Ann Arbor Airport Study Gets Public Hearing

Comment time extended on environmental assessment

At its Feb. 2, 2009 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council authorized funding for an environmental assessment of a proposed 800-foot lengthening of the runway at Ann Arbor’s municipal airport. The assessment began on May 4, 2009.

Run up area on airport extension

Jon Von Duinen, of the consulting firm URS, points to the "run up" area which would be located at the spot where the existing runway ends. Under the recommended option in the environmental assessment, this would put the "run up" area 950 feet from the end of the extended runway. The "run up" area is where aircraft bring their engines up to full power to test that everything is in working order. (Photos by the writer.)

And on Wednesday evening, from 4-7 p.m. at Cobblestone Farm, a combination of a dozen government officials and consultants held an open-house style public hearing on the draft report of that environmental assessment.

At any given time, during the hour The Chronicle spent at the public hearing, the hosts outnumbered visitors. In a phone interview the following day, Molly Lamrouex – with the aeronautics division of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) – told The Chronicle that around 20 people had filtered through Cobblestone Farm over the three-hour period.

The time for submission of written comments on the environmental assessment has been extended from April 12 to April 19 at 5 p.m. Emails can be sent to

In the context of the controversy about the runway extension – which has played out at Ann Arbor city council meetings over the course of the last year – the public hearing was somewhat subdued.

Who We Met

On arrival outside the barn, The Chronicle met Rick Olson, who had already touched base inside at the open house and was heading for the parking lot where his pickup truck was parked. The truck had a large campaign sign in the bed – Olson is a Republican candidate for state representative in the 55th district.

Olson stopped to chat with Andrew McGill, who was also headed to the public hearing. McGill has spoken against the proposed runway extension at multiple city council meetings over the last year.

After spending a bit over an hour at the open house, The Chronicle left to find a small cluster of people mingling outside in the warm breezy evening air. Among them was Kathe Wunderlich, with the Committee for Preserving Community Quality, which can be considered organized opposition to the runway extension. She was talking with Barbara Perkins, who served three three-year terms on the city’s airport advisory committee – she was first appointed by Mayor Albert H. Wheeler, who served from 1975-78.

Perkins told The Chronicle that she lived in the Georgetown area, which meant that the flight path for aircraft using the Ann Arbor municipal airport went right over her neighborhood. She recalled how the proposed airport runway extension had been a controversial issue dating back to the 1970s.

Perkins said she didn’t consider the open house format to be a proper public hearing – there was no opportunity to hold forth publicly. [Verbal comments were taken in a 1-1 session with a court reporter.] In past decades, Perkins said, over a hundred people had shown up and spoken about the runway extension at public hearings in the city hall chambers.

Who We Missed

Perkins and Wunderlich both had words of praise for current county commissioner and Ann Arbor resident Leah Gunn, who has opposed the possible airport extension over the decades. Email exchanges between Margie Teall (Ward 4) and then councilmember Leigh Greden at the city council’s March 16, 2009 meeting show that Gunn’s current opposition to the proposed runway extension is considered significant by Teall:

From: Leah Gunn
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 3:31 PM
To: Hieftje, John; Briere, Sabra; Smith, Sandi; Rapundalo, Stephen; Derezinski, Tony; Greden, Leigh; Taylor, Christopher; Teall, Margie; Higgins, Marcia; Higgins, Marcia; Anglin, Mike; Hohnke, Carsten
Subject: airport expansion

I have placed in your mailboxes a memo from me concerning airport expansion. I have also attached it here for your convenience, without the supporting newspaper articles.
You need to look VERY carefully at what you are doing, or you may be stuck paying for something for the next twenty years that you will have trouble justifying. There has never been a good time to lengthen the runway, and I believe that you have been given misleading information by certain advocates.


From: Teall, Margie
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 7:26 PM
To: Greden, Leigh
Subject: FW: airport expansion

What do you think? She is going to be very upset with Marcia and me. (She already is.)

From: Greden, Leigh
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 7:28 PM
To: Teall, Margie
Subject: RE: airport expansion

I sent it to Mark. I think the bottom line is bigger planes: can they come or not? If so, we’ve got a problem. If not, this entire organized opposition campaign is nothing but hot air.

From: Teall, Margie
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 7:37 PM
To: Greden, Leigh
Subject: RE: airport expansion

And I would say nothing but hot air, except for Leah and Bob Gunn…that worries me more.

From: Greden, Leigh
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 7:47 PM
To: Teall, Margie
Subject: RE: airport expansion

Leah’s email contained the boilerplate language. If she’s right, they’re all right. If she’s wrong, they’re all wrong.

From: Teall, Margie
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 7:56 PM
To: Greden, Leigh
Subject: RE: airport expansion

I don’t think it will matter to her.

From: Greden, Leigh
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 7:58 PM
To: Teall, Margie
Subject:RE: airport expansion

Probably right, but at least we can look consistent and appropriate.

It turns out that Gunn also attended the March 31, 2010 open house – The Chronicle left just before she arrived. In a follow-up email, Gunn concurred with Perkins’ view of the public hearing’s open house format, calling it a “sham.”

Open House Format for Public Hearing

The open house format at Cobblestone Farm consisted of a series of posters on easels positioned on the perimeter of the room, with government officials and consultants scattered throughout, available to introduce the content of the posters to visitors and to answer questions. Comment boxes were available for written statements. A court reporter was available to take down spoken comments. The criticism  about the format was based on the idea that there was not an opportunity for people to deliver remarks to an assembled public audience.

comment box at airport open house at Cobblestone Farm

Comment box at the March 31 open house at Cobblestone Farm.

Molly Lamrouex, with the aeronautics division of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), told The Chronicle that the format was a standard one, which had been used for the six years she’d been at that job. The Federal Aviation Administration had concurred with the open house format for that public hearing, she said. She added that the citizens advisory committee (CAC), which was formed as part of the process for the environmental assessment, had not raised objections to that format.

Voices among members of the  public in support of the runway extension over the last year have been somewhat rare, but not completely absent. One possible explanation is that people who support the extension are not entirely comfortable speaking publicly in a room filled with organized opposition.

In that context, Andrew McGill – part of the organized opposition – discussed with The Chronicle the public hearing format. McGill allowed that it could be daunting to speak in a room filled with other speakers who mostly disagree with your position. This is part of the rationale for a format that allows people to convey their views essentially in private to a court reporter. He also agreed people should be able to express their point of view without any kind of harassment. He concluded that both alternatives should be offered – a chance to speak to a public audience, as well as an opportunity to convey a point of view more privately.

The written comment submission form offered at the Cobblestone Farm public hearing specifies that name and address are not required.

The Draft Report

Much of the basic material in the draft report was presented in poster format at the open house.

Build Alternatives: No Build

Jon Von Duinen, of the consulting firm URS, walked The Chronicle through the basics of the four “build alternatives,” displayed on two posters. The “no build” alternative is one that would not change anything. On that scenario, there’s no environmental impact to assess. However, leaving the runway at its current length of 3,500 feet – instead of lengthening it to 4,300 feet – would not meet the need that has been identified in the draft environmental assessment report:

The existing runway length does not allow for the critical aircraft (B-II) to operate at their design capabilities without weight restrictions.

