Closing Runway Will Increase Safety: Consultant


A consultant working for Chicago Executive Airport told a meeting last week that closing the busy facility’s crosswind runway will improve safety. Craig Louden, a project manager with infrastructure consultant Crawford, Murphy and Tilly Inc., told a room full of pilots at a meeting of the airport’s board of directors last week that closing Runway 24/6 would reduce incursion risk at an awkward intersection of the airport’s three runways. He was responding to protests from some Windy City pilots who say closing the only east-west runway will limit options when the wind howls out of the southwest. “I just want to make sure it’s put on the record that taking out this runway is not the safe thing to do,” pilot Rhett Dennerline said at the meeting, according to the Daily Herald. ”This actually may be relevant in the future. There may be an accident.”

But after the pilots talked safety, Board Chair D. Court Harris got to the heart of the matter. The runway is going to need major work in the next five years and as the airport’s “third runway” it doesn’t qualify for FAA and state grants to cover the million-dollar cost. He said the 3,677-foot runway sees only 2 percent of the traffic at KPWK. “Money spent on third runways that is not reimbursable (by the FAA or state) is money that cannot be spent on safety measures for the other 98% of operations for the facilities and the resources for them,” Harris said. The airport is a main reliever for O’Hare and gets about 80,000 movements a year, including a lot of business traffic.

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  1. Mark, this is a new-age logic we have seen and heavily developed in modern and civilized/ advanced societies. For most humans with more than half a brain in the skull, the concept is very difficult to grasp. But there is help!

    Choices for sufferers are limited. Some report moderate success in better understanding by having a lobotomy performed, some revert to drugs, in order to get their brain-capacity in tune with currently valid agendas.

    Scientists have found that all risk can be completely mitigated by completely ceasing the activity which correlates most with injury, death or risk. If you don’t take off in a Delta plane, that Delta plane can never ever accidentally dump fuel on unsuspecting victim-children!

    Examples: Preventing sexual intercourse has shown to be most effective in avoiding unwanted pregnancies and forced marriage. The prevention of landing- accidents been most successful during times when take-offs were prohibited. Same logic: Bad policy is best prevented by electing only good policymakers. If nothing goes right, go left!

    This concept can be extended and expanded at will. The overall goal is risk prevention. Skip driving your car today, stay in your house, enter the most secure bunker style room of your house. Call the office, let them know that you are not driving to work today in order to mitigate the risk of having an accident. Then, tonight, celebrate that you have successfully mitigated nearly all risk. Its really easy. I have a head-start, because I served in the German military. Rule #1: You cant do anything wrong if you don’t do anything at all. Rule #2: Only people who do nothing wrong can be promoted.

    If every criminal leaves their gun at home, locked in a child-proof safe, there will be hardly any shootings.

    I do in-home consulting for gun owners who wish to part with the silly idea of liberty, constitutional rights, self-governance and freedom. Usually I walk in, asses the risk and mitigate it by securing the weapon. Doh. Can’t shoot anyone with a damn cotton-ball. Cash only. I take the gun and leave the Cannoli.

    Its genious business, I know. Please do not copy it, my patent isn’t approved yet.

  2. Not sure why such a long displaced threshold on 24, but looks like moving them would increase runway length to almost as much 12-30. With the main runway being 16-34 the it seams like 12-30 would be the more obvious choice to close with only 40° difference in alignment. 6-24 would offer more options with a southwest wind.

    • There’s a forest preserve to the east and power lines to the west. 6/24 (And 12/30) are paved from fence to fence. The displaced thresholds can’t move.
      There’s enough runway for jets to use 12/30, but I haven’t seen them use 6/24 ever.

  3. The FAA recently shortened our runway at W29 to “improve safety.” We have a highway passing by one end of our runway and for many years had a perfectly good displaced threshold there to ensure airplanes kept a safe height over vehicle traffic. Some FAA bureaucrat though decided that a displaced threshold constituted part of the runway and FAA safety standards said it was now safe to have the runway that close to the road. The result? Your tax doors used to repaint 300 feet of former runway into taxiway and move the REILs. We also lost most of our turboprop and microjet traffic and with it all of our Jet A sales. Gotta love it!

  4. “Money spent on third runways that is not reimbursable (by the FAA or state) is money that cannot be spent on safety measures for the other 98% of operations for the facilities and the resources for them,” Harris said.

    Concern about safety appears to be a distant second to money. The airport does not want to spend its own dough citing that money spent to resurface the crosswind runway will pull “safety” funds from the runway maintenance of the remaining two carrying 98% of the traffic. Apparently, only reimbursable money from the FAA and the nearly bankrupt state of Illinois can be used for runway maintenance. As the airport’s financial responsibility, suddenly now they are concerned about pilot safety and want to avoid runway incursions at the intersection of the three. If the wind off the lake is howling as it does very predictably recommending the use of that runway, or out of the SW how many airplanes are going to be using the other two? Not many if any at this controlled field.

