Misperception #5: The Airport is Too Small to Land "Big" Airplanes


Before reading this blog entry, be sure to read the accompanying entries, Cameroon Monkeys and Leaky Windshields , Misperception #1: Airport Uses City Tax Money, Misperception #2: Airport Sets and Controls Ticket Prices, Misperception #3: The Airport Can Order Airlines to Fly Wherever We Want! , and Misperception #4: New Terminal Wasn't Needed...

"The airport is too small to land "big" airplanes!"

I got a renewed taste of this charge a couple of weeks ago while doing a call-in radio talk show. Fellow called in and said the new terminal was a waste of money...should have been spent building new runways so big airplanes could land in Springfield.

For the record, the runways at this airport are long enough to land any airplane under certain conditions. Runway 14/32 is 8000 feet long and runway 2/20 is 7000 feet. These runways are long enough to handle any plane under typical flight conditions for this airport. Let me explain...

The need for 10,000+ foot runways is generally driven by international flights on wide-body commercial jets (like the Boeing 747). Those flights are typically fully loaded with passengers, baggage and filled-to-the-brim fuel tanks. With all that weight they need 10,000+ feet to take-off. The same airplane, on a domestic route, wouldn't be nearly as heavy and could easily use our runways.

I think the only airplane we've ever been concerned about is the Antonov An-225. It's the largest plane in the world. Built in the Ukraine in the late 1980's, there's only one in existence and it's used to haul cargo. A couple of years ago there was talk that the Antonov would ferry Army helicopters to the repair depot in Springfield. A fully loaded Antonov would find 8,000 feet a bit spare! Apparently plans changed because the Antonov never showed up.

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