Here, “critical aircraft” is a technical term, which does not mean, as the phrase might suggest, “most important airplane.” The term refers to the most demanding kind of aircraft that regularly uses the airport. And “regularly use” means that it’s a kind of aircraft that is expected to have at least 500 operations (takeoffs and landings) at the airport per year.

For the Ann Arbor airport, the “critical aircraft” was determined to be a B-II. From the draft environmental assessment report:

A recent Airport User Survey has confirmed that the critical aircraft classification for  ARB is “B-II Small Aircraft” (MDOT, 2009). Aircraft in this category have runway  approach speeds between 91 and 120 knots, wingspans between 49- and 79-feet, and  maximum certificated takeoff weights of 12,500 lbs or less.

In the appendices to the environmental assessment, the case is laid out for consideration of B-II as the critical aircraft for Ann Arbor’s airport. It’s based on data from 2007 that is a combination of FlightAware information, showing 507 total operations of B-II aircraft, plus information from other sources that brings the total to 760. Those other sources include AvFuel, an Ann Arbor company that bases a Citation 560 Excel jet at the airport, and reported 211 operations in 2007.

screen shot of FlightAware

Screen shot of FlightAware realtime flight tracking. KARB is the Ann Arbor municipal airport. (Image links to live tracking site.)

Overall, the number of operations across all aircraft types at the Ann Arbor airport has shown a decline over the last two decades. [FAA operations data is available online.]

From 1991-2001, there were at least 100,000 operations at the airport in every year except for 1996, when the figure dipped to 99,590. Since 2001, the number has declined most years, and by 2007 the total number of operations had dropped to 72,853. By 2009 it had further dropped to 57,004, a 22% decrease over the most recent two-year span.

If the 22% decrease is applied to the 760 operations of B-II aircraft in 2007 and projected to 2009 data, it would translate to 585 operations, which still exceeds the minimum FAA threshold of 500 to consider B-II aircraft to be the “critical aircraft.”

The FAA circular on recommended runway lengths for different kind of aircraft provides guidance based on altitude of the airport and temperatures during the hottest period of the year. Ann Arbor is 829 feet above sea level and has average July temperature of  83 degrees.

According a FAQ provided on the city of Ann Arbor website, the increase in runway length to 4,300 feet would not allow larger kinds of aircraft to use the airport than already do – an increase to 5,000 feet would be necessary for that. But the increase to 4,300 feet would allow the kinds of aircraft currently using the Ann Arbor airport to operate without weight restrictions.

Allowing the current kinds of aircraft to operate there without weight restrictions would, according to the report, lead to an increase in the amount of interstate commerce to the Ann Arbor area.

Although improvements in safety are cited throughout the report as a benefit to the runway extension, there is not a safety finding that is driving a requirement that the runway be extended. From the report:

Although justification for the proposed project has been substantiated according to current MDOT and FAA standards associated with runway length recommendations, neither agency requires that the runway be extended. It is ultimately – and entirely – the decision of the city of Ann Arbor whether to not to proceed with the development of the project.

Build Alternative: Build 1, 2 and 3

The first alternative considered in the environmental assessment was one in which the runway was rotated 5 degrees counterclockwise, with an 800-foot extension to the southwest. The idea behind Build 1, explained Von Duinen, was to give as much consideration as aeronautically possible to the subdivision west of Lohr Road.

In terms of the environmental impact, that’s an alternative that would have required clearing 15 acres of trees, and the enclosure of 660 additional feet of a stream inside a pipe. It would have also had an impact on 1.3 acres of wetland, and required the removal of three buildings. Due to those impacts, that alternative was not recommended.

Ann Arbor municipal airport tower

Jon Von Duinen, points out the location of the control tower at the Ann Arbor municipal airport.

Build 2, said Von Duinen, was the alternative that was the simplest to implement from a construction point of view. It entailed adding 800 feet to the southwest end of the runway, but leaving the angle of the runway the same. That alternative was rejected on the basis of its failure to meet the purpose and need of the project.

Build 2 left two issues unaddressed. One is the lack of a sightline between the control tower and the northeast end of the runway. The second unaddressed issue is the short distance between the northeast end of the runway and State Street [which becomes State Road], running north-south on the east side of the airport property. The current configuration meets requirements, but if State Road were to be widened, as suggested in a 2006 State Road corridor study, the end of the runway would be too close to the road to provide adequate height clearance between road traffic and aircraft.

Build 3, which is the preferred alternative in the report, would address the end-of-runway-control-tower sightline issue by moving the northeast end of the runway 150 feet to the southwest. This would also address the State Road issue.

However, Build 3 requires that the effective 150-foot shortening of the northeast end of the runway be compensated by adding 950 feet – not just 800 feet – to the southwest end of the runway.

If a “run up” area on the Build 3 scenario were built at the end of the newly extended runway, it would be that much closer to the residential subdivision on the west side of Lohr Road. [The "run up" area is where aircraft bring their engines up to full power to test that everything is in working order.] So the “run up” area in Build 3 is proposed not at the end of the new, extended runway, but rather at the spot where the existing runway ends – to reduce the potential impact of noise on the surrounding area.


The noise analysis for the study was performed by Daniel Botto of URS, who works out of Florida. Chatting with The Chronicle, he allowed that he enjoyed his four days in Ann Arbor working on the project, but that he was not tempted to relocate here from Tampa.

Botto said his work depends on computer modeling of noise data for a particular airport configuration.  The information loaded into the model includes recorded noise data from various kinds of aircraft, runway locations and angles, flight tracks of aircraft, and average daily use by different kinds of aircraft. Botto indicated that for busier airports, the flight track data would be drawn from radar records, but for the Ann Arbor study, the flight tracks were estimated and then confirmed for general accuracy by control tower staff in Ann Arbor.

The relevant statistic for noise modeling around airports is the day-night average sound level (DNL). It’s described this way in the draft environmental assessment:

DNL is a 24-hour time-weighted-average noise metric expressed in A-weighted decibels (dBA) that accounts for the noise levels of all individual aircraft events, the number of times those events occur, and the time of day which they occur. In order to represent the added intrusiveness of sounds occurring during nighttime hours (10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.), DNL penalizes, or weights, events occurring during the nighttime periods by 10 dBA. This is due to the increased sensitivity to noise during normal sleeping hours and because ambient (without aircraft) sound levels during nighttime are typically about 10 dB lower than during daytime hours.

The conclusion of the environmental assessment was that the Build 3 alternative would not cause the levels above the threshold of 65 DNL to extend beyond the airport property.


At its March 15, 2010 meeting, the city council authorized payment for the environmental assessment, and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) asked for clarification from Ann Arbor airport manager Andrew Kulhanek about the absence of Canadian Canada geese in the report – an issue that had been raised by Andrew McGill during public commentary. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) drew out the fact that the report does not seek to inventory all the birds in the vicinity of the airport, but rather to identify which, if any, endangered species of birds are in the vicinity of the airport.

