Airfield Vision

Safety standards in 2023 are different from the standards 20 years ago. ROA currently operates, with FAA approval, under standards and facility requirements that have changed. These need to be updated especially those associated with runways and taxiways. The Master Plan evaluates how we can enhance and preserve safety and security of these facilities to meet the latest standards set by the FAA. To do so, improvements need to be made to the airport’s runways, taxiways and other airfield facilities, equipment and systems – sort of like new safety enhancements that are now provided with newer vehicles compared with their earlier models.

Research has explored nearly 20 options to improve both runways 6-24 (East-West) and 16-34 (North-South). This image shows Runway 6-24, the runway most used at our airport and some of the issues that need to be addressed. Our plan addresses:

  • FAA Compliance: Our priority is to make sure that all airport facilities including the airfield comply with the FAA’s current standards and regulations. Our airfield facilities are safe, though studies show that there’s room for enhancements that will provide more efficient aircraft operations.

  • Full Runway Safety Areas (RSAs): Our runways are very safe, and we need them to stay that way. The FAA has determined the need for runways to include an area surrounding them with a suitable surface for reducing the risk of damage to aircraft in the event that they overshoot, undershoot or veer off the runway. This area is defined as the Runway Safety Area, or RSA.

    Based on studies, ROA has determined that it needs to enhance the RSAs for Runway 6-24 based on the latest FAA guidance. The RSA for Runway 16-34 has already been enhanced and does not need further improvements.

    These RSA improvements will also allow the airport to extend Runway 6-24 in the future when needed.

  • Runway over I-581: In order for the airport to have a full RSA on Runway 6-24, the best possible option is to create an overpass over I-581.

    Seven different alternatives were considered that would provide a solution; the option shown here meets important criteria:

    • This option would minimally disrupt neighborhoods, business, or the environment. Extending the RSA in any other direction creates serious and concerning impacts including:
      • Removal of major business corridors, neighborhoods, or schools
      • Environmental impacts to local waterways
      • Costly land development to address complicated terrain barriers.
      • Limitations for future runway extension options
    • This option is as cost-effective as possible to be good stewards of federal and state funds.
      • The airport already owns most of the land needed on the other side of 581.

    Going over an interstate is not an uncommon practice. There are many examples throughout the country of airports that have done this. We know that additional aircraft noise over our communities could be one concern that might be raised when we reach this juncture, but we anticipate that aircraft noise will actually be the same or even less than what it is now because aircraft are being designed to be quieter.

    In addition to meeting current safety standards, crossing I-581 also creates the future opportunity to lengthen our primary runway to accommodate larger aircraft as airlines increasingly shift away from small regional jets and serve more distant destinations.