We’ve been waiting for it and now it’s here. The FAA finally approved the runway extension at the new airport in West Bay to 10,000 feet. Right now the runway is 8,400 feet. The new airport, recently renamed Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is poised to open mid May 2010 and is on schedule and almost ready to begin FAA test flights.
FAA Approval has been pending for quite some time. Several things were causing the delay, but the main hang up was a favorable recommendation from the US Army Corps of Engineers, which came in October.
The initial 8,400 feet of runway was completed earlier this year and the extension is only expected to take about 4 weeks. All the preparatory work has been completed so that all they have to do is lay some asphalt, pour 15 inches of concrete on top and install the runway lights. 1,600 feet will be made very quick work.
When they were paving the initial 8,400 feet, we went up to the site and filmed the process, it’s pretty cool.
The extension of the runway to a full 10,000 feet will position the new airport to accept planes of virtually any size. In fact, in an interview with Roy Willett, Construction Manager for KBR earlier this year, pcbdaily was told that 10,000 feet will accept the largest of places, short of fully loaded Antonovs. The Airport Authority has been in talks with some international carriers and hopes to bring in the likes of Virgin Air or British Airways at some point.
The extension should be complete in about a month and should fall right on schedule with the scheduled FAA test flights on January 18, 2010.