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Safety Risk Management Analysis of Vance Brand Airport in Final Stages
Prompted by safety concerns raised by Mile Hi Skydiving, independent skydivers, airport tenants, the Longmont aviation community, residents, and elected officials, the City of Longmont requested a safety review from the FAA. Because such a review could be delayed by up to two years, the City engaged Quadrex in order to address any significant safety matters promptly and with minimal disruption to airport operations.
“We appreciate the expertise and thoroughness Quadrex has demonstrated in its analysis so far, and we are grateful to all the members of the airport community who have given their time and shared their insights and concerns,” said Airport Manager David Slayter. “We believe this process and the recommendations in the final report will foster a safer airport operating environment for all users and neighbors.”
The analysis relied on observations of airport operations, interviews with airport stakeholders, and comparisons of existing conditions to safety factors considered by the FAA and other similar airports. The final component of the analysis is a meeting with a broader airport stakeholder group, seeking input relating to the draft report, and coordination with Mile-Hi to improve Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Mile Hi Skydiving and representatives of the U.S. Parachute Association are invited to participate in this final phase as well, and Mile Hi has agreed to meet with Quadrex and City officials to discuss the preliminary findings.
Summary of Findings & Recommendations
1. Current skydiving operations at the Vance Brand airport (KLMO) are not critically unsafe, but steps should be taken to increase the margin of safety of operations for skydivers and other airport users, in particular novice skydivers and pilots, and those unfamiliar with skydiving operations within an airport environment.
2. Key recommendations for improving safety at KLMO include:
a. Consider one of three options provided in report for relocating skydiver landing zone
b. Update and expand SOPs for skydiving to include the following items:
i. Ensure jump plane makes routine announcements on airport radio frequency
ii. Brief skydivers and ensure they acknowledge and understand relevant SOPs and approaches to the parachute landing zone(s)
iii. Report all off-site landings
iv. Publicly post SOPs accessibly for all airport users
c. Discontinue operations within the airport’s designated Object Free Areas, such as boarding skydivers at current loading zone as it encroaches on the Object Free Area adjacent to Taxiway B
d. Relocate fuel truck parked near Taxiway A to designated aircraft refueling area
Several of these recommendations are best practices promoted by the United States Parachute Association, and require Mile Hi Skydiving’s agreement to institute and follow.
“The City is committed to having a safe and economically robust airport that is a good neighbor to all Longmont residents, and we invite all airport users to join in this commitment,” said Harold Dominguez, Longmont City Manager. “We will promptly implement the safety recommendations from this report that are within our purview so we can ensure our community’s airport is safe now and into future.”
A final report incorporating stakeholder feedback is expected to be released by the end of May.