Asheville, N.C., may not have an NFL team, but for RS&H aviation engineers Nick Loder, Mike Blackmore and Eric Rysdon, its airport has become the Super Bowl.
Rysdon, Blackmore, Loder and their team, which includes Janis DeVitto and David Vogt, have worked to complete a series of projects at Asheville Regional Airport over the last five years. They collaborated with the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority to coordinate, manage, and ultimately complete the major airport improvements, entitled Project SOAR.
Now, the final runway project is nearing the goal line.
“I call this last project the Super Bowl as it’s the culmination of a five-year-long effort,” Loder said. “We’ve been re-constructing the previous runway, originally built in the 1950s when the airport was first opened.”
Since that opening over half a century ago, Asheville Regional Airport has become one of the busiest non-hub airports in the country, welcoming several airlines and hundreds of thousands of travelers annually. In 2016, it served an all-time record number of passengers for the airport at a total of 826,648, which was an increase of 5 percent over 2015 and the third consecutive year of record traffic.
To continue to support that growth, as well as meet the most current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements, the airport’s main runway needed extensive re-construction.
“The line of sight down the runway and the runway and taxiway spacing did not meet current standards, and the pavement was past its useful life,” Loder said.
In 2015, the RS&H team led the program and construction management of a temporary runway, which crews switched operations to in one night without any flight interruptions. When the new runway opens in December, the temporary runway will become a large, lighted taxiway.
“We are developing a checklist to ensure the switchover happens seamlessly,” Loder said. “This is our Super Bowl. This is what we’ve trained for and worked hard to get to.”