Answer

Heber’s Airport has become a popular place for larger jets to land and needs to be safe for all aircraft that are currently coming into the valley. We do not want an accident of any kind at the airport. This is the reason the airport should be brought into compliance with the FAA mandate.

As I understand, we opened the door to the larger jets when the runway was lengthened in 2003 and although the traffic did not exist then to be a C2 airport, the traffic is here now. Heber City Airport needs to come into compliance with safety for the airplanes that are currently using the public airport due to the federal monies received over the years.

Some people have made an argument citing the following lines from the FAA rulebook:

“In some cases, the airport sponsor may decide that it is in the community’s best interest for the airport not to continue to grow to accommodate forecast activity, or to accommodate forecast activity only up to a point. In these cases, the master plan should document this decision and indicate the probable consequences of the decision (e.g., demand will be capped, the demand will go unmet, or the demand will be diverted to another airport).” – 150/5070-6B, Airport Master Plans. Chapter 8 801.a

The FAA responded:

“The language quoted from the AC [Advisory Circular] is geared toward capacity improvements for unmet demand, primarily at commercial service airports. In the case of HCR [Heber Valley Airport], we have not identified any unmet demand or aircraft operators that are wanting to use HCR but currently cannot. Through the forecast chapter and conversations with T-O [Engineers; the project manager] the current operations and future forecasted operations are unconstrained at HCR and would not see any increase in larger than C-II traffic once an ARC [Airport Reference Code] change is complete.

The current situation at the airport is that the facility does not meet standards for the existing fleet of users and critical aircraft. You can refer the the Heber Valley Flight Path website for more information:
https://hebervalleyflightpath.com/why-heber-city-cant-prevent-specific-planes-from-using-the-airport/.

The paragraph referenced in the facility requirements chapter of the Master Plan Advisory Circular does not relieve HCR from the requirement to meet FAA Design Standards.

The forecast does not show the need for going above C2, nor are we close to that. The forecast was completed using unconstrained conditions so there is no reason to believe that by changing the ARC to C2 that there will be an automatic increase in larger traffic. Heber Valley Airport cannot legally limit or restrict operations of the aircraft that are larger than C-II, however it is under no obligation to provide facilities that would attract or encourage growth (i.e., stronger or longer runway). At this point the FAA sees no need to plan for anything larger than a C2 facility. Our position has been that current and forecasted users of this facility are entitled to and should receive the same level of safety standards and considerations that they get at any FAA obligated airport across the country.”

Heber is not looking to strengthen or extend the runway which would invite larger planes. I believe the response to the question by the FAA clearly states what needs to be done and what is not being done. As a member of the City Council I would encourage a safe facility but never encourage or take measures to generate growth.