There's been a lot of changes going on at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport (ASE) in Aspen, Colorado. While most of the attention has been centered around runway length and airline service providers - United, American, and the recent addition of Delta - there actually has been several ground-based projects that are now either implemented or soon coming to fruition. This week, our blog team takes a closer look at what's planned for the Aspen airport and what's already done. Now doubt, if you've been to the Aspen airport recently, you might have noticed a few changes. Below, we break down all the projects - present and future.
- The new, expanded runway was completed on Nov. 2, 2012.
- A new area for deicing of aircraft was constructed adjacent to the parallel taxiway south of the passenger terminal.
- A new connector taxiway was built near the runway's mid-point in 2012. The new connector benefits aircraft by providing an additional route to and from the runway.
- The Aspen airport has finished some work in the gate area as of late-November 2013. The goal was to improve the use of space and to better provide gate information to departing passengers. These improvements included:Relocating the coffee and sandwich kiosk to the south end and adding limited bistro-style seating. Adding a new gate desk and podiums at the boarding gates. Adding gate information display monitors at each gate. Seating reconfiguration and increasing the usable interior space by the elimination of a wall and storage areas. The terminal roof conduit repairs are near completion as well as some minor upgrades to the fire suppression system for the terminal. This new addition should result in fewer delayed departures.
- Drainage and safety area improvements on the west side of the runway have been completed. This project reduces surface runoff that can cause erosion to the runway safety area.
- A new air traffic control tower camera system was upgraded in 2011.
- The airport is constantly working on landscaping projects around the airport. A multi-year landscaping plan for the airport is in the process of being adopted by the county. It sets general guidelines for future landscaping projects.
- Construction on a pedestrian underpass that will run below Highway 82 will continue into 2014. When completed, the underpass will allow pedestrians to walk underground instead of having to cross the busy state highway.
THE FUTURE The Pitkin County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) met during a work session on Nov. 19, 2013, to discuss a number to agenda items concerning what's called the aEUoeFuture Air Service Planning Study.aEU At that meeting, the following issues were discussed:
- What is the changing technology of future aircraft servicing Aspen?
- What can ASE do to best sustain future air service?
- How could ASE accommodate these operations?
- What are the impacts and benefits to the airport and community?
- What is the best for the future health of the community?
- Read a copy of Aspen's Future Air Service Planning Study
- There will be changes in the future, including the types of aircraft that fly in to the airport. There are currently two types of plans that fly into Aspen: the CRJ-700 (a jet) and the Q-400 Turboprop (a twin prop plane). As airlines improve their planes, these two types will be phased out and new ones brought in to replace them. The CRJ-700s began use in the early part of this century (around 2001) and are scheduled to begin being phased out around 2018. (The average life span for this type of aircraft is estimated at 15 to 17 years.) More than half the CRJ-700s in use now should be retired by 2021.
- The new generation of airlines - such as the Bombardier CS-100 - include improved efficiencies that include better fuel efficiency and climb gradient, as well as quieter engines and a lower carbon footprint. The CS-100 has less operating cost and have a seating potential of 100 to 149 passengers. Newer planes also have a longer and lighter wingspan, which means less drag and a stronger thrush - both increase fuel efficiency.
- Officials are also beginning to look at additional terminal upgrades - if they plan on eventually bringing in larger-capacity aircraft. Most of the terminals at the airport are 30-40 years old.
- Work continues on the design and construction of the pavement maintenance project for Runway 15/33 for the 2014 season. With the new paved shoulder, this will help with the snow removal operations and increase drainage efficiency.
- Officials will begin planning of Phase II of the project, which they hope to have complete by April 2014. They are currently gathering public information and input on the project. If you are a local interesting in contributing, contact Aspen City Hall.
- None of the current or future construction effects the operation of the airport, officials say.
- The majority of funding came from the FAA and the State of Colorado Aviation Grant Program. The remainder came from funds generated by the airport.
- More information on Aspen airport planning