    Agreed with Chris K…“OK, you’re the expert, and here’s what we want you to say…” and Doug H…”So, in other words if Illinois can’t somehow steal the funds from tax payers and get it for free, to H with it…As a resident of Hellinois, I recommend staying as far away from here as possible.”

    I did take Doug H’s recommendation several years ago and moved away, being part of the mass exodus from Illinois. I guess I can be part of the blame for the inevitable closure of the cross wind runway because I am not contributing taxes due to my “flight” from the Land of Lincoln/Madigan. Besides, if they plan on closing the third runway, all the airport authority has to do is call the same dozer operators used at Meigs for a 3AM runway destruction party. They got that job down pat.

    • I, too, left Illinois … over half a century ago, Jim. During a career in the USAF, et sub, I discovered there’s a heckuva lot of nice places to live that don’t have a hand in your wallet at every turn; I never returned because I found “paradise” elsewhere. Given the politics, population density, high cost of living, crime, taxation and nasty winter weather, I’m surprised more people don’t flee. The ONLY thing I miss is the Vienna red hots at Gene and Jude’s in River Grove (sic)(google it). And I’m intimately familiar with the KPWK area; I used to hang out in Palatine as a kid.

      Rather than add to the moaning, I looked up the runway in question. Although its length is 3,677′ long, it has a substantial displaced threshold on runway 24 of 1,249′ leaving only 2,428′ usable. Runway 06 has a displaced threshold of 379′ leaving only 3,298′ usable. Subtracting both of those numbers from full length leaves only 2,049′ of actual runway length X 50′ width = 102,450 sq ft minus some where it crosses the other two runway widths. Why couldn’t a rehab of this “safety” runway be done in two halves and only for the portion usable? The remainder could be treated as an overrun but usable for takeoff IF necessary. If broken into east and west halves plus a lessor overhaul of the overruns, it could be done in three parts. OK … the FAA would likely want the runway done at once but — still — that’s two parts. I looked up the cost of asphalt; $4 to $6 X 102,450 is a lot less than a $1M estimate.

      How come KPWK’s “exspurt” doesn’t come up with this idea? Answer: it’s already been determined.

      Beyond THAT analysis, the City of Chicago should be required to kick in some denaro to maintain KPWK since it — effectively — illegally erased what was one of the finest GA airports adjacent to a downtown business area in the Nation. This made KPWK the alternate. If the FAA had any gonads, they’d require this.

      I own a hangar on a small GA airport in a nearby State which receives AIP Fund Block Grants from the FAA. it’s one of only 10 that do. The Feds dole out the money in a block; the State prioritizes the needs and pays 5% of total. Local entities match that. That State takes its airports seriously as one facet of its transportation network. I recently learned that when an airport needs something right away which needs extra $$, they “negotiate” with other airports to borrow their allocation with a memo to replace them in a future year. In other words, not only is the State managing things … so are the airports themselves. Everyone works together for the common ‘good.’ THAT is the way it should be done. But I forget that we’re talking about “Hellinois” here … (the ‘H’ is silent along with the ‘S’).

      As a kid growing up in Chicago, I remember what my Mother would do when a giant pothole needed fixed and she wasn’t getting help. She’d call the Precinct Captain and threaten to take 10 voters away if it wasn’t fixed NOW. Suddenly, 10 people would show up; one or two would be workers and the rest supervisors and managers … SIC! AND … it’d take all day There’s your problem.

    • I’ve flown out of PWK for years. It won’t come as a surprise to you that I’ve never seen them using all 3 runways at once.
      They use 16/34 as much as possible to accommodate the jets. Hell it’s more common for them to use 16 AND 34 simultaneously than to use all 3.
      Splitting the runway in 2 for construction wouldn’t work. Most of the operations on 6/24 are takeoff, not landings.

  5. Yes, it’s about money. And complaining about it now is 30 years too late. For decades Illinois political leaders made unsustainable pension commitments, engaged in fiscal crimes and cut taxes. During those years Palwaukee’s residents – including aircraft owners – mostly voted to keep them in office.

    I’m unsympathetic. If the airport’s users really need that money for a crosswind runway they should consider instigating landing fees.

  6. The “Consultant” has changed the setting from the topic at hand to the topic of rhetoric. That is how politicians get what they want. By shifting the foundation from “airports” to “air-headedness” the focus becomes: “Let’s shut down ALL the runways because then SAFETY will be MAXIMUM!”. There are a multitude of examples of this tactic at work today. It is a dishonest way of “getting what one wants”. Do you like people you deal with who use this tactic? Do you trust them? This tactic is used when the person has no legitimate argument to bring to the discussion.