Runway Condition Reports

Effective October 1, airports are required to report runway conditions using a new scale.  To date, runway conditions have been reported as good, fair, poor, or nil.  From now on, however, they’ll be reported using a Runway Condition Code (RwyCC), and fair has been replaced with medium.

Here’s how GA pilots can convert the RwyCC to something more familiar…

RwyCC Braking Action
6 (uncontaminated)
5 Good
4 Good to Medium
3 Medium
2 Medium to Poor
1 Poor
0 Nil

The RwyCC is reported via a Field Conditions (FICON) NOTAM for each third of the runway.  For example, 5/4/5 means the first third of the runway is Good, the middle third is Good to Medium, and the final third is Good.

Airport operators have a Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) that they use to determine which RwyCC to report. Airline pilots have their own version of RCAM which tells them whether or not they can land based on each code. Life is simpler for GA pilots; we just need the table above and our common sense.

Another change that comes with this is that if the braking action is nil, the airport must close the runway. They must also temporarily close the runway each time they assess the condition, because they need to drive along the runway with their sensors.

You can see the airport operator’s RCAM and some additional information on the FAA website.

So be on the lookout for temporary runway closure NOTAMS and FICON NOTAMS this winter during inclement weather.

Meet our members

Larry1999 was a banner year for Larry when one of his son’s, his wife, and he, got their pilots licenses.

It was twenty five years earlier when Larry began taking lessons in Indiana from a neighbor who was a flight instructor. Just before Larry soloed, his neighbor sold his plane.

Larry spent a year and a half teaching high school biology. He was also the assistant wrestling coach. At one of the meets, an old friend was refereeing. He got reacquainted with him. He was the District Manager with State Farm and got Larry hooked up with State Farm. He found he was more interested in the commercial side of insurance which State Farm really didn’t have. After four and a half years he left and went to work for Meridian Mutual Insurance out of Indianapolis.

He eventually bought into a small insurance agency but when Connie became pregnant with Aaron she decided she wanted to quit her job as a Special Education teacher and be a stay at home mom. He knew he needed to make more money than the small agency could afford him so he went to work for Hawkeye Insurance Company where is was promoted to Regional Sales Manager.

He worked his way up eventually becoming the Assistant Vice President. He then got into Team Training which was big in the 80’s. He did that for several years becoming the V. P. of Human Resources in charge of training.

During that time the company merged several times. One of those mergers put him in Boston at the time of 9 – 11.

Even though he made it through seven separate mergers during his time in the land of insurance companies, he eventually got cut.

He went back to teaching as a substitute when a friend called him and told him there was a job in Fort Collins at Community First National Bank, now Bank of the West.

It didn’t take long for them to find out about the FNL Pilots Association where they instantly became members. It was at one of the monthly meetings that Larry volunteered to be on the Board where he has served for two years.

Although both he and Connie are currently not flying, they are looking to get back into it and participate in the pancake breakfasts and the $100.00 hamburgers soon.


Jason Licon Update from the August BBQ

It’s time for the airport badge audit. The airport is required to audit them every 12 months, and every 24 month they actually rebadge. Emails have been going out to let everyone know it is time and that you can stop by the fire station and show your badge. You must present your badge for audit by September 30.  The audited badges will be good until October 2017.

The new FAA policy on hangers has been released.  Each hangar must contain at least an airworthy aircraft or an aircraft actively being built or repaired. If a qualifying aircraft is present, then the hangar may also contain other items.  The policy applies to both publicly and privately owned hangars.  FNL plans to be in compliance by July 2017. So the airport will be reaching out to you to verify that there is an aircraft or a project associated with each hangar. If it’s a project aircraft you need to provide occasional picture updates to show progress. Because FNL is a federally supported airport, if we do not comply we will lose our funding. Around 70% of our funding comes from the FAA and that goes for runways, taxiways, lights, nav aids, and everything associated with that. So all of you that have boats or RVs without planes will no longer be approved.

Elite Airways is still flying scheduled service out of here. They just extended their schedule through October 31st. They are still going into Rockford and we are still talking with them about other locations, hopefully someplace warm or someplace fun in the winter.

Also, you might hear airport operations talking on Unicom frequency when Elite Airways is coming in and out. We did have an incident a few weeks ago with a local plane that cut off the airline on final so we are working with the airline to assure them so they will continue to operate out of here as the economic benefits are tremendous.  Please be courteous to Elite Airways and give them space when they’re coming in on final.

There is a new giant garage next to the fire station that will be the airport’s snow removal equipment building as well as some of the lawn care stuff. Twelve different locations will be combined into one space which will free up some hangar space. This will vacate a box hangar near Trans Arrow that is 42 x 50 hangar. The bid request has gone out, and bids must be received by September 29. If you’re interested, contact airport staff at the fire station.

With the last FAA reauthorization bill signed into law last month, our airport won the FAA lottery, which means that we were able to obtain a $1,000,000 grant for 2017 for airport capital improvement projects. Because the qualifications are so weird, FNL is actually the only airport in Colorado that is qualified. So they plan to move a lot of 2018 work into 2017, including preservation to the runways, taxiways, and ramp, and hopefully will bring that into the hanger area. The airport staff would like to partner with hangar groups in order to maximize the effectiveness of the project. Hopefully next summer. Right now the cost of sealcoat is $1.00 – $1.50 a square yard.

As you know our name has been changed to Northern Colorado Regional Airport. Jason has submitted an application to the FAA so they can begin to change the charts which is a very long process. Jeffco changed it’s name to Rocky Mountain Metro ten years ago and we are going through the same process. We will probably hear Ft. Collins – Loveland or Fort Love or other variations on the radio for about 25 more years. Changing the charts is about a six month process so we are hopeful that about the first of the year we can make it official and encourage everyone to use “Noco Traffic” when you’re in the