A Federal Aviation Administration Inspector has ruled the Preston Smith Lubbock International Airport out of compliance. This week the City of Lubbock provided a copy of the FAA's inspection report in response to an open records request by KCBD NewsChannel 11.
The report says a periodic safety inspection was done May 15-17, 2012 at the Airport; "The inspection revealed that the airport was not being operated and maintained in compliance with all of the requirements of Federal Aviation Regulation."
The report notes two separate but similar violations. Both pertain to the painted markings on the taxiways such as the centerline marks.
It says, "The paint on the taxiway centerline edge markings, and the enhanced taxiway centerline were found to be thick and chipping causing a foreign object debris hazard. Paint must be physically removed."
Ex. Dir. Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport James Loomis said, "We had a discrepancy that is subjective to an inspector and we're fixing it."
The foreign object hazard means those paint chips could come loose and get sucked into a jet engine. So are people's lives at risk? At least for now, the FAA says no.
"There is no potential hazard of it," said Loomis.
The FAA's letter further explains, "We have given consideration to all available facts and concluded that this matter does not warrant legal action at this time. In lieu of such action, we are issuing this letter of correction, which will be made a matter of record."
An FAA spokesperson says if lives were in danger, then regulators would tell the airport to shut down sections of the pavement that are in violation. That same spokesperson says the city was given 60 days to get it fixed.
In July, the City of Lubbock sent a letter back to the FAA saying it would miss the August 15 deadline for corrections.
Steve Nicholson, Deputy Director of Operations & Safety, wrote, "Even with an aggressive schedule of day and night work, the project is estimated to take a minimum of eight weeks to complete, without any weather/equipment delays factored in."
The cost to hire an outside contractor to bring the airport back into compliance is roughly $400,000. Loomis said the airport has adequate funding for the project and will not seek out any City funds.
Loomis said the project will be complete this September, without any interrupted flights.
LPSIA has three runways. The main north/south runway is 11,500 feet, which is more than two miles long. The second north/south runway is 2,891 feet, which is a little more than half a mile long. And the east/west runway is 8,001 feet which is a little more than 1.5 miles long.
The east/west runway was the subject of a $28 million overhaul in 2011 but it was the runway not the taxiway.
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