At the Cobblestone Farm public hearing, MDOT’s Molly Lamrouex confirmed that understanding. The section of the report that addresses endangered species of birds identifies two species:

Henslow’s sparrow, state endangered, (Ammodramus henslowii) and Grasshopper sparrow, state special concern, (Ammodramus savannarum) are known to occur on or in the vicinity of the area. The presence of these species has been confirmed by the Audubon Society during their annual counts at ARB over the last three years.

The Build 3 alternative, recommended in the report, is not projected to have a negative impact on the two species:

ARB revises the boundaries of this mowing annually with the Audubon Society, based on their most current bird count data. There would be no grading within agreed upon restricted mowing areas during the breeding season for either species which extends through late August for Henslow’s sparrow and mid-July for Grasshopper sparrow.

However, there are other parts of the report that include field observations of various wildlife that are not endangered species. And it’s these field observations that McGill points to when questioning why Canada geese are not mentioned in the report, when they are prevalent enough to warrant goose-crossing signs on some of the roads surrounding the airport. From the report’s description of “Biotic Communities”:

Several examples of wildlife were observed, including robins (Turdus migratorius), goldfinch (Carduelis tistis), purple martins (Progyne subis), killdeer (Charadrius viciferus), and a mating pair of redtail hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). Other observations include evidence of rodent tunneling (field mice or voles) and pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) that were heard calling. Airport staff stated that coyote (Canis latrans) and white tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have been observed on the airport property as well as wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). A comprehensive list of all the bird species observed by the Audubon Society at ARB is included in Appendix F.

The Audubon Society observed-species list in the appendix, which includes several common varieties of birds – like the American robin – does not include Canada geese.

Next Steps

Written comment on the draft environmental assessment can be submitted through April 19 to:

Molly Lamrouex
Airports Division
MDOT Bureau of Aeronautics and Freight Services
2700 Port Lansing Road
Lansing, MI 48906
FAX: 517-886-0366

Once all the comments from the public have been compiled, the issues raised in that commentary will be evaluated and a response to those issues will be prepared. After review of the response to comments and the draft report are evaluated by the FAA and MDOT, the final environmental assessment can be printed.

The final assessment will be distributed to all the various resource agencies like the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All the surrounding local municipalities will also receive a copy.

The creation of the final environmental assessment does not clear the actual project for takeoff. The project itself would be subject to authorization by the Ann Arbor city council, which just recently, at its Feb 1, 2010 meeting, struck the airport runway extension from the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP). The council adopted the CIP, without the runway extension, at its Feb. 16, 2010 meeting.


  1. By Leah Gunn
    April 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm | permalink

    The crucial information lacking here is that if the runway were extended, using mostly federal and state funds (which are YOUR tax money), the City of Ann Arbor is obligated to keep the airport open for the next twenty years. The Ann Arbor Airport is supposed to pay for itself, but $127,000 in General Fund money from the city was expended in 2009 because the airport could not afford to pay the pension benefits for its employees. There is another proposal on the table to pay about $35,000 more this year for “capital improvements”. It is obvious from the numbers given in the article that operations are dwindling. It is expensive to fly one’s own plane.

    Extending the runway and running the city’s general fund into debt, when there is a $5 million budget gap, is ludicrous. Also, the excuse is given that this is “paid for by the FAA” – well, that’s our tax money, too, and could be better used for improvements at airports with scheduled, commercial flights.

    We need a public hearing that is really public, in front of the decision makers. Those decision makers are the members of City Council.

    Our airport is fine as it is, and we should leave it that way.

  2. April 3, 2010 at 10:43 am | permalink

    The “comments to a court reporter” in lieu of open hearing raises some red flags to me, in the context of a briefing I attended last week. This section of the recent Highway J Citizens Group v. US Dept of Transportation decision (656 F Supp 2d 868, E.D. Wis, Sept 14, 2009) apparently was based on the Federal Aid Highway Act, but the lesson seems pretty close:

    “A public hearing provides a direct link between the citizen and his or her community, not an indirect link filtered through court reporters and open records requests. In short, an open house at which citizens can express their views to no one other than a court reporter is not a public hearing.”

    The remedy in that case, of course, was procedural only – to go back and hold a “real” public hearing. And, as I mentioned, that was apparently based in the public hearing requirement of FAHA, not the Draft EIS public hearing requirement of the National Environmental Protection Act – but it seems like people holding hearings may generally want to err on the side of safety and allow people so inclined to take to a podium.

  3. April 3, 2010 at 10:44 am | permalink

    Ahem. Sorry for the failure to close my italics.

  4. By Mary Morgan
    April 3, 2010 at 11:14 am | permalink

    Italics fixed.

    And thanks for passing along this extremely relevant information, Murph. I suspect we haven’t seen the last of this type of “public hearing,” and I agree with your comment re. erring on the side of a podium option, grueling though that might be.

  5. By Alpha Alpha
    April 3, 2010 at 11:43 am | permalink

    Leah –

    Additional crucial information that is lacking:

    Since the average compensation level of city employees has risen to a level that is approximately twice that of the average private worker
    (per BLS and city figures documented at; any airport budget compensation related shortfalls would naturally parallel the
    shortfalls seen city wide; thus, the airport deficit you referenced isn’t particularly relevant to the issue of runway changes.

    As city wages move closer to national averages,
    city deficits will be eliminated.
    With competitive wages, the airport, and other city departments,
    could easily provide a surplus to the city.

  6. April 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm | permalink

    We should treat the airport the way Rome treated Carthage: Destroy the buildings, plow up the runways, sow the site with salt, and declare it accursed.

    Aerisportus delendus est!

  7. By Barbara Perkins
    April 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm | permalink

    Here is a copy of the letter I sent to the representative of the Federal Aviation Administration who called to inform me that the Open House I had heard about was actually considered by the FAA to be a Public Hearing.

    April 1, 2010

    Ms. Lindsey Butler
    Federal Aviation Administration
    2300 East Devon Avenue
    Des Plaines, Illinois 60018

