Letters to the Editor

Runway extension options can be listed for debate

Arguments for 5,000 feet:

  • Minimum required for insurance coverage (now restricts planes) and Federal Aviation Administration funding.
  • Accommodates all non-commercial requirements (hot day, full passenger load, 700-mile range etc.) .
  • Arguments for 5,400 feet:

  • Required to maintain the community "agreed upon" objective to provide commercial service to Atlanta and Charlotte.
  • Required to accommodate the probable aircraft of choice, namely the older, less efficient, 50-passenger, short-range regional jets that make up the majority of the U.S. regional fleet.
  • The newer, 70-passenger, more efficient regional jets coming into the fleet can serve Atlanta and Charlotte with 5,000 feet, but it is unlikely these longer-range aircraft would be committed to Hilton Head Island, at least initially.

    Advocates of not extending the runway (arguing the availability of Q400 turboprops) miss that Delta has announced it will be all-jet shortly, that US Airways is expected to follow, that FAA funding would be lost, that 5,000 feet is needed for non-commercial aircraft, and most importantly, that U.S. airlines have little interest in the Q400.

    The most pressing issue is extending the runway before US Airways, which is phasing out its turboprops, discontinues service here.

    The logical approach is to approve the 5,400-foot plan, get to work on the design (and determine whether more than 5,000 feet can be built on airport property) and defer a final decision on 5,400 feet until we have more facts.

    Stu Rodman, chairman

    Finance Committee

    Beaufort County Council

    Hilton Head Island