TRAVERSE CITY — New airport equipment changes will increase the space where pilots can make landing decisions such as whether to descend onto the runway or circle overhead.
Airports are supposed to keep that area, an imaginary trapezoidal space around the runway called the Runway Protection Zone, clear to keep people safe.
Cherry Capital Airport’s RPZ is expanding as the Federal Aviation Administration installs new equipment. Airport officials could buy the vacant Charter Communications building, located across the runway on South Airport Road, which falls within the expanded zone.
“We have to keep it clear for aircraft to approach into and out of the airport,” said airport Director Kevin Klein.
The Northwestern Regional Airport Commission authorized an engineering firm to approach Charter about purchasing the building. If the airport buys the building, it would be torn down, Klein said.
Klein said airport officials only plan to purchase other buildings in that area as they go up for sale. A handful of buildings next to the Charter building fall in the zone, Klein said.
“We’re not looking to boot anybody out,” Klein said.
New airport equipment guides pilots to land using satellite technology. Previously, pilots were more dependent on visuals to land.
The zone will shift if the airport can’t clear the area.
“If we don’t keep that area clear those decision points are at higher altitudes,” Klein said.