Scottsdale Airport looks at plans for stronger runway

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The city of Scottsdale is moving forward with a plan to allow bigger and heavier planes to land at Scottsdale Airpark.

That could mean more high fliers landing in Scottsdale instead of at Sky Harbor International Airport or Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport when they come to the Valley for big events such as the Barrett-Jackson Auction, the Waste Management Open or even next year's Super Bowl in Glendale.

But it could also mean more noise for people who live and work nearby.

"They're saying it's not going to impact our residential values or quality of life and our homes. That's not the truth at all," said Denny Pigneri, one of about 50 Scottsdale residents who showed up Tuesday evening to talk about  what the changes could mean.

"We are in the position to start maintaining our pavement, and we're deciding whether it's a good idea to strengthen it so that we can increase out maximum weight load to 100,000 pounds," said Sarah Ferrara from the Scottsdale Airport. "It's really a good deal because it gives our users another amenity to come to Scottsdale Airport."

The $20 million project to strengthen the runway and taxiways would allow for 100,000-pound planes to land there without reservation. Right now, only 75,000-pound planes can do that.

"It doesn't increase the jet size at all," Ferrara said. "So our aircraft are already coming in. The biggest thing is it allows them to leave fully fueled so they can go to further destinations like China, Russia, international destinations."

But Pigneri worries that more fuel means louder planes.

"I've been around my pool at night, bailing out of my chair because it looks like they're going to land in my backyard they're so low," he said.

But longtime Scottsdale resident Diana Smith supports a stronger runway.

"I think that with the heavier weight limit that we are going to be getting the bigger planes, but those planes are quieter because of the technology that we've all enjoyed and experienced as we fly," she said.

She also believes a stronger runway could make for a stronger economy in Scottsdale.

Grant money would pay for the project if it's approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Construction could begin this summer.