    Dear Ms. Butler,

    Thank you for your telephone message of March 26th alerting me that the event scheduled for March 31st at the Cobblestone Farm was viewed by your agency as a Public Hearing. I attended as a result of your call and I can tell you that though I have participated in public hearings in three levels of government, I have never seen anything like this.
    1. There was scant publicity for the Open House, as the event was called, made available to the public.
    2. No elected officials who have voting responsibilities on the project attended.
    3. The staff members of the companies and the aviation agencies involved outnumbered citizen attendants at all times during the three hour event.
    4. The citizen representatives handing out brochures opposing the project were kept outside, though since it was a beautiful day and there were so few visitors I doubt they viewed their position as a hardship.
    5. Only two representatives of the media attended, and they both observed it was unlike any public hearing they had ever experienced.
    6. And most important, if anyone had chosen to make a statement relative to the project there was no forum for any one to speak. The only option was to go into a separate room and speak to a court reporter.
    In the more than forty years I have lived within a mile and a half of the end of the 6-24 runway at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport, there have been multiple proposals to lengthen the runway. On prior occasions the required public hearing took place early in the process in the City Council Chambers with representatives of the FAA and MDOT sitting with the Mayor and City Council members. Citizens who wished to address the issue stood at the podium facing these officials and were given a stated amount of time to voice their opinion. Hundreds of citizens availed themselves of the opportunity. No such opportunity has been afforded during this most recent campaign.
    On the contrary, few meetings of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee were held, and those were closed to the public.
    In the process of preparing the Environmental Assessment the main justification for lengthening the runway was changed from pilot safety—the reason given to City Council—to the “critical aircraft concept,” an idea that received no public airing.
    I urge that this expansion campaign– which has almost completely excluded public participation–has so poisoned the process that the resulting report, with all its deficiencies, which will be dealt with in separate communications, should be rejected by your agency.
    There are those who insist that since “free” Federal monies are used for airport projects, local units of government ought to snap them up, no questions asked. As a frequent traveler who has paid the commercial ticket taxes that go into the Airport and Airways Development Trust Fund, I reject that cynical view. Tax money, however it is levied, should not be squandered on projects that have little benefit to the general public.

    Thank you again for your thoughtfulness in calling to let me know about this event, incorrectly dubbed a Public Hearing.
    Cordially yours,

    Barbara Perkins
    Cc: Molly Lamrouex MDOT Aero;
    Mayor John Heiftje and members of the Ann Arbor City Council 

  8. By S. Castell
    April 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm | permalink

    What I find very revealing is the fact that the public “reason” which was used to pass this project through the AA Council: “Safety” and “overruns” is not included in the “Study”.

    My main concern as a professional pilot and a member of the “Citizens Advisory Cmte” is: Altitude over densely populated area and contingency plans for emergencies. I have requested a study into departure and arrival profiles during the first meeting. Again, during the second meeting..It was finally provided during the last meeting. A study confirming the low altitude over homes. Yet, again, was not made part of this study.

    Let me add a comment in reference to “purpose and need” of this project. With the very close proximity of Willow Run, a much safer airport providing regular and emergency services ARB will never be able to offer. With the increased risk this expansion will pose on thousands of nearby residents, this study hardly justifies neither “purpose” nor “need”.

    Again, the sugarcoat was “overruns” and “safety”, yet there is no mention of any overruns in this EA.

    We could expand the discussion into the makeup of the “Citizens Advisory Cmte” and the way business was conducted, but why make the average reader even more cynical than they already are about the way their tax dollars are used ?

  9. By Dave Askins
    April 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm | permalink

    Re: [7] “‘Safety’ and ‘overruns’ is not included in the ‘Study’.”

    The issue of overruns actually receives some discussion in the draft study. Here’s an extracted passage:

    A local objective is to reduce the occurrence of runway overrun incidents. While overrun incidents are not officially recognized by the FAA or MDOT as justification for extending runways, there is merit to this local objective. The 11 overrun incident reports that were analyzed showed that most runway overruns at ARB involved small single- engine category A-I aircraft. These types of incidents often involve student pilots or low- time, relatively inexperienced pilots. There is no evidence in the incident reports that any of the aircraft which overran the end of the existing 3,505-foot runway exceeded the limits of the 300-foot long turf Runway Safety Area. Therefore, in each of these cases, the proposed 4,300-foot long runway would have provided sufficient length for the small category A-I aircraft to safely come to a stop while still on the runway pavement, without running off the runway end.

    The considerations mentioned above do not imply that the existing 3,505-foot runway is unsafe in any regard. Accelerate-stop distance requirements can be accommodated on the existing runway if pilots of critical category aircraft operate at reduced load capacities. In the cases of the previous runway overrun incidents, the turf Runway Safety Areas to the existing runway performed as designed and provided a clear area for the overrunning aircraft to come to a stop. There were no reports of personal injuries, although there were reports of aircraft damage in several of the incidents.

  10. By George Perkins
    April 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm | permalink

    In all of this, I am most concerned with the effect on the neighborhood of the airport. The problems for that area are almost unending, but here are a few as I have listed them in a letter to Molly Lamrouex of the Michigan Department of Transportation:

    Ms. Molly Lamrouex
    Airports Division
    MDOT Bureau of Aeronautics and Freight Services
    2700 Port Lansing Road
    Lansing, MI 48906

    Dear Ms. Lamrouex:

    It was good to talk to you, however briefly, at the Ann Arbor Airport’s showcase on Wednesday at Cobblestone Farm. I didn’t register as a visitor, but stopped in primarily to see friends, help distribute anti-expansion flyers, and look at the latest Airport layout plans. What struck me most about the posters was how inadequate they were to the case they were trying to make. The oldest of them was about forty years old, and represented the airport layout pretty much as it was when my family moved to Ann Arbor. Some of the others were more recent, but all of them regardless of date seemed to give a sense only of what the airport looks like from above. They did not display much of the area bordering the airport property. A dispassionate observer might easily conclude that they didn’t want to show the changes that have occurred in the airport’s environment.

    Had they displayed the areas beyond the airport’s boundaries, they would have shown some drastic changes. The house my wife and I moved into in 1968 was then and remains now about 1 ½ miles from the eastern end of the runway, but the farms and empty fields that used to lie between us and the airport have largely disappeared.
    Any one with the curiosity to take a draftsman’s protractor and draw a half-circle depicting a radius of 1 ½ miles from the airport today will find:

    • Housing for thousands of people in units that range from single family homes to condominiums and large apartment complexes.
    • Briarwood Mall, with its surrounding hotels, housing, restaurants, and ponds. (Briarwood’s ponds incidentally, are only a few of the many ponds at or around the airport that support the area’s large goose and duck population, a hazard for any airport.)
    • Numerous additional individual shops, restaurants, gas stations and strip malls.
    • Three schools: Bryant Elementary, the Jewish Community Center, and Ann Arbor Learning Community.
    • Several industrial parks which contain Federal Government offices as well as private corporations.
    • Two of Ann Arbor’s tallest buildings, facing each other at the corner of State Street and Eisenhower.

    A similar half-circle of 1 ½ miles to the west takes in a good portion of Stonebridge, a large, multi-unit housing development, which includes a golf course and several large ponds.

    Under the circumstances, it seems the height of irresponsibility for any agency to continue to push for a proposal that fails to diminish or completely eliminate the airport’s continued threat to the well-being of the region’s citizens and taxpayers.

    Sincerely yours,

    George Perkins
    Cc: Ann Arbor Mayor and City Council

  11. By Leah Gunn
    April 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm | permalink

    Reply to Alpha Alpha: your comment makes absolutely no sense. To say that city employees are paid at twice the rate of people in the private sector is just wrong.

    The AA Airport is an Enterprise Fund, and is supposed to pay its own way, through fuel sales and hangar rentals. This fiscal issue has nothing to do with salary ranges of employees.

    If the expansion is approved, the city’s General Fund is at risk of propping up the airport for the next twenty years. Those are the FAA’s regulations. Best not to be caught in this trap.

  12. By Alpha Alpha
    April 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm | permalink

    Um, no, not wrong.

