Airport upgrades could reduce delays if holiday weather turns ugly

Airport upgrades could reduce delays if holiday weather turns ugly

This year’s holiday travel season marks the first for the Dane County Regional Airport with upgraded technology that allows more planes to land in low-visibility inclement weather.

It’s something that could come in handy with the potential for winter weather in the forecast.

Airport spokesperson Brent McHenry said the airport installed upgrades to its instrument landing system that provide additional information to on-board computer systems, allowing pilots to align planes with the runway during poor visibility conditions.

“We’re going to get planes in that normally would have to cancel or divert to another airport because of weather,” McHenry said. “It sends data to the cockpit of the plane and allows them to use some of the computers aboard the plane to land it in less visibility.”

Only 55 other airports in the country use the Precision Instrument Approach system, McHenry said. Larger airports, like General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, have it in place, but MSN is one of only a handful of small airports using the technology.

Since the roughly $12 million project finished testing and fully rolled out earlier this year, McHenry said the airport has seen good results.

“The equipment works great, the lighting works great, and we have good reports from all our airline partners that things are working the way it should,” he said.

Poor winter weather will serve as a true test of its abilities. McHenry said the airport hopes it makes for safer operations and allows for people to get back home faster.

Visit the airport’s website to check holiday flight statuses.