Letters to the Editor

Help for those trying to sort out runway issue

Confused by the flood of contradictory factoids concerning the need to extend the Hilton Head Island Airport runway? This summary might help clarify things:

  • Delta and US Airways plan to phase out their turboprop planes. Delta will rely on the Canadair Regional Jet 200; US Airways has not said.
  • The Canadair 200ER requires a 5,800 foot runway for takeoff. The 200 LR requires 6,290 feet; both more than any option being considered for our airport.
  • The most popular replacement for turboprops is the Bombardier Q400, which requires only 3,720 feet to take off fully loaded.
  • The consultants are recommending lengthening to 5,400 feet at a cost of $19 million.
  • Town politicians seem to be favoring 5,000 feet at a cost of $15.7 million.
  • A Federal AviationAdministration official says support will "diminish rapidly" for an extension less than 5,000 feet.

    It seems that whatever we do, we will not accommodate regional jets. Commercial service will continue to depend on airlines using turboprops until a new short takeoff jet is developed. Our 4,300-foot runway is of adequate length for current and next generation turboprops. If Delta and US Airways discontinue turboprops, we lose them, no matter the runway option selected. We would then seek a regional carrier with the vision to operate Q400s or equivalent planes.

    It seems the issue is not the viability of commercial service, but the ability to bring in larger private jets, which is a whole new argument.

    Chris GarmstonHilton Head Island