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Runway closure announced at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station
Just days after announcing the closure of Outlying Field Coupeville’s runway till the end of the calendar year, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station said this week another runway closure will be closed temporarily.
From Aug. 5 to Sept. 20, Ault Field at NAS Whidbey will have only one operational runway for flight operations, according to a press release issued by the base.
NAS Whidbey Public Affairs Officer Mike Welding said the closure of Runway 14 will have only minor impacts on scheduling and operations.
Pilot training should not be impacted, he said.
“Typically, the base uses one runway at a time at Ault Field,” Welding said. “The runway that does get used is based on winds. This type of work is scheduled during periods when winds are lightest, thereby minimizing potential impacts.”
The runway at Ault Field will close for the installation of a new arresting gear system, restricting aircraft to northeast or southwest take off and landing headings, according to a news release.
Navy officials also said that the approaches will potentially cause more frequent use of the operational runway with increased traffic over western Skagit County, Mount Vernon, La Conner, northern Island County and Lopez Island.
The arresting gear system doesn’t replace the arresting gear, Welding said.
“The current system uses rubber donuts that suspend the wire over the runway,” Welding said. “The new system will feature a pneumatic actuator that will raise and lower the gear cable on command from the Air Traffic Control Tower. This will result in fewer arresting gear system malfunctions as there will be fewer incidents of heavy aircraft landing on the cable.”
The Ault Field closure comes on the heels of the Navy’s announcement that it suspended field carrier landing practice operations at OLF Coupeville until the end of the calendar year. Operations will still be conducted at Ault Field, which could impact take off and landing schedules there.
Welding said the Navy has been working on replacing the arresting system for several years, and that the closure is unrelated to the OLF closure.
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