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.

April Ehrlich covers Douglas County city halls for The News-Review. Follow her on Twitter @AprilEhrlich.

(14) comments

Mogie
Mogie

OMG the interview for this article was conducted over the phone? Weren't there questions asked for verification purposes? April (the News Review reporter who wrote this) this article is VERY confusing. Please write so people can easily understand your written word. The article should clearly convey the message not require person after person asking more questions in order to clear things up.

kbogan
kbogan

The headline is misleading. The FAA has closed nighttime IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) approaches into the airport. The runway is still open to anyone flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules) at night, including air ambulance operations. The headlines needs to read "Mt. Nebo prevents aircraft from performing nighttime instrument approaches." Please don't be click-baity.

AEhrlich
AEhrlich

Hi kbogan, thank you for your comment. Both the airport manager Robert Levin and vice president of Cal-Ore Life Flight and REACH Air Medical Services, Dan Brattain, said the airport is closed at night and not accessible to Life Flight or to other pilots. Thank you for reading. - April

kbogan
kbogan

You may be misunderstanding what they told you. The NOTAMs list the VASI system inoperative and the instrument approach unavailable at night, but makes no mention of an airport closure.

Westernoregonaviation
Westernoregonaviation

April you misunderstood what I said on the phone the airport is very much open at night only the instrument approach at nighttime is closed. The VASI lights are helpful but not required and have nothing to do with the instrument approach.

AEhrlich
AEhrlich

Rob, you are right. Thank you for calling me today and clarifying. I misunderstood. - April

Mogie
Mogie

Does life flight tell their customers that they don't offer night time service?

AEhrlich
AEhrlich

They still offer Life Flight services, they just can't use them through the Roseburg Municipal Airport. - April

Smazzin
Smazzin

Jesus Christ, Mogie

Mogie
Mogie

Years ago I went to the airport to meet someone whose flight came in at night. Yet in the article is states that no flights come in at night. I have heard a lot of planes flying over my house at night also.

AEhrlich
AEhrlich

The airport is only closed at night and this just began last year. Thank you for reading. - April

just me
just me

dont get sick at nite

Mogie
Mogie

Why do air ambulances need more landing or taking off room then regular planes? What about helicopters? Can't they do basically the same thing?

AEhrlich
AEhrlich

They have to use a nighttime visual instrument that helps them land at night. That instrument has been shut down since the FAA said the city needs to mitigate the runway obstruction. Thank you for reading. - April

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