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Published: Monday, 5/2/2011

Port Authority seeks OK for giant cargo jets

FAA waivers for runway, taxiway requested

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Boeing's 747-8F is bigger than anything ever flown regularly into Toledo Express. But it is quieter than older-model jets. Boeing's 747-8F is bigger than anything ever flown regularly into Toledo Express. But it is quieter than older-model jets.
BOEING Enlarge

The freighter version of the largest aircraft Boeing ever built soon could be calling at Toledo Express Airport.

Inspired by the desire of at least one of the airlines that now flies cargo to and from Toledo to fly the Boeing 747-8F here, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority has applied for Federal Aviation Administration permission to allow them.

Paul Toth, the port authority's president, said allowing the bigger planes will make cargo flights into Toledo more economical, providing a boost to the carriers that fly into the local airport, to the port authority, and to the airport work force.

"Ultimately, it's going to lower the cost for the consumer," Mr. Toth said. "It also means more fuel sold at the airport, more landing fees, and more people to work the planes."

The 747-8F would be bigger than anything ever flown regularly into Express.

But it is quieter than older-model jets that, during the 1990s, aroused widespread noise complaints and lawsuits from property owners near the airport, many of whom the port authority later bought out using federal funds.

"There shouldn't be any new [noise] issues that come up because of this airplane," said Bob Saling, a spokesman for Boeing's cargo aircraft division.

The FAA standards for which the port authority has requested five waivers relate to details of the runway and taxiway layout at Toledo Express.

To fully comply with federal specifications for an airplane as big as the 747-8F, the airport's main runway would have to be 200 feet wide instead of 150 feet, its shoulders would be 40 feet instead of 35, the "blast pad" areas at either end of the runway would be bigger, and safety and object-free zones along certain taxiways would be deeper, Mr. Toth said.

But because the huge airplanes are only expected to fly into Toledo several times per week, full compliance is unlikely to be required, the port president said, noting that three of the five waivers already have been granted.

"If we were going to have more frequent flights, that might require full compliance," he said.

The port authority's application to the FAA noted that Toledo Express has handled flights of the Boeing 747-400 "without incident for several years." The 747-400, until now the largest Boeing freighter, has flown into Toledo under FAA waivers.

The giant airplanes would be allowed to use only the main runway at Toledo Express and certain taxiways connecting that runway with the air cargo ramp on the southwest side of the airfield, near the BAX Global cargo hub.

Atlas Air, which flies twice weekly to Toledo, has ordered 12 of the 747-8F airplanes, and the cargo arm of Emirates Air, also a regular Toledo Express caller, has 15 on order. The plane is now in predelivery testing, with deliveries expected to start this year.

Mr. Toth said he's confident the larger plane would be advantageous for weekly Hong Kong flights that Atlas runs into Toledo. Those flights are "extremely full," he said, but there isn't enough unmet cargo demand to justify adding flights with existing aircraft.

"If you've got more capacity, you have more efficiency with less risk," the port president said. "It's much more expensive to run smaller planes. Economies of scale are critical in air cargo."

Atlas referred interview requests to Mr. Saling, who said the new aircraft will be able to carry 16 percent more cargo while costing the same to fly as a 747-400 because of its newer-technology engines, redesigned wings, and other aerodynamic improvements.

The 747 accounts for half of the world's "pure freighter" capacity, Mr. Saling said, "and this is the newest version of the 747 freighter family."

Information from The Blade's news services was used in this report.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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