Radar for the Eagle | SummitDaily.com

Radar for the Eagle

Radar for the Eagle County Regional Airport isn’t exactly a done deal, but it’s closer than ever, according to U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

“It’s coming along … We’ve been working on this for six or seven years now,” said Campbell, who came through the Eagle Valley this week on campaign tour of the state. The Republican senator is seeking re-election in November.

Campbell said the system Eagle County originally requested hasn’t yet been approved for use in mountainous areas by the Federal Aviation Administration. However, he said, the FAA has approved a different kind of radar system.

That doesn’t mean a radar system is imminent, though. Eagle County Commissioner Michael Gallagher said the county will first install a new instrument landing system to aid commercial and private aircraft flying into the airport, then work radar into that system.

Gallagher said the new system is a “secondary” type of radar.

“Instead of sending out a signal that bounces back off of rocks, trees and mule deer, this “secondary’ system seeks out transponders on aircraft, which then tell it, “Here I am,'” Gallagher explained

Campbell, who said he used to fly in and out of Eagle regularly when he flew small airplanes, said the county airport needs a radar system to enhance safety, both here and at other airports.

“The airport at Aspen has worse weather than this one,” he noted. “Planes often get re-routed to Eagle.”

When radar is installed at the county airport, it will make operations both safer and allow more planes to land in cloudy or snowy weather. The current flight control system allows just four landings per hour during foul weather. That can leave planes circling, at times for long periods. A radar system will allow more planes to come in when the weather is less than perfect.

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