Flight diverted to Toledo after problem at regional airport
March 10, 2011 – By RAYMOND L. SMITH Tribune Chronicle
VIENNA – Trev Tessmer arrived at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport about 9:45 a.m. Wednesday for an Allegiant Air flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., that was scheduled to leave at 11 a.m.
“We wanted to get here early to have a relaxing breakfast before our flight,” said the Wadsworth resident.
It turned out being early was not going to be a problem.
A device that helps guide pilots onto runways during inclement weather had been inoperable since Sunday, according to Dan Dickten, aviation manager of the airport. Federal Aviation Administration technicians had been at the airport for several days trying to find out what was causing the problem.
“We were not told they were still here,” Dickten said of the technicians. “If we had been told, we could have talked to Allegiant Air and made alternative arrangements earlier.”
A musician with a gig scheduled for Wednesday evening in Florida, Tessmer said the passengers initially were told there was a weather problem that was delaying the arrival of their plane.
It was about 11:30 a.m. when the passengers were told their plane was diverted to Toledo and they would be taking a bus to catch it. They left the airport a couple hours later for the estimated three hour drive to the northwest Ohio airport.
“I’m going to be late for my gig,” Tessmer said later while enroute to Toledo. “But I’m not going to allow this to mess up my time. I’m going to have fun.”
Meanwhile, those who were flying into Vienna from Florida on Wednesday morning had to wait in Toledo for the bus to pick them up, so they could be driven back to the Trumbull County airport.
Dickten said flights could not land because a device called a localizer that guides pilots onto the runway was broken.
“The instrument landing system belongs to and is maintained by the FAA,” Dickten said. “FAA navigational aid technicians have been working on finding out what has been causing the malfunction since Sunday.”
Dickten said airport officials were not told the FAA officials were still at the airport until right before the Allegiant Air flight was supposed to arrive.
“This was the first day since the localizer had gone down that we’ve had weather conditions that required the use of the it,” Dickten said.
Instrument landing systems are used when there is less than 1,000-foot cloud ceiling and less than two miles of visibility.
He emphasized the delays were not caused by anything Allegiant or the airport had done.
“Something broke and it took the FAA longer to fix it than anyone expected,” he said. “They had to replace antennas, cables and other items. It took time to eliminate problems.”
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