Multiple reporters raised a safety concern regarding the recent closure of runway [number].
The reporters state that runway [number] is primarily utilised by commercial general aviation (GA), light RPT, air ambulances and light GA. According to [location] aero club statistics, light GA aircraft are generally operated by pilots with lower than average experience and skill. The reporters advise that runway [number] is the preferred runway for the above operations, as the runway often aligns well with wind when an east coast low influences the weather in [location]. In contrast, runway [number 2], in strong westerlies (the predominant wind), is subject to mechanical turbulence and sink, induced by buildings directly to the west of the southern end of the runway.
The reporters are concerned that the closure of runway [number] for the foreseeable future will result in a pilot with potentially low skill level being overwhelmed by severe turbulence on late final, with a crosswind that exceeds the demonstrated maximum for the aircraft. Given the lack of alternate aerodromes in the region, inexperienced pilots may attempt to land in these conditions as there are no other options available.
On several days in the three weeks prior to the report, westerly winds generated crosswinds that exceeded the tolerances for air ambulance aircraft. While helicopters may have been able to land at [location] hospital, constraints on fixed wing access could have significant health implications for medical emergencies in [region] and [region 2].
While the reporters acknowledge that the current COVID environment has seen a significant reduction in aircraft movements, and the industry more broadly need to reduce operating costs, the reporters are uncertain how the closure of runway [number] would contribute to any cost saving measures.
The reporters are concerned that [Location] airport operator has not considered the safety requirements of non-RPT aircraft in closing runway [number]. They ask if [location] aerodrome operator has weighed any financial loss with community service obligations.
Operator's response (Operator 1)
Runway [number] was reopened on 16 April 2020, the NOTAM was cancelled and GA were advised by phone. [Location] airport took the decision to reopen the runway to facilitate the current opportunity available to advance works more efficiently on the main runway [number 2].