Equipment installed this year at Lawrence's Municipal Airport that will help pilots land in bad weather is expected to be ready by early January.
A $1.58 million Instrument Landing System (ILS), part of several improvements being made at the airport, is in the final testing phase, said Rod Bremby, assistant city manager.
Bremby said the Federal Aviation Administration needs to flight test the system before it can be used at the airport, located northeast of the city on U.S. Highway 24-40.
"The contractor has already flight tested it, and that approval has gone to the FAA for review," Bremby said. "Once the FAA completes its review, they will certify the system."
The FAA then will publish the airport in a directory of airports that are outfitted with ILS, he said.
"Then it will be operational," Bremby said. "We're looking for publication the first part of January."
THE ILS project was funded with a $1.42 million federal grant, with the remainder paid by the city. The equipment will emit special signals to help pilots hone in on the airport in bad weather.
Currently, most aircraft cannot land at the airport if the cloud ceiling is less than about 750 feet. Under the new system, pilots will be able to land when the cloud ceiling is as low as 200 feet.
The system includes several pieces of computerized equipment, runway markers and an approach runway lighting system to assist pilots in making safe landings in less-than-perfect conditions.
OTHER PROJECTS still in the works at the airport are runway and lighting improvments and a 24-hour weather monitoring system, Bremby said.
The runway project, which will probably be completed by mid-spring, covers improvements to both runways and replacement lighting for one of the runways.
Ninety percent of the $524,600 runway improvement and replacement lighting project will be paid by the federal government, with the city paying 10 percent.
The airport has a north-south runway of 3,900 feet by 75 feet and a northwest-southeast runway of 5,000 feet by 100 feet.
Both runways are to be strengthened by sealing cracks. Lighting on the shorter runway is also to be replaced.
Bremby said the FAA recently approved the apparent low bid on the runway project.
"We'll probably proceed with getting the lighting accomplished during the winter and in the spring," he said. The sealing will be done later in the spring, he said.
THE THIRD airport project is a $75,000 to $100,000 Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS), which would provide 24-hour weather information to aircraft and to the National Weather Service. ASOS would allow small commercial planes that require such information to land.
The system would automatically broadcast continuous information on temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and other weather factors.
Crews plan to be begin putting ASOS together in December, and it should be operational by January.
Once the ILS and ASOS are in place and the runways improved, the airport will have up-to-date equipment, he said.
"We wouldn't be short anything," Bremby said. "After the installation of the ILS and the ASOS, I think you'll have a very nice facility out there. I don't think Lawrence would be lacking anthing significant."
Meanwhile, the airport's master plan calls for lengthening the 5,000-foot runway by 500 feet in the next few years.
Such an extention would allow aircraft up to 600,000 pounds with approach speeds of 140 knots or less to land.
Currently, only aircraft with a weight of up to 30,000 pounds with approach speeds of about 120 knots or less can land at the airport.
Bremby said the city doesn't expect to get federal funding for that project during 1993.