The City of Longmont has hired an aviation safety consultant to inspect and analyze the safety and configuration of public use areas at Vance Brand Municipal Airport, including the parachute landing area or drop zone designated for use by skydivers, ultralight aircraft, balloons, and other hobbyists.
Quadrex Aviation, LLC, owned and operated by Florida-based aviation expert David Byers, Ph.D., is conducting a Safety Risk Management Analysis (SRM). The SRM is a process that includes stakeholder engagement, review of current airport uses and regulations, and comparative analysis of similar airports that accommodate recreational users such as skydivers. Prompted by concerns raised by Mile Hi Skydiving, independent skydivers, airport tenants, the Longmont aviation community, residents, and elected officials, the consultant will lend independent and objective expertise to inform possible adjustments to the public use area, as well as any other operational area of the airport for effective, efficient, and safe aviation operations now and for the future.
“This is first and foremost about safety,” Airport Manager David Slayter said. “The analysis is part of a process that will identify any changes we may need to make to ensure the airport operates at the highest level of safety. Under federal law, the airport must accommodate all aeronautical uses, but we also need to take appropriate steps for the safety of airport users and those on the ground.”
The SRM is a common and informative review done routinely by airports across the country. Vance Brand Airport has never conducted this type of analysis in its 70-year history and City officials believe the time has come to conduct this comprehensive review to make the best and safest use of the airport’s 40-acre footprint of public use area. This review will also provide insight for safety recommendations for the airport’s layout, operations, and aircraft mix.
Quadrex has performed similar analyses at other airports that accommodate skydiving and other recreational users and will assist Longmont’s Airport Manager in ensuring that pubic use area designations are fully informed by safety considerations appropriate to skydiving and similar uses.
Quadrex will identify and invite stakeholder representatives, including a selection of airport tenants and operators, to participate in the overall examination in order to fully consider the historical and projected uses of the airport’s public use areas. The review commenced in January 2019 and is expected to conclude by April of this year.
The SRM is not related to concerns about noise produced by aircraft operating at the airport. The SRM consultant is expected to work independently of this issue and will engage the FAA in the overall safety analysis.
The Vance Brand Municipal airport is an important economic driver for the city and the surrounding region. With nearly 15 businesses located the airport, serving the community’s business, travel, and recreational needs, the airport generates a total economic output of $27 million, according to a study by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The airport also provides an important training space for military and firefighting aircraft and can be used as an emergency operation base. The Airport Fund, which receives revenues from airport user fees, funds all airport operations and is the funding source for the engagement of the aviation safety consultant.