    The numbers have been thoroughly evaluated, at the site mentioned.

    Read them; then the comment will make absolutely complete sense.

    City employees earn way above an average wage.

  13. By Brian
    April 3, 2010 at 7:13 pm | permalink

    Rich folks who want to bring their expensive toys to town and park them close to home. Let’s get on the table the real reason this issue is even being forced out for discussion. The rest of us should subsidize this boondoggle with our tax dollars (regardless of source), and be on the hook for 20 years? I think not.

  14. By S. Castell
    April 3, 2010 at 11:14 pm | permalink

    Mr. Askins.

    “The issue of overruns actually receives some discussion in the draft study.”

    I know. I was there. Yet I would have loved to see the “overrun report” as integral part of the study. After all, it is the argument they used to convince the AA Council that safety is an issue.

    Fact is Mr. Askins, this “overrun report” was prepared by Mr. Kulhanek the airport manager and Ms Ackland of JJR. Neither one is a professional accident investigator or a professional pilot.

    So let’s take this report and place it where it belongs: The nearest trash can. Now let’s look at each one of these 11 so called “overruns” .

    Not one of them Mr. Askins is attributed by the professional accident investigator of the FAA or the NTSB to a “short runway”. Just about every single one of them was: “Pilot error”.

    Pilot error is not more of a runway expansion reason than a car driving off a road would be to road expansion.

    Lets say one day I fly a B-757 and decide to make a stop at Ann Arbor… we will end up somewhere past the end of the runway. Does this mean that the runway at ARB is too short ?

    Of course it does not. All it means is that I made a stupid decision. I should have landed at Willow Run or Metro.

    The same applies to just about any overrun you will read about. So, speaking of overruns, lets not just take my word for it. Lets take a look at what Mr. Bernard Loeb, Director of aviation safety at the NTSB said after the Chicago Midway Southwest Airlines overrun which was yet another pilot error:

    “It is not the runway length that’s the issue,” said Bernard Loeb, who was director of aviation safety at the NTSB during the mid-1990s. “Runways are either adequate or they’re not.”

    I could not have said it any better.

    Now lets go back and look at ARB. Not only the unprofessional preparers of this report have just dismissed the professionals at the FAA and NTSB who have already ruled that none of the reported accidents had to do with runway length. But they have no problem taking money from these same agencies to extend the runway.

    And that is why I would have loved to see their “report” included in the EA.

    OK, lets continue with “overruns”.

    Do you realize Mr. Askins that 4 of these 11 cases, were such blatant pilot error, even the pilots themselves did not report them to the FAA ? Obviously they did not want such incident on their record, yet the airport authority has no problem using such blatant errors as an excuse.

    Now the one that had me almost fall off my chair was when they announced with straight face, that they uncovered another overrun…number 11…which again, was not reported, but it was a “hangar talk”.

    And this Mr. Askins is no joke ! Tax Dollars are being wasted on “hangar talk” and unreported cases.

    How do you think a court of law would treat these unreported cases ? Do you think any Judge would have remotely consider such “stories” as acceptable evidence ?

    Mr Askins, I am willing to sit with you, Mr. Kulhanek, Ms Ackland and the entire Airport Advisory committee and analyze each one of the reported overruns accident.

    What you will find Mr. Askins that even the single report not attributed to “pilot error” but a “mechanical” could have not been avoided with this project. The aircraft landed on Runway 06 and had a stuck throttle. It stopped by the fence close to State St. Not where the expansion will take place and probably why this single report is not, again: *not* mentioned in the Kulhank / Ackland overrun report.

    Lets focus in this: The folks who claim to be concerned with safety, failed to include the *only* report which could have had dire consequences to vehicles on State St. because it does not serve their purpose. yet included a prop striking a taxi light and “hangar talks” as “evidence”…

    That is why you will also not hear from the champions of safety anything about the nine fatalities in the vicinity of ARB. Although it has plenty to do with real safety. It does not serve their purpose.

    Again, nine people died in multiple crashes, none of which had anything to do with the runway, yet not a word to the public or the AA Council, because, Mr. Askins, this just does not serve the *real* purpose of this expansion: Increasing the weight carrying ability of aircraft.

    The audacity of this group crying safety with bogus overruns claims which did not cause even a scratch to a pilot’s fingernail, yet clearly ignoring multiple crashes into what is now a densely populated area, is the real problem with this study Mr. Askins.

    What do you think will happen when aircraft will have an emergency in the future ? This aircraft will be more complex, fly faster, and carry more fuel. You’ll be the Judge and the city of Ann Arbor is on notice.

    In closing, I will be extremely generous and include all of their stories and rumors to the grand total of 11 overruns. lets just be nice and ignore the facts of flying and aircraft performance. So we have 11 overruns out of around one million operations…

    That is: (Decimal point).00000(Here you can place whatever number you wish. It is statistically irrelevant).

    Yes. totally and utterly irrelevant. Unlike the crash killing 3 right next to Bryant school, 15 minutes after school was out…

    There you have Mr. Askins and thanks for your time.

  15. By S. Castell
    April 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm | permalink

    Alpha Alpha.

    I don’t like responding to “Call signs”. But in your case I will make an exception since your logic is very flawed.

    “As city wages move closer to national averages,
    city deficits will be eliminated.”

    Yes, city deficit may be eliminated, but what does this have to do with the airport ? All it means is that city’s general fund will have more money to support the airport.

    Who knows, they may need it for the next crash…

    “With competitive wages, the airport, and other city departments,
    could easily provide a surplus to the city.”

    Once again, apples and oranges. What do competitive wages in the city of AA have to with airport operations ?

    Airport operations are directly related to the price of fuel. Airport operations are in a steady decline. Airport operations have been in steady decline for almost a decade now.

    Just look at a chart of fuel price movement from $20s to today’s $80s place it in front of a mirror and you will get airport operations chart.

    A more “logical” claim would have been to state that airport operation will increase when fuel price declines back to the $30s range, maybe $40-$50…Ya, I know, we can always dream.

    Now lets talk about airport “operations”. The majority of these operation generate close to no benefit for the city of AA. What does a Cessna 172 generate while someone practices takeoffs and landing ? Few cents on fuel tax ?

    So while you may see big, yet declining numbers in airport operations, they are more or less meaningless when it comes to the city’s revenue and economy.

    Also as you know, the city floated debt to construct hangars at the airport in the past. I am sure you are well aware that not all hangars at the airport are occupied. In fact there is going to be one more leaving soon. A friend of mine is trying to sell his aircraft.

    lets not try and make Ann Arbor airport what it was never intended to be and concentrate on the real revenue growth generating airports in the area: Detroit Metro and Willow Run.

    We should be very content with our quality of life at AA while within reasonable driving distance to Metro and Willow Run. It make absolutely no sense to push for a decline in our quality of life.

    Have a great weekend. Its a beautiful day out there and next time, please let us know who you are.

  16. By S. Castell
    April 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm | permalink

    One clarification to my response to Mr. Askins.

