For the third year in a row the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) has received a ‘discrepancy-free’ inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration. During the two-day-long inspection veteran FAA Safety and Standards inspector, Lynn Deardorff checked the airfield, tested and graded aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) capabilities, fuel dispensing facilities, equipment inspection records, all aspects of commercial airport services including facilities maintenance, runway lighting, markings, snow removal procedures, and airport staff training, among other things.
“This is a big deal for our airport or any commercial service airport nationally. These inspections are intense and very thorough. They take a tremendous amount of preparation and day to day commitment and effort on the part of airport operations and facilities staff,” said Airport Director, John Kinney. “Lynn is a seasoned vet with the FAA and she has the reputation of being very thorough and tough. High marks from her mean a lot,” Kinney said.
It is an annual FAA requirement that the airport demonstrate its historical and future ability to meet and or exceed rigid safety standards every single day. Dubbed the “Part 139 Program,” it requires a facility to be operated ‘uniquely and to a high degree of preparedness, response, recovery, development, maintenance and emergency response to manmade or natural and acts of terrorism.’
“One of the things we’re graded on is the condition of our runway and runway snow removal,” said Kinney. “Snow removal standards on a runway are considerably tougher than on a roadway or highway. Aircraft are landing at speeds in excess of 130 MPH, hitting snow and ice, a pothole, depression or protrusion is not an option we can afford to have to safely accommodate the high tech, high speeds of aircraft operations during taking off and landing,” he said.
The Aspen Airport is one of two airports to ever receive zero-discrepancy ratings in FAA Inspector Deardorff's 28-year career.
“I've worked in airports of all sizes for over three decades, this is a unique and impressive accomplishment,” Kinney said. Under the leadership of Assistant Aviation Director of Operations and Facilities, Dustin Havel, we have a unique and very capable team that brought this ‘trophy of airport excellence in safety’ home once again to Aspen Airport.”