Airport chief urges lights' repair soon

PORTION OF RUNWAY 22 OK'D FOR REGROOVING

HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITERJune 4, 2007 

With fall and winter weather approaching, installation and repair of lights along and down the center of Blue Grass Airport's main runway need to be done as soon as possible, airport executive director Mike Gobb said yesterday.

Centerline in-pavement lights on runway 22 were removed in preparation for the repaving of the runway on the weekend of Aug. 18 and have not been in place since the repaving was completed. The runway's edge lighting system malfunctioned recently, prompting the need for repairs, according to airport officials.

The centerline in-pavement lights on the main runway cannot be installed until all of the runway is re-grooved for drainage, airport spokeswoman Amy Caudill said.

She said that Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the airport to begin re-grooving half of the 7,003-foot runway 22, starting from its southern end near Parkers Mill Road. The work was to have begun last night.

The re-grooving being allowed will not extend to the point where runway 22 intersects with runway 26, the runway that a Comair plane used just before it crashed August 27.

"The airport has only been given permission to re-groove the (southern end of the) runway," she said.

Goodwine granted a temporary restraining order Sept. 14 to prevent the airport from continuing any construction to preserve evidence pertaining to the crash of Comair Flight 5191, which killed 49 people. The judge also set Sept. 27 as the date that attorneys for families of the victims could conduct a runway inspection.

"Out of respect for the families and in compliance with the court, the northern end of the runway will not be altered until after September 27," Caudill said.

On Sept. 11, a regulator that controls edge lights along the main runway malfunctioned, causing the lights to go out for about 40 minutes. Two incoming Delta flights were affected by the outage, Caudill said. Work still needs to be done on those lights, Gobb said.

He said the National Transportation Safety Board has said those lights and lights along the taxiway that Flight 5191 used in taking off were working at the time of the crash.

Gobb talked about the runway lighting issues after the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Airport board's first regular meeting since the crash.

Board chairman Bernard Lovely, after quoting from William Wordsworth's poem The Rainbow, asked for a moment of silence for the crash victims and their families.

"Of course the terrible tragedy is in our minds today and will remain in our minds for the rest of our lives," Lovely said.

After short discussions about the airport's finances and runway work, the board went into closed session for about an hour and a half to discuss possible litigation pertaining to the crash.

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