In response to the recent letter: “Do we need longer runway?”:
As a certified flight instructor, whose number-one concern is safety, Hilton Head Island Airport needs a longer runway or else risk a major accident. American Airlines can only fly archaic Dash 8 turboprops into the airport due solely to runway length. All airlines are phasing out turboprops for more reliable and efficient jet aircraft. But these jets need longer runways to safely take off and stop.
At one time, three airlines flew into Hilton Head. I believe runway length was a factor when the other two pulled out. Every passenger who flies from Savannah costs revenue for Beaufort County, and Savannah is not even in South Carolina. On the other hand, Savannah markets Hilton Head with pictures and promotions all over its terminal, thus cashing in on a South Carolina treasure.
We need a longer runway on Hilton Head for many reasons and it is long overdue. Believing otherwise is short-sighted and a safety risk. Be thankful we have not had a major accident at this airport to date.
The airport has one of the shortest runways for commercial service in the U.S., leaving very little margin for error. Combine that with the tree obstructions on either end of the runway and that margin gets even tighter. A 5,000- to 5,500-foot runway would go a long way to improve safety, even if airline service does not increase.
Hilton Head Island