First, Kauai Airport (LIH) has needed to get compliant with FAA safety rules for more than 15 years but has not done so. At long last, however, the county planning commission this week approved permits that allow the state DOT/Airports to complete the long overdue runway relocation project. Previously the airport had been operating under an FAA exemption to those safety requirements since the Hawaii DOT/Airports said they couldn’t make the needed improvements. Following that, the FAA provided the state with an alternative plan which has been adopted, and for which the state allocated funds for the work to commence.
Lihue airport is the only airport in the U.S. that doesn’t comply with FAA runway safety rules.
After the relocation work is completed, one of the runways will shift by 855 feet. The reason is to increase the protective space around the runway, for safety in the event of any failed landing.
In addition, there will be a new 920′ wall built, plus a 200′ “blast pad.” Lastly, lightly will be brought into compliance by changing to LED from the current incandescent type lights The upcoming runway project is scheduled to begin next fall.
Additional gates won’t happen at this time due to opposition.
There was a huge community outpouring to quash the Hawaii DOT’s plan to add three additional gates to the seriously overcrowded airport. After that, the DOT dropped the plan and decided to focus on the modernization of the current airport. Repairs and improvements to the existing facility are badly needed, but we’ll skip the restroom photos among others that would clearly make that point. As you know, Hawaii airports still land at the bottom in U.S. rankings.
The planning department said that the state DOT/Airports is also still “looking at possible improvements besides the runway, to expand the actual facilities in the airport.”
Overloaded, problematic gates are becoming the norm at Lihue Airport.
There aren’t enough gates to accommodation flights, especially at peak times, It isn’t clear how the state plans to deal with that situation, And it may not be in the DOT’s purview to decide on the number of flights and their schedules. So this may get interesting.
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the largest transportation agency of the U.S. government and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the country… Its powers include air traffic management, certification of personnel and aircraft, [and] setting standards for airports.”
Editor Jeff mentioned that when he flew from Lihue this week, his plane departed from gate 10a, which in reality is no gate at all. Instead, it is the opening to a stairwell that leads to the ground. After a walk, boarding ramps are used to access flights now regularly using that “gate.” Inasmuch as it appears to have as never been intended to be a regular-use gate, among other problems there is problematic, slow, and limited handicapped access for those flights.
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