Nighttime flyers and airport ambulances are still barred from using the Roseburg Municipal Airport at night as the city irons out ways to fix Mount Nebo runway obstructions.
City staff originally planned to spend $100,000 on the mitigation project. Further studies have bumped that price tag up to $300,000. Roseburg City Council voted unanimously to adopt the project’s new budget.
Federal regulators say Mt. Nebo is obstructing the runway, a conclusion they reached following a flight check inspection early last year. The city subsequently shut down its nighttime instrument approach.
Without that device, pilots rely on their naked eye to land properly. Darkness prevents them from landing by visual approach.
“We’ve definitely turned flights down because of the inability to get in there on instrument conditions at night,” said Dan Brattain, vice president of Cal-Ore Life Flight and REACH Air Medical Services.
“When I say big impact, it may not be big in numbers, but if you’re the patient, that’s a pretty big impact.”
Life flight services provided by helicopters can use the landing pad at Mercy Medical Center, but sometimes they need the Roseburg airport as well, he said. For instance, life flight services used the Roseburg airport to transport a large number of patients following the mass shooting at UCC in 2015.
Although the hill and the runway have remained firmly in place for years, the Federal Aviation Administration has made some changes to its rules and regulations. The new rules say parts of the 1,200-foot hill are too close to the runway.
To fix the issue, the city will add lighting to the hill, smooth out irregular terrain, and possibly remove some trees.
The administration also asked that the airport modify its visual approach slope indicator, a set of lights that guide pilots into the proper slope when landing. The airport had shut down its slope indicator in July. It has not been turned back on.
The costs of modifying the slope indicator is included in the Mt. Nebo mitigation project.