Arthur Wolk takes on the City of Philadelphia and FAA for endangering users of a reliever airport.
This is a letter that Arthur Alan Wolk sent today to Daniel Goren, Esq. Division of Aviation – Philadelphia International Airport and Bill Banks, Manager, FAA Airports District Office – Flight Standards District Offices
Re: Northeast Philadelphia Airport (KPNE)
I am a tenant at The North Philadelphia Jet Center. I operate an Eclipse Jet. Other aircraft that regularly use the airport include all types of Gulfstream, Global Express and BBJ jets. These aircraft are heavier, land and takeoff faster and are bigger than many smaller air transport aircraft at KPHL including all models of the CRJ, Embraer Regional Jets and Embraer 175 aircraft, not to mention the Boeing 737 and MD-80s.
I understand that KPNE is designated as a reliever airport for KPHL. Whether the latter is true, in an emergency, its 7000 by 150 foot runway is a perfect alternate landing site for any large aircraft in trouble or where the runways at Philadelphia are fouled. The approaches are clear, the ILS and GPS approaches perfect, the landing distance is adequate and the width is safe for virtually any emergency which might include a locked up brake, blown tire, ice on the runway or just a bad landing or takeoff.
The condition of the runway was virtually perfect, and except for a slightly non-standard safety area off of Runway 24, it was within FAA runway specifications. I now understand that the entire length of Runway 24 is being dug up so its sub-structure can be brought up to current FAA specifications, but it is also to be narrowed by 50 feet because the FAA “won’t pay for restructuring the full existing width due to the aircraft that typically operate from there.” You’re kidding, right? April 9, 2019 Page 2
The FAA will pay to rip up a 7000 foot runway to the dirt, put it out of service for nearly a year, to increase the strength of the sub-structure, which is only needed for heavy aircraft like 150,000 lbs. or more, but will narrow the very same runway to a dangerous width because airplanes of that weight don’t typically use the airport. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t make sense to me either.
I have spent my life litigating aircraft accidents because of the FAA’s inexplicable absent oversight. The FAA airports division’s failure to get runways at public airports to meet specification, including runway safety areas designated since 1975 as 500 by 1000 feet is legendary, but narrowing an existing runway is beyond incompetent and just dangerous!
You will reap what you have sewn. A jet aircraft will go off the side of this narrow runway when it is icy or wet and the weather is down, at night likely when an approach might be flown at a higher landing speed with limited visibility.
If a large aircraft is waiting for takeoff at the end of Runway 24, it will bend the localizer and the next aircraft will be 50 feet off centerline. If the GPS signal is being tested or altered due to Defense Department needs, the loss of accuracy will put an aircraft on that approach off centerline by fifty feet or more.
As a taxpayer, I am angry that you would spend our money in such a frivolous fashion, and as a pilot I am appalled that you would compromise our safety in this reckless manner. I am asking my Senators and Congressmen to look into this, but if nothing is done I will file for an injunction with the federal court. The action taken is without factual support, is arbitrary, capricious and against the FAA’s own safety standards.
Incredibly poor judgment by the City and the FAA both of which should know better. You already have small aircraft that make it off the side of the existing runway, how many lives will be lost when a large aircraft with a bunch of people cartwheels off the side because there is no longer adequate pavement. Then your thoughts and prayers will be too late!
This decision must be reversed!
Very truly yours,
ARTHUR ALAN WOLK