    I said:

    “In closing, I will be extremely generous and include all of their stories and rumors to the grand total of 11 overruns. lets just be nice and ignore the facts of flying and aircraft performance. So we have 11 overruns out of around one million operations…

    That is: (Decimal point).00000(Here you can place whatever number you wish. It is statistically irrelevant).

    Yes. totally and utterly irrelevant. Unlike the crash killing 3 right next to Bryant school, 15 minutes after school was out…”

    While Bryant and Pattengill are now paired together. That was not the case back in 1973 when the crash occurred near Pattengill. I hope I did not confuse anyone with the school name.

    Both Bryant and Pattengill are obviously well within the AA city limit.

  17. By S. Castell
    April 4, 2010 at 6:43 pm | permalink


    I found this article in ref to the above crash: [link]

    >>Plane Crash Kills Three

    A small engine airplane crash took the life of three people as it crashed on Independence Street near Pattengill School. The plane crash occurred just after school let out and Chief Krasny said it was “amazing that no one on the ground was injured.”

    The plane had just taken off from the Ann Arbor Airport and was carrying Dr. Thomas Nicholudis, William Pollard and Carolyn Howke. Nicholudis was piloting the plane back to California, as he had been in town for a conference for orthopedic surgeons.

    As the plane took off, it immediately developed engine trouble and one witness said the propellers stopped. The plane swooped over the school and nearby houses before falling to the ground with such force that the engines were buried three feet into the ground. All three on board were killed instantly.<<

    Why is this article so important ?

    Because the Environmental Assessment chose not to include the departure / arrival / contingency plans as part of their assessment.

    This is probably the most important safety topic the should have discussed. The safety of thousands in the greater AA community.

    What most non pilots fails to understand is one simple ugly fact: A light twin engine aircraft, will not climb on one engine. It is simply not required to demonstrate any climb performance at takeoff configuration on one engine when certified by the FAA.

    As such this aircraft will not even be able to make a turn back to the airport. The aircraft will be uncontrollable (As a result of increase in VMc).

    The pilot of light twin on one engine during departure has practically one choice: Pull the power back on the operating engine and try and make a "controllable crash" straight ahead.

    This goes however against every instinct one has: TO keep the aircraft airborne. Which is exactly why you see light twins crash at close proximity to the airport when experiencing engine problems and while trying to turn back to the runway.

    Such information combined with the knowledge of the area around ARB led to my request of the "contingency plan" and the departure profile.

    While URS (The airport engineering firm) did provide a diagram in the last Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, it was not made part of the Environmental Assessment to be presented for federal approval.

    Now let's talk about weight. Why is this issue so important ?

    Simply because this is the real force behind this expansion. It never has been about safety of pilots. For sure not safety of the community. The real purpose is to allow select few aircraft carry more fuel and payload.

    Not only that little fact was not told, but the pro expansion forces tried their best to keep the public and the AA Council pacified with their line:

    "Airport category will remain the same".

    ladies and gentlemen. In the beginning ARB had an aircraft weight limit of 12,500 lbs. Today, it has moved up to today's advertised 20,000lbs (The takeoff gross weight of small business jet is around 20,000lbs).

    In the Airport Layout Plan however, the weight limit will be: 70,000 lbs !

    More than five times the original weight limit held by previous AA city councils.

    Heavier aircraft fly faster are less maneuverable at slow speeds and carry more fuel. As such they pose more risk in the event of an emergency.

    Thank you for time and interest.

  18. By Brian
    April 4, 2010 at 7:06 pm | permalink

    Am I correct in interpreting his comments that Alpha is advocating the city should anticipate future revenue supluses due to closing wage differentials, and in turn plan to dedicate this “surplus” to the airport?? Beg to differ, but any surplus the city realizes down the road would be far better spent propping up facilities like the golf courses and Vet’s park. Not a flying toy facility utilized by a few (who probably live north of city limits anyway).

  19. By Alpha Alpha
    April 4, 2010 at 8:07 pm | permalink

    Thank you S. Castell.

    No flaws in logic.

    The original comment and subsequent clarification was simply to
    differentiate between issues;
    the city wide deficit issue has little to do with other airport issues.

    Different issue, different cause, different solution.

    Good luck.

  20. By Ray Hunter
    April 6, 2010 at 9:00 am | permalink

    I would like to compliment the author on a balanced article. There were some inaccuracies that should be pointed out. In the photo, there was a caption that described the run-up area. It said that the “run up” area is where aircraft bring their engines up to full power to test that everything is in working order.
    I don’t know of any pilot who bring their engines up to full power. Normally engine checks are done at substantially lower (and less noisy) power settings. Operating an engine at full power without proper airflow and cooling can cause damage. Normally the checks take only a few seconds to ensure proper operation.
    I would like to address the comments made by various individuals and make some corrections. Leah Gunn is correct in stating that airports must remain open for 20 years after FAA funded improvements. The 20 year clock was already reset a few years ago for runway improvements, lighting improvements, and other federal outlays. We are already obligated for approximately 15 years so the total years of obligation would only be extended by several years.
    The comments by George and Barbara Perkins are puzzling. Because of the runway offset, altitudes for aircraft arriving and departing over their neighborhood will actually be increased.
    Mr. Castell mentioned that the weight limit for the runway has been increased to 70,000 pounds and suggests that aircraft weighing that much will soon be operating from the airport. It is true that the runway will support an aircraft with a single wheel configuration of 43,000 pounds and with a dual wheel configuration, the weight is 70,000 pounds. This increase in weight bearing capacity was the result of improvements made several years ago when a layer of concrete was poured over the existing asphalt. The taxiways and ramp areas were not changed…they are the limiting factor and could not possible support an aircraft of those weights. This fact was explained during meetings of the Citizens Advisory Committee. Mr. Castell is a member of that committee.

  21. By Barbara Perkins
    April 6, 2010 at 9:05 am | permalink

    Mr. Castell brings to the fore what should have been a major concern throughout–safety of the thousands of residents whose homes and schools surround the airport. The crash site on Independence is about two miles from the end of the runway. My home is a mile and a half, downtown Ann Arbor is about three miles; Michigan Stadium is less than that. In other words, we are all potential victims.

    We need to get serious about this. Can the diagram Mr. Castell refers to prepared by the engineering company URS relative to contingency plans and departure profiles be sent, along with the other materials prepared for this “environmental assessment,” to MDOT and FAA?

  22. By Brian
    April 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm | permalink

    With a longer runway, can we all expect bigger planes with longer streaming banners on game days? Swell.

  23. By Ray Hunter
    April 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm | permalink

    Brian – The small airplanes that tow the banners do not even use the runways…they pick up the banners from a grassy area south of the runway. You should go watch it. Per regulations, they cannot be close to the stadium from 1 hour prior to kickoff until 1 hour after the end of the game. This all changed after the attack on the WTC, and the Pentagon. The banner program will not change.

  24. By Ray Hunter
    April 6, 2010 at 4:33 pm | permalink

    The accident referenced by Mr. Castell was indeed tragic. I could find no reference in the official accident report to a failed engine. The probable cause was more than likely Spatial disorientation and improper operation of the flight controls. The weather at the time was not good with 600 foot ceiling and visibility of 2 miles or less. [link]

  25. By S. Castell
    April 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm | permalink

    Mr. Hunter.

