After we had a chance to speak with residents at the first Flightpath meeting, it was clear that the community has some concerns about what this Airport Master Plan update might entail. Although we are still at the beginning of the process, there are a few things we know won’t happen in this master plan update:
Heber City will not build a control tower. Neither the FAA nor the City are interested in considering an air traffic control tower at Heber Valley Airport. Our airport falls well below the annual operations (aircraft takeoffs and landings) to warrant consideration, and our airport reference code (BII or CII, for example) does not play a role in determining if a tower should be constructed. Additionally, the airport would have to request a tower from the FAA and provide a benefit-cost ratio that justified the installation of a tower, including developing the facility, purchasing the equipment, and hiring personnel. An air traffic control tower would come at an additional cost to the City, and we are not interested in financing one. There won’t be a tower at our airport as a result of this master plan update.
Heber City will not permit commercial airline service. While this Airport Master Plan is likely to outline safety requirements to accommodate the larger general aviation aircraft that are already using the airport, a plane being allowed to land is different than a commercial service airline being allowed to operate. There is much more required from an airport in order to conduct commercial service, starting with the airport seeking a permit and then agreeing to a contract between the airport and an airline. The City is not interested in contemplating commercial airline service, and neither the FAA nor an airline can force us to allow it. You won’t see an airline move into Heber City as a result of this master plan update.
The Airport Master Plan will not move Highway 189. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) owns and operates the state’s highways. UDOT is currently conducting a separate study to look at Highway 189 in our area, and a conclusion is several years away. UDOT is the sole decision-maker on if or where the highway moves, and neither the Airport Master Plan nor the FAA have the authority to move Highway 189.
We are still in the initial stages of the Flightpath master plan update, and know that we cannot answer all of your questions definitively at this time. Research, analysis, and feedback from the community and the FAA will all factor into how our update develops. However, we can make the above statements with confidence because the City’s role in these matters is clear. We will continue to keep you updated and to answer additional questions as the project progresses.