EASTON AIRPORT’S RUNWAY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
In 2006, Easton Airport started conducting an Environmental Assessment to plan for future safety improvements and to determine how the airport would conform to new FAA design standards. After an exhaustive 12 year assessment, Easton Airport’s plan was approved in 2018. The “FInal EA” can be found in it’s entirety here: ESN_Final_EA_FONSI
While we are pleased to make this document available for the public to download and review, we understand that the document contains highly technical data that is not always easy to understand. Please direct any questions about our project to Micah Risher, Airport Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the early 2000s, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated their design standards for all the airports in the nation. The primary goals were to increase safety, decrease delays, comply with federal environmental standards and encourage innovative technologies that promote safety, capacity, and efficiency.
The largest impact to Easton Airport was the need to increase the size of the Runway Safety Area (RSA) to ensure 1,000 ft. existed at both ends of the primary runway. To accomplish this, the threshold of Runway 22 was displaced and the operational use of Runway 4 was restricted to only 4,775 ft.
This graphic depicts the Runway 22 threshold displacement.
This interim solution was enacted via waiver with the FAA in July 2008. Fortunately, Easton Airport had already started the process of conducting an environmental assessment and was in the planning stages to determine a long term solution.
Over the next few years, a few options were vetted with community involvement and periods of public comment. It was eventually decided that the best solution was to add additional length to the primary runway and then demolish the northern portion of runway.
This graphic is not to scale. It is intended to show the concept that runway length will be added to the southwest (green) and then demolished on the northeastern end (red) of the current runway.
This plan required Easton Airport to purchase the adjacent property, formerly owned by the Black and Decker Corporation. This would allow for the “shift” of the runway to occur and provide enough space for the required 1,000 ft. Runway Safety Area. Talbot County purchased the property for this purpose in January 2017.
This graphic is not to scale. It is intended to show the concept of the new runway location with 1,000 ft. safety areas on both ends.
After an exhaustive 12 year planning period, the Environmental Assessment was finalized on September 29, 2018. The EA reviewed the following areas and determined there were either no impacts, or that the impacts could be properly mitigated:
- Air Quality
- Biological Resources
- Coastal Zone Management
- Hazardous Materials, Solid Waste, and Pollution Prevention
- Historical, Architectural, Archaeological, and Cultural Resources
- Socioeconomics, Environmental Justice, and Children’s Environmental Health and Safety Risks
- Water Resources
- Construction Impacts
It’s also important to note that this is the only FAA approved plan and all other alternatives that were explored over a decade ago have been abandoned.
Some misconceptions still exist today, but Easton Airport has NO PLANs to purchase and demolish any homes, will NOT extend the runway towards Rt.50, and will NOT extend the runway towards Goldsborough Neck Rd.
OBSTRUCTION REMOVAL PROGRAM
Easton Airport’s Runway Improvement Project will take place in phases over the next 10 years and is expected to be complete by 2030. A number of enabling projects are currently underway and must be completed before the new runway can be constructed. The Airport’s Obstruction Removal Program will be the most visible to the surrounding community.
The purpose for Easton Airport’s Obstruction Removal Program is to remove obstructions (primarily trees) that penetrate the “approach surfaces” into the airport. This is being done to comply with Federal Regulations as defined by 14 CFR Part 77 – Safe, Efficient Use, and Preservation of the Navigable Airspace. This is a very precise determination that is airport specific. The graphic below depicts the general concept of how the FAA determines what airspace needs to be protected. It’s important to note that this does not necessarily mean that aircraft will be flying lower. This defines the lower limit of protected airspace, not the actual flight path of an aircraft.
This video is helpful in understanding Airport Imaginary Surfaces:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Easton Airport’s Runway Improvement Project is dynamic, complex, and will take the better part of 10 years to complete. It’s important that the community has access to facts and accurate data when they have questions or concerns about the airport’s growth. These questions are answered by Micah Risher, Easton Airport Manager, and reflect the most accurate data regarding the future of Easton Airport. If you have a question or comment, please email email@example.com
What sizes and types of aircraft will be allowed to use the airport?
Easton Airport accommodates a range of aircraft, both propeller driven and jets. There will be no change to the types of aircraft that use the airport.
The more technical answer: The Airport Reference Code for ESN is D-II for existing and future conditions. “D” represents the aircraft approach speed (141-165 knots); “II” represents wingspan (49-78 feet). The existing design/critical aircraft is the Hawker 800. For the future runway, the future critical aircraft is expected to be the Challenger 300/350 series aircraft.
What flight paths must aircraft follow arriving and departing?
Procedures have been established by Air Traffic Control that safely move aircraft into and away from Easton Airport. They vary from time to time depending on real time air traffic conditions and the type of operation that is being conducted. Safety is the most important factor when determining flight paths. We also have a voluntary “good neighbor” Noise Abatement program that limits as much aircraft noise as possible from the Town of Easton.
How many trees will be removed, and which specific areas will be affected?
Easton Airport has paid into the Town of Easton’s Forest Conservation Act to ensure more trees will be planted. The main work area is on current airport property. 10.62 acres will be cleared to start creating the new Runway Safety Area. An additional 190 individual trees will be removed from properties adjacent to the airport. It’s important to note that all property owners have given permission and many desire the removal of older trees that could fall and damage their property.
Were any environmental impact studies conducted?
Easton Airport’s Runway Improvement Plan has been thoroughly studied. An environmental assessment was conducted for 12 years, beginning in 2006 to finalization in 2018. The study was very involved and looked at land, air, water impacts as well as noise, climate, and socioeconomic impacts. After an exhaustive planning stage, the FAA issued “Finding of No Significant Impact” in September 2018.
What about impact to Wetlands?
In 2019, Easton Airport created nearly 11 acres of new wetlands here in Talbot County to mitigate for any wetlands that will be disturbed.
I have heard Easton Airport is undergoing an “expansion”, what does this mean?
The word “expansion” or even “extension” leads to negative connotations for some people. It draws a vision that our small community airport will turn into a large commercial operation with constant noise of large jets coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Let me be clear… nothing could be farther from the truth.
For a variety of reasons, that’s just not the future vision for Easton Airport. We have a successful business model in place providing services to our general aviation community. This airport is an enterprise of Talbot County and has been financially self-sustaining since 1993. This is very rare among small airports, especially in today’s economy. Not only is the airport NOT a burden on taxpayers, it generates approximately $48 million in business revenue annually for the local economy!
Does this mean larger aircraft will start using the airport?
Easton Airport’s runways currently have a 100,000 lb. load bearing capacity. This will not change with the relocation of Runway 4/22. Additionally, there will be NO changes to airport taxiways or related infrastructure to accommodate larger aircraft. Simply put, the same aircraft that use the airport today, will continue to use the airport after the improvements. The goal is improved safety, modernization, and efficiency.
Does this mean airlines will start offering regular flights out of Easton Airport?
No, our improvements are safety related and will not change our business model. Our Airport doesn’t have the infrastructure needed to support airline operations. That would require a very costly investment and every time it’s been studied, the economics just don’t make sense.
How many flights currently take off and land daily? How many additional flights will be allowed?
Easton Airport averages 200 operations daily (an operation is an arrival or departure). The runway improvements will have no impact on the traffic forecast, which is somewhat plateaued. Easton Airport does not allow or disallow flights. Much like a highway, the runways are open for public use.
What time of day will flights be allowed to take off and land?
Easton Airport operates 24 hours daily, 365 days a year, although most operations occur between 9am and 7pm.