    “I could find no reference in the official accident report to a failed engine. The probable cause was more than likely Spatial disorientation and improper operation of the flight controls. The weather at the time was not good with 600 foot ceiling and visibility of 2 miles or less. ”

    You could not find the official report because the NTSB did not exist at the time.

    I have to smile though because your group (Ray Hunter is a member of the Airport Advisory Cmte.) is yet to inform the public of any crashes or even bother with reported incidents when it comes to pushing a specific agenda.

    That said. It really does not matter what the reason is when an airplane is coming down crashing through your roof.

    I would hate to bore you countless other crashes in the vicinity of airports. Here is just one more (Although the article mentions few others at the same airport) as it is a classic example of twin engine ‘performance’, or lack there off on a single engine.

    Loss of control as a result of increase in VMc (Minimum control airspeed)during a turn.

    “east of the airport when the pilot radioed the air traffic control tower to report that he was going to return due to mechanical difficulties and engine problems. Controllers cleared the air traffic and the runway and told the pilot he was clear to return.

    The pilot turned the plane west, back toward the airport, Lamberti said. Southeast of the airport, the plane was headed northwest, trying to go back, when it lost altitude, hit a power line and a tree and then crashed into the house.”


    Thanks for participating. Good discussion !

  26. By S. Castell
    April 7, 2010 at 11:32 pm | permalink

    Mr. Hunter.

    In ref. to your statement:

    “Mr. Castell mentioned that the weight limit for the runway has been increased to 70,000 pounds and suggests that aircraft weighing that much will soon be operating from the airport. It is true that the runway will support an aircraft with a single wheel configuration of 43,000 pounds and with a dual wheel configuration, the weight is 70,000 pounds. This increase in weight bearing capacity was the result of improvements made several years ago when a layer of concrete was poured over the existing asphalt. The taxiways and ramp areas were not changed…they are the limiting factor and could not possible support an aircraft of those weights. This fact was explained during meetings of the Citizens Advisory Committee. Mr. Castell is a member of that committee.”

    I was indeed a member of CAC and during the first meeting I asked airport manager Mr. Kulhanek to explain how the weight limit has changed from 12500 lbs to what is advertised today: 20,000 lbs. While I did not get to hear any explanation for this first almost doubling of the weight limit, Mr. Kulhanek informed MDOT Representative that the limit should be (Yes, another double !) changed to 40,000 lbs.

    So…here is a question for you Mr. Hunter:

    If the limiting factor is indeed what the taxiways are certified for, why does Mr. Kulhanek insisted and why is the limit in the Airport Layout Plan increased to 45,000 lbs and 70,000 lbs (Double wheel) ?

    Are you expecting aircraft to land and park on the runway ?

    This will also be a perfect time to introduce the public to the makeup of this so called “Citizens Advisory Cmte”

    The Cmte includes AA Ward Reps. Ward 4 rep is Mr. Hunter. It just happens, that Mr. Hunter is also on the Airport Advisory Cmte… Yes, that Cmte which is tasked in advising the Mayor and the AA Council about the airport. Yes. The same Cmte which told the AA Council: Overruns are a serious safety issue, we need a longer runway…

    Sounds mighty convincing to a non pilot. Yet I seriously doubt Mr. Hunter or Mr. Perry, the Cmte Chair or the airport manger had ever bothered to explain that the real purpose was and is : increasing takeoff and landing weight for aircraft operating out of ARB with total disregard to safety of nearby communities.

    Moving on to Ward 3 Rep. on the CAC: That person, just happened to also be a …Flight instructor at ARB.

    But wait ! This is not all. The Chairman of that Airport Advisory Cmte I mentioned above. Yep ! He was yet another member of the CAC.

    Of course, the Airport Manager had to be there as well and in my humble opinion was actually running the show. One example is that he and Ms Ackland of JJR actually created the “overrun report”. Neither one of them is either a professional pilot or an accident investigator.

    And if you are not cynical enough yet, there was another person on the Cmte. An FAA safety volunteer. And yes, you got it ! It just so happened that he also is a Flight Instructor at ARB…

    OK, did I miss anyone ? Oh yes. How could I ?

    There is one corporate jet on the airport which belongs to AvFuel. The company which also sells fuel at the airport. The Jet is a Citation XL.

    If you Google that jet’s performance, you will realize that ARB is just a little bit too short for it to operate at full takeoff gross weight.

    And you got it folks ! The pilot of that jet was yet another member of the CAC. You must be thinking dear reader that I am making this up …I am not.

    Mr. Derezinski of the AA Council was another member and to appear neutral there were also few women representing Lodi and Pittsfield yet they lacked the aviation background.

    How did I end up on this Cmte ? Well, I was not welcomed. Even even Ms Kristin Judge a Washtenaw County Commissioner and critical of this project needed some “help” to be included. We were “biased”, they claimed.

    I guess, we did not posses the right kind of “bias”.

    So, long story short, here is a Cmte of folks with one goal in mind: Expanding the runway so aircraft will be able to carry more weight, and to do so, finding “user friendly” reasons for this expansion that they can promote in the media and to the AA Council.

    “Safety” is the no brainer they were advocating as the reason to expand.. But of course they are quiet about community safety and history of fatal crashes.

    Line of sight from the tower, was another “safety” issue cited.. Mind you, the airport operated like this for the past 20-30 years. When the tower is closed from 8 pm to 8 am, all of a sudden this “problem” is no longer an issue …Is it ?

    So where am I going with this ?

    These same people, told the public: “Airport Category will remain the same”. Meaning : Do not worry, nothing will change.

    What they did not tell:

    1. Aircraft will be heavier.

    2. Additional aircraft will be able to now operate out of ARB.

    3. Cat B-2 Does not mean that the runway can only creep up to 4300′. Even 5000′ runway can still be Cat B-2.

    4. Heavier aircraft are more complex, fly faster and carry more fuel. (BTW, did you know that JetFuel contains Lead ? Yes, Ann Arbor, the water you drink come from the airport ! That’s why the city originally bought the land: For water rights, not to operate an airport…)

    Obviously, these folks have a proven track record of failing to enlighten the rest of us with all the facts.

    So, are we now to sleep soundly at night because they promise us that the fact the Airport layout plan and the actual runway already allow up to 70,000 lbs? It ain’t going to happen because the taxiways are the limiting factor ???

    Puhleeeez …

    Again, if the taxiway limit is less that 70,000 lbs, why bother changing the advertised limit if the real intent is not to bring in heavier aircraft ?

    As I have mentioned before: 70,000 is almost six (!) times more than 12500 lbs.

    These folks have long term plans and proven track record. These plans have absolutely no place in the midst of thousands of families. Especially with Willow Run right next door.

    Again. Good discussion.

    Keep it going.

  27. By Ray Hunter
    April 8, 2010 at 10:02 am | permalink

    Mr. Castell – I will try and answer some of your questions and comments.

    With regard to the crash in 1973. You stated that

    “You could not find the official report because the NTSB did not exist at the time.” I provided a link to the accident report, the official NTSB Identification number assigned to the accident report is CHI73AC089. The probably cause was “spatial disorientation” and “improper use of flight controls.” I do not know when NTSB was established, but FAA did investigate the accident and provided a report.

    I understand Vmc and how aircraft performance is established. An engine failure after takeoff in a twin is a serious situation if not handled properly…not all such incidents result in crashes…do you agree? The “doomsday” scenarios that you are creating could in fact happen under today’s runway configuration. A longer runway would provide more decision time for pilots.

    As far as the weight bearing capacity of the airport is concerned, there is no plan to try and attract aircraft that weigh 43,000 or 70,000 pounds. The 20,000 pound limit that has been established is advertised widely in all of the flight publications that pilots use to plan their flights to and from ARB. Again, the 43,000 and 70,000 pound numbers only reflect the capacity of the runway, not the ramp or taxiways.

  28. By S.Castell
    April 8, 2010 at 7:58 pm | permalink

    Mr. Hunter.

    “there is no plan to try and attract aircraft that weigh 43,000 or 70,000 pounds. ”

    If this is the intent. Why has Mr. Kulhanek informed MDOT that the 20,000 lbs limit should double ?

    As I have mentioned. The higher weight is also clearly indicated on the ALP.

    “The “doomsday” scenarios that you are creating could in fact happen under today’s runway configuration. A longer runway would provide more decision time for pilots.”

    Mr. Hunter, I do not create “doomsday” scenarios. Such scenarios happen as a result of lack of planing.

    When I flew 757s in and out of Vail Co. (KEGE), we practiced in the simulator how to clear the mountains in the event we lost and engine on takeoff. We developed a specific procedure and trained for it. We did not just “hope” it would not happen.

    That is why I asked for contingency plans at the first meeting.

    The departure / arrival profile provided by URS, clearly indicate aircraft flying over homes at less than 100′.

    Let me make sure I was clear: Less than 100′ !

    This was not made part of the Environmental Assessment.

    As you know, Federal Aviation Regulations 91.119 states :

    “Sec. 91.119

    Minimum safe altitudes: General.

    Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
    (a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
    (b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.”

    I understand very well the exception it makes for takeoff and landings. But I also know all too well that Federal and Michigan law sees 1000′ as minimum safe altitude.

    At ARB we are not even close to such altitude.

    Yet you advocate a longer runway again using the reasoning of the same ol’ “bogus logic” I have only seen coming from your group and the airport management “Allow pilot more decision time”.

    As I am sure you know, pilots are not trained for ample decision time. V1 is a split second go-no go decision.

    Your next argument will be: Student pilot…

    Answer: They fly touch and goes on the same runway all day long. Obviously they have plenty for a landing and taking off on the remainder of that runway.

    Considering the fact most single engine aircraft need less than 1000′, they have more than x3 the runway needed to decide what to do…(As per your logic).

    What your logic fails to understand is that shorter runway is the best filter for area residents.

    Shorter runway limits aircraft weight. As such high performance heavier aircraft will just have to use Willow Run.

    With aircraft flying over homes today at LESS than 100′ (Per URS), the last thing I want to see is an even heavier, faster aircraft in an emergency over the densely populated areas near the airport.

  29. By S.Castell
    April 8, 2010 at 9:10 pm | permalink


    My last paragraph should read:

    “With aircraft flying over homes today at LESS than 500′ , the last thing I want to see is an even heavier, faster aircraft at less than 100′(Extended Runway operations per URS airport designers)on an emergency over the densely populated areas near the airport.”

  30. By Ray Hunter
    April 10, 2010 at 8:42 am | permalink

    “When I flew 757s in and out of Vail Co. (KEGE), we practiced in the simulator how to clear the mountains in the event we lost and engine on takeoff. We developed a specific procedure and trained for it. We did not just “hope” it would not happen.

    That is why I asked for contingency plans at the first meeting.”

    It’s good that the corporation you flew for required contingency plans for operation at high altitude airports surrounded by mountains.

    Ann Arbor is not such an airport and in any case you are asking the wrong people to develop these “contingency” plans. It is pilot responsibility, not MDOT, not airport manager, not FAA. The PIC flies the machine.

  31. By S. Castell
    April 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm | permalink

    Mr. Hunter.

    “Ann Arbor is not such an airport”

    While there are no mountains around ARB, homes are an obstacle for an aircraft that can not climb on one engine and actually loses altitude and possibly control when it banks.

    Even higher performance aircraft, such as AvFuel Citation drops from a rate of climb of 3500 FPM at Sea Level with both engines running, to around 700 Feet Per min on one engine. That means if such an aircraft was to lose an engine on takeoff, within 20 seconds, the aircraft will fly over homes at around 200′ IF no other problems are present and the pilot flies ‘by the book’.

    How would you feel living around that airport ?

    By the way, I do not work for a corporation. I fly for an Pt 121 airline. We have to go back and train in the simulator every 3 months if we did not takeoff and land at least three time in 90 days. One of the items we practice EVERY TIME, is engine failure on takeoff. It is THAT critical.

    Now lets go back and discuss ARB. The airport’s own FAQs state:

    “Page 14:

    “During 2008, 98.1% (63,668 operations) of all operations (64,910 operations) at ARB were conducted under Part 91 general”

    What is not stated is the fact that Part 91 is the LEAST regulated of the FARs. These folks do not have to practice the more stringent Part 121 requirements. Not in training, performance or even medical requirement.

    Back to your comments:

    “and in any case you are asking the wrong people to develop these “contingency” plans. It is pilot responsibility, not MDOT, not airport manager, not FAA.”

    Excellent observation !

    I sure hope you informed the Mayor and Council members that MDOT has absolutely no concern whatsoever with the safety of the community. The ONLY thing MDOT is concerned about is WEIGHT !

    MDOT sees it’s mission to take my tax Dollars and make certain all cat. B-2 aircraft can depart FULLY LOADED.

    The irony of this mission is that MDOT does not even care if they really NEED to carry all that weight or WHAT they carry.

    But again you brought up a very important issue: MDOT does not care about contingency plans or the safety of the community around the airport, even though these are the citizens who paid the taxes for MDOT gets to play with…

    As for the FAA. They do care about safety.

    Remember: FAR 91. 119 States PIC is to stay 1000′ above an obstacle in a densely populated area. Using the exclusion “except for takeoff and landing” the area around ARB is around 90% LESS safe than what the FAA considers MINIMUM safe altitude.

    You also said:

    “The PIC flies the machine.”

    Exactly ! But when his machine is not certified to climb on one engine there is not much he can do. That is why today with a runway that limits heavier aircraft and a 2500′ stretch of open space past the runway (Clearway), the airport is actually MORE SAFE than it will be with a longer runway. Especially considering the fact that the extended runway will be shifted closer to homes.

    I am willing to debate you and the entire Airport Advisory Cmte on this topic. We can also review all accident reports if you like while discussing “purpose and need”.

    As I have said: There is nether a “purpose” nor the “need” for this project.

    Again, thanks for the discussion !