the airport to learn about.

Last Friday night, hangar 11 became the center of attention for dozens of people cheering on the launch of JetSmarter. The night was highlighted by a visit from comedian Jenny McCarthy and her husband Donnie Wahlberg. Note the accompanying photo with our own Signature Flight Support honcho Al Palicki.

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Donnie Wahlberg, Jenny McCarthy and Signature Flight Support’s station manager Al Palicki

JetSmarter is making private air travel accessible through a mobile app that seamlessly connects travelers to private jets at attractive fares worldwide, in real-time. The company has also formed links with local helicopter companies to  speed the hook up for quicker transfers between downtown and the airports JetSmarter may serve, such as Chicago Executive, DuPage, Waukegan and of course, Chicago O’Hare and Midway.

Avidyne Explains ADS-B

Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, better known as ADS-B in airplane talk, is a new system the allows aircraft anywhere to talk to air traffic control without using traditional radar systems. Radar is expensive to operate and ADSB is not.

Avidyne’s regional rep Ryan Paul was on hand Saturday for the monthly Leading Edge Flying Club breakfast, this month also joined by a number of members from the Chicago Executive Pilots Association. About 50 people attended the hour-long session in which Ryan explained the intricacies of deciding what kind of equipment to add to a general aviation airplane and at what cost.

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Avidyne’s Ryan Paul

For aircraft owners, the real benefit of ADS-B will come once a new satellite system, soon to be launched by Aerion, allows aircraft to be tracked anywhere on the face of the earth, including over vast areas of ocean or in the deepest of the Amazon. For local pilots, installing ADS-B in a Beechcraft Bonanza or Cirrus SR-22 will offer a host of benefits including the ability to track other aircraft in the sky and to download radar weather reports. The FAA requires that all aircraft operating at airports like PWK be equipped with ADS-B by 2020.

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50 people showed up for the combined LEFC and CEPA breakfast with Avidyne

Everyone involved in airplanes knows that nothing in our industry is cheap. GA aircraft operators are still hoping the cost to equip with an ADS-B unit will drop prior to 2020. Ryan explained that while there may be a few sales here and there from the electronics manufacturers like Avidyne, the real issue is going to be finding an avionics shop to install the equipment. In some cases, the switch to the newer ADS-B equipment might be quick, a bit like taking your car to ABT for a new stereo. In others, an aircraft could be in the shop for a week or longer. Ryan also explained that as the 2020 deadline approaches, the few shops capable of installing the new equipment will be busier and busier in a last minute rush to update. And if the airplanes don’t have ADS-B by 2020, they will be grounded until the equipment is installed.

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Airport Considers Noise Abatement Procedure

 

PWK noise test map 7-2016

Runway 34 departure procedure proposes aircraft fly a 310 heading for a short while after takeoff.

Just ahead of next week’s quarterly airport noise committee meeting – March 9 at 6:30 pm – Executive Director Jamie Abbott is asking users for comments about a potential noise abatement procedure the airport is considering. The airport may ask for the procedure to be tested at night for a six-month trial period, to obtain public input on the noise associated with northbound nighttime PWK departures on residents north of PWK.

The procedure, included in previous Part 150 Noise Studies, would propose that turbine-powered aircraft departing runway 34, from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM, to fly a 310 degree heading as soon as practicable after takeoff.

Aircraft would climb on this heading until reaching Lake Cook Road before proceeding on course, or to comply with further instructions issued by Chicago Departure Control. VFR aircraft would be asked to comply when able and with PWK tower approval.

The trial period would run daily between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM.

The airport would like to hear what users think before the airport requests the six-month trial from the FAA. Send your comments to Jamie Abbott at jabbott@chiexec.com.

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Airport 101: A Runway is More than an On & Off Ramp for the Sky

Palwaukee_Municipal_Airport_(USGS)A runway is what makes a defined area an airport. As the FAA’s exhaustive airport design and engineering standards suggest, it is more than a long, straight strip of dirt, gravel, grass, concrete, or, on two of Chicago Executive Airport’s three runways, asphalt cut with shallow grooves to help dissipate water so the wheels of landing aircraft will not hydroplane. The third is paved with ungrooved asphalt. This asphalt is but the top layer of several applied on top of a substrate graded to a precise longitudinal crown that ensures water will run to its shoulders.

Chicago Exec’s runways are identified by the magnetic headings to the nearest 10 degrees. The three-digit compass headings for each end of PWK’s primary Runway 16/34 are 161° and 341° to 16 and 34. Painted markings not only “name” each end of the runway, they identify the centerline, threshold, touch-down zone, which is right after the runway number, and the fixed distance marks, a diminishing number of longitudinal lines spaced 500 feet apart.

Surrounding the pavement is a runway safety area, a smooth graded area free of obstacles that would damage an airplane that inadvertently undershoots the threshold, over-runs the opposite end, or veers off the pavement to either side. The runway lights that parallel each edge are frangible, designed to break away from their mounts when hit. Because an airplane’s speed plays a significant part in undershooting the runway threshold or over-running its other end, the FAA requires runway safety areas to extend 1,000 feet beyond the pavement. When this space isn’t available, airports, like Chicago Exec, employ EMAS, engineered material arresting system. As recently demonstrated, EMAS reliably absorbs high amounts of kinetic energy without excessive damage to the aircraft.

Chicago Exec’s Runway 16/34 is 5,001 feet long and 150 feet wide. Runway 12/30 is 4,415 feet long and 75 feet wide, and Runway 6/24 is 3,677 feet by 50 feet, but their entire lengths are not available for landing. The threshold of Runway 12 is displaced 295 feet from the actual end of the pavement. Runway 30’s threshold is displaced 432 feet. Runway 6/24’s thresholds are displaced 372 feet and 1,249 feet respectively. Airports displace their thresholds for a number of reasons, from obstacle clearance and noise abatement or meeting the undershoot and over-run runway safety area requirements.

R30White arrows, like the ones here on Runway 30, designate the displaced threshold. Airplanes can taxi on and start their takeoff runs from a displaced threshold, but they cannot land on them. This reduces the runway’s available landing distance. Displaced thresholds do not shorten Chicago Exec’s Runway 16/34, so its entire 5,001 feet is available for landings.

Available landing distance isn’t the only number important to jets; the accelerate-stop distance is another. It’s the distance a jet needs to reach V1, and then stop using maximum braking, if an engine fails before or at this airplane-specific speed. If an engine fails after V1, there isn’t enough pavement to stop safely so the pilot continues the takeoff on one engine, which is a design requirement for commercial and corporate jets. In planning every flight, pilots look at their destination’s runway information to make sure the runway meets the airplane’s requirements.

A runway’s requirements can also extend off an airport’s property. At most airports, a 3-degree glideslope ensures that a landing airplane will have an obstacle-free approach slope between its final approach fix and the runway’s touchdown zone. Several different light systems help pilots fly this approach path in good weather. Addison uses a PAPI, a precision approach path indicator composed of four lights that shine red or white depending on the airplane’s elevation. Four red is too low, four white is too high, and two of each is just right.

When the weather is bad, pilots follow their instrument landing system instruments, which align them with the runway centerline and keep them on glide path. Each instrument approach has weather minimums classified by ceiling and visibility. With its ILS, Runway 16 minimums are 300 feet and a mile, which is why it’s served by an approach lighting system, a combination of light bars and strobes that help pilots quickly make the transition from instruments to the runway and a safe landing.