Aviation News

September 19, 2014

A Runway Dream Comes True in Fort Lauderdale

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Written by: Mark Lawrence
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When the Broward County Commission voted 6-3 in favor of the new runway at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in June 2007, I’m sure they wondered what the final result would look like in reality and when that final product would be FLLOpening-012completed.  Over seven years and $826 million later, the vision is finally complete and the new 8,000’ runway — 10R/28L under construction for a total of 33 months — was finally ready to accept traffic and, most importantly to all involved, was completed on time and on budget.   NYCAviation previously reported on the building of the new runway when it initially began as well as during the construction process.

The seven years of planning and construction that have gone on at the airport have had both detractors and supporters and there have been many debates on issues over the past few years. For example, residents of the Dania Beach suburb of Fort Lauderdale were very against the project when, while the main runway 10L/28R was closed for the addition of high-speed runway exits, all traffic used the now closed 12/30 runway and headed over their homes.  There has been much ado made about the additional noise that will affect 1,700+ homes on the south side of the airport; curfew procedures will be implemented between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am to alleviate these issues.

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport has over the past few years become one of the fastest growing airports in the United States.  This growth has created congestion issues that would have created delay problems unacceptable to both travelers and airport management. The addition of the new runway will now allow for the airport to no longer be concerned with these congestion issues.  A measure of this growth is evident in the fact that in 2013, while still a single runway airport, 23.5 million passengers passed through its terminals making it the 21st ranked airport in the United Statues in total passenger traffic.  The addition of the new runway will allow the airport to handle in excess of 400,000 takeoffs and landings per year.

FLLOpening-002There have been some significant construction milestones associated with the runway construction as well, such as the 12 bridges of the existing U.S 1 highway and airport perimeter road and rail tracks that have given the new runway its elevated stature, now rising 65 feet into the air at the eastern side of the runway.  Another notable milestone was the demolition of the Hilton Airport Hotel in a matter of months without the use of explosives to make way for the free zone required by the FAA at the end of the runway.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 was designated as the official day on which the runway would open for service.  It was also determined that the first aircraft to land on the new runway would be JetBlue flight 1028 (for the magnetic designation of the runway), an Airbus A320 registration N709JB (FlyFi) charter flight originating in Fort Lauderdale.  Seats on the flight were sold to benefit the United Way, and those customers, along with local dignitaries, members of JetBlue management and local media boarded the aircraft in plenty of time for the 9:15 am departure.  Under the command of JetBlue Fort Lauderdale Chief Pilot Randy Forester and First Officer Scott Morgan, the aircraft departed the terminal and made the taxi out to the current runway, 10L and took off for the short 20 minute flight around Fort Lauderdale before setting up for a visual approach and landing on the new runway 10R.  A water cannon salute greeted the flight as it

(Photo by John Magero)

(Photo by John Magero)

taxied back down the runway to the point where the official opening festivities were help.  The passengers aboard the flight deplaned and joined the other invited guests who were addressed by Broward County Aviation Department Director Kent George, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Barbara Sharief, US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and JetBlue VP of Government & Airport Affairs Jeffrey Goodell amongst others.

A lighter moment during the addresses occurred when Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz was noting the importance of the new runway to decrease traffic congestion at the airport and in the background, a United flight was forced to make a go-around due to traffic on the runway. Following the addresses, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Sharief, the Broward County Commissioners and invited guests took station under the wing of the JetBlue Airbus for the formal ribbon cutting ceremony and the runway was declared officially open.

The first scheduled commercial flight to use the runway was later in the day at 2:40pm when JetBlue flight 506 departed to Newark, New Jersey.



About the Author

Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence is a NYCAviation staff member and a south Florida-based aviation fanatic. He has been around the industry since he was a small boy. Mark can be reached at [email protected]




 
 

 

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