Enhancement to Navigation Should Improve Performance at Worcester Regional Airport
Worcester -- The Massachusetts Port Authority today announced long planned enhancements to the navigation system at Worcester Regional Airport and Federal Aviation Administration approval of new standards that could reduce delays, diversions and cancellations during low visibility conditions such as fog.
“This is a major milestone for Worcester Regional Airport as it develops into one of the key economic drivers for Central Massachusetts,” said Congressman James McGovern. “As the airport plays a growing role for travelers in and out of Massachusetts, this federally funded infrastructure improvement will increase the reliability of commercial service.”
Runway Visual Range, or RVR, measures how far one can see down a runway and is one of two measurements for operating in reduced visibility. The FAA last week reduced the RVR minimums from 4,000 feet to 1,800 feet as a result of recently completed reductions in potential obstructions. For Jetblue this change would have reduced the number of cancelled and diverted flights since they began service last November.
The reduction of the RVR to 1800 feet at Worcester Regional Airport brings the runway into the standard FAA setting for CAT I criteria. The RVR had been increased because of obstructions such as trees that have been removed, thanks to funding from the FAA and Massport.
Massport began working with the FAA in 2011 to identify and remove trees from the runway approach areas, which ultimately allowed the RVR to be reduced. Reducing the minimums was an interim step in addressing low visibility conditions with the long term goal being the installation of a so called Category III instrument landing system, which allows operations in near zero visibility for RVR and decision height, or the height of the cloud ceiling.
“The changes to the navigation is another important installment in the long-term investment we are making to improve the efficiency and on-time performance of Worcester Regional Airport with the help of Congressman James McGovern and our partners at the FAA,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn.
JetBlue Airways began service at Worcester Airport in November 2013 with daily flights to Orlando and another daily flight to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on 100-seat Embraer 190 aircraft. During one reporting period these destinations were ranked near the top for customer satisfaction, with Fort Lauderdale holding the number one slot and Orlando coming in third out of all the markets they serve.
“This is another important step in maintaining the momentum that began with JetBlue’s arrival to Worcester Regional Airport,” said Tim Murray, President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Since commercial service resumed at Worcester Regional Airport on Nov. 7, the percentage of flights that are operating as scheduled is similar to other smaller New England airports.
“I am pleased that the City of Worcester and Massport are working together in a collaborative fashion with our Federal and State Delegation to ensure the Worcester Regional Airport has the technology it needs to continue on the path to success,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty. “The enhancements to the navigation system will help address weather issues and make Worcester Regional Airport an attractive alternative to residents of Worcester and Central Massachusetts. “
Massport estimates Worcester Regional Airport will generate $369 million of economic activity over the next ten years. Massport commissioned Frasca & Associates, L.L.C. to assess the ten year economic impacts anticipated from new airline service by JetBlue Airways and Massport’s current and future investments in the airport. The study examined the direct and induced aviation-related economic impacts these activities will have to the Central Massachusetts regional economy.
“The latest adjustments made to the Runway Visual Range is yet another example of the team effort put forth by Massport and our State and Federal partners to enhance services at Worcester Regional Airport,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “Worcester Airport is a critical asset for the city, region, and state and these latest improvements enhance that asset.”
At its peak in 1989, Worcester airport served more than 340,000 people and between 2009 and 2012, 250,000 people chose Worcester Airport. Worcester Regional Airport serves Worcester County, the second fastest growing county in Massachusetts, along with the Boston Metro West region and the bustling Interstate 495 corridor.
The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) owns and operates Boston Logan International Airport, public terminals in the Port of Boston, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport. Massport is a financially self-sustaining public authority whose premier transportation facilities generate more than $8 billion annually, and enhance and enable economic growth and vitality in New England. No state tax dollars are used to fund operations or capital improvements at Massport facilities. For more information please visit massport.com.