Massachusetts Airport Opens after Flood

 - March 24, 2010, 10:39 AM

Norwood (Mass.) Memorial Airport, which closed to fixed-wing traffic on March 15 as a result of damage from the Nor’Easter that tore through the Northeast over the March 12 weekend, yesterday reopened to fixed-wing traffic during daylight hours. Situated on the Neponset River flood plain nearly midway between Boston and Providence, the GA airfield, home to nearly 200 aircraft ranging from helicopters to business jets, typically sees about 275 operations a day, and is a reliever airport for Boston Logan International.

“The runways and taxiways were flooded, all but some of the western-most parking aprons and helicopter operating area,” airport manager Russ Maguire told AIN. One pilot reported that his company’s Cessna Citation was “currently stuck there…thankfully on dry land,” while another observer noted that the water level on the ramps rose higher than many of the smaller aircrafts wheels.

“Nobody’s happy with the environmental conditions, but there’s really not a lot anyone can do,” said Maguire during the closure. “We’re just waiting for the waters to recede and then we’re going to have our engineer and the FAA engineer assess the structural integrity of the pavement before we open it up. Obviously we have to do some clean up too.”

As the river swelled to its high mark of 11 feet, two feet above its flood stage, several Notams were issued for the airport, advising not only of the closed airport and standing water on the field but also that guidance lights were out of service. To prevent them from shorting out, the airport officials shut down all electrical systems, including the runway and taxiway edge lighting, the approach lighting system, localizer, precision approach path indicator and voltage regulators. Each of those navigation systems will require inspection from electrical engineers before they are each reenergized.

According to Maguire, the Neponset River, which is currently at the stage just below flood, could once again overspill its borders due to another round of rain, although the impact is not expected to be as severe as the previous round of flooding. The airport experienced its last big flood in June 1998. In that case it was out of action for about 10 days.