Runway reconstruction complicates air service enhancement prospects at Riverton Regional Airport

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The elephant in the room when talking about enhanced air service to Riverton Regional Airport is the reconstruction of Runway 10/28, the airport’s primary runway. When that project begins, and it’s scheduled for 2015, the kind of aircraft that could land here will be restricted.

To address how to mitigate that situation, City Administrator Steven Weaver, Airport Manager Paul Griffin, the airport’s engineering consultants Jviation, and the Air Service Enhancement Task Force Chairman Missy White held a conference call two weeks ago with Wyoming Aeronautics and the Federal Aviation Administration.

At last Friday’s Airport Board meeting, Jviation’s Alex Nodich said the discussions at that meeting included the possible phasing of the runway project to reduce the impact on the airport. He said talk centered on what could be done to allow larger commercial aircraft to land during the construction.

“The Brasilia won’t be able to land on the cross-wind runway due to (the length) of that runway. It’s possible a Brasilia could land on a portion of 10/28 during the construction with weight restrictions,” he said, “but we’d need special permission.” Otherwise, he said only the Beech 1900s would be able to land during the work and use the crosswind runway. “Great Lakes needs 5,800 feet for the Brasilia to land, but the crosswind is only 4,800 feet long. We’re uncertain whether they would be willing to land here with that aircraft. The Beech 1900 has not had a problem in the past as it’s maximum weight takeoff length is 4,900 to 5,000 feet. If you reduce the weight of the aircraft, you’re within the 4,800 length.”

Nodich said he had talked with Great Lakes this week to find out what their minimum runway distances would be for the Brasilia on the crosswind, “but we haven’t locked that down yet. “If another carrier comes in, those discussions would also take place.”

Weaver said the construction is a “critical” part in Riverton’s attempt to enhance air service. “The only other airline flying the Brasilia in Wyoming is SkyWest but they don’t have Beechcraft 1900s. That could be a problem for us to get enhanced air service until this project is complete,” he said.

Rebuilding the primary runway is necessary because it does not meet FAA standards in terms of grade variations. “The first quarter of a runway cannot exceed a .8 percent grade, and the west end of the runway is at a 1.4 percent grade. We need to remove 12.5 feet of height to hit the .8 percent grade for the first quarter of the runway on that end,” Nodich said.

Jviations Tim Rhodes said that funding for the Riverton project is available at the present time, “but if it is not done on schedule, it could go away for a long time,” he said. “If we don’t do it now, and it’s 20 years old already, it would fall apart.”

Jviation principal Jim Fluer said it is possible to give the contractor on the rebuild project small areas to work in, or to have them work at night, but he said that might cut into the time they have to get the project done.

The construction time frame is estimated from five to six months.