New Procedures for Lake Hood Pilots


by Mike Ford

With winter officially here aviators that utilize Lake Hood should take note. In an effort to improve customer service during the winter a change has been implemented by airport management. When they say Lake Hood is closed to air traffic they mean it.

According to airport manager John Parrott, this is a departure from the way things have been done. "We had in the past been trying to impose our judgment on that decision making process by declaring surfaces closed when we didn't know they were safe, Now we've decided to simply announce, advertise and inform pilots of the existing conditions to the best of our ability and leave that decision in their hands, without imposing any judgment"

This decision was made after many meetings where both local and out of town users and air traffic control staff were in attendance.
"We brought the FAA flight standards folks in to let the pilots know, if you take off from a closed surface that you deem as safe will any action be taken against you, and the flight standards folks were able to put that myth to rest" Parrott said.

Now when a pilot checks their Automatic Terminal Information System for any Notice to Airmen alerts they will not receive a closure notice. A closure will be NOTAM'd if there is damage to the landing surface or crews and maintenance equipment are on the runway. Pilots will now receive surface conditions.

"The airport may own the surface of the runways, but the airspace is controlled by the FAA" Parrott explained"It takes a lot of co-ordination between the two to make sure that the procedures both implement end up getting the desired results"

The FAA will not allow you to land at your own risk as before with one exception. If there is six inches of ice or less on the lake surface.

Parrott points out that with digital technology improvements the NOTAM system is slowly improving,but when it comes arrivals and departures "it's always the pilots responsibility to make that decision"

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