Runway review
Extending tarmac for large planes discussed

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Liard (Feb 04/00) - If Acho Dene Koe Holdings (ADKH) has its wish granted, the runway in Fort Liard will grow from 1,500 feet to 3,000-4,500 feet.

"We're looking at the 20-year plan here, so we can bring in larger aircraft and increase our weather capabilities," said Bob Bartlett, manager of Deh Cho Air, a ADKH company. "Obviously the oil industry has to be serviced over the long-term."

Gas plants and other related facilities are possible future developments that would require greater infrastructure, according to Bartlett. Subsequently, the Community Aerodrome Radio Station (CARS), which currently operates from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., would have to increase its hours of operation, he added.

"Liard's going to grow, I believe," he said. "Someday in the next 20 years we could be looking at scheduled airline runs in here, medevacs, that sort of stuff."

A 4,500-foot runway would accommodate even some small jets, Bartlett noted, adding that Fort Simpson's runway is 6,000 feet in length.

Derek Mould, airport manager, acknowledged that a commercial development study is underway by Arctic Airports in Fort Liard. Such a study is done as warranted, he added.

"Priorities are set according to growth," he said. "Because of the added activity in Fort Liard right now, Fort Liard was moved to a priority."

Les Shaw, area superintendent of transportation, noted that members of the community will also be asked for their input on the possibility of a runway extension.

The commercial development study is expected to be completed in July, according to Mould.

Shane Parrish, general manager of ADKH, said the band has also expressed interest in eventually forming a public-private partnership with the GNWT.

"We would like to operate the airport," he said. However, the prospects don't appear promising in the short term because the proposal is caught up in the bureaucratic process, he said.

Shaw wouldn't comment on the potential for a public-private airport venture.