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Misperception #4: The Airport Can't Land "Big" Airplanes

Apr 29 2010

"The airport is too small to land "big" airplanes!"

I got a renewed taste of this charge a couple of weeks ago while doing a call-in radio talk show. Fellow called in and said the airport should build new runways so big airplanes could land in Springfield.

For the record, the runways at this airport are long enough to land any airplane under certain conditions. Runway 14/32 is 8000 feet long and runway 2/20 is 7000 feet. These runways are long enough to handle any plane under typical flight conditions for this airport. Let me explain...

The need for 10,000+ foot runways is generally driven by international flights on wide-body commercial jets (like the Boeing 747). Those flights are typically fully loaded with passengers, baggage and filled-to-the-brim fuel tanks. With all that weight they need 10,000+ feet to take-off. The same airplane, on a domestic route, wouldn't be nearly as heavy and could easily use our runways.

I think the only airplane we've ever been concerned about is the Antonov An-225. It's the largest plane in the world. Built in the Ukraine in the late 1980's, it's used to haul cargo. A couple of years ago there was talk that the Antonov would ferry Army helicopters to the repair depot in Springfield. A fully loaded Antonov would find 8,000 feet a bit spare! Apparently plans changed because the Antonov never showed up.

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