This morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press skewspaper story headlined Destination Unknown and the editorial board’s commentary entitled Press Opinion: Looks like a plane crash from here appeared to us to be clearly slanted toward supporting the recently canned airport manager, Greg Delavan. Speculation abounded in the online comments about why Delavan was cleared for immediate departure.
We don’t know any more than anyone else, however we do have a couple of observations.
The longest runway available at Coeur d’Alene International Dirtstrip (COE) is Runway 6/24 with a length of 7400 feet.
According to the Idaho Airport System Plan, Chapter 3, Facility Requirements, “.. a 9,170 foot runway would accommodate 100 percent of large airplanes at 90 percent of their useful load. A 9,170 foot runway would likely enable large airplanes to reach cities in the continental US from COE without having to stop and refuel enroute. Without sufficient runway length, aircraft have to reduce their load to take-off safely, which is undesirable for aircraft operators.” (See Section 3.2.2 on page 3-6 of the Coeur d’Alene Airport Master Plan July 2012) Note that as used in this section, the term “large airplanes” is one in a class of aircraft weighing 60,000 pounds or less.
We wonder if some aircraft operators who regularly fly their biz jets in-n-out of COE may not be exerting some influence on the Kootenai County BOCC to try and get them to spend public money to enlarge COE for their own convenience? We wonder if any of those aircraft operators have any connections with the Coeur d’Alene Press?
Airport expansion is a touchy issue. Far too often snake oil salesmen tout the huge potential profitability of making small local airports larger or acquiring closed military airfields. The profitability and overall social and economic harm or benefit of such projects on communities demands very careful study based on actual local conditions, not pie-in-the-sky fields of dreams.
We hope that all the interested parties in the region will pay close attention to whatever plans are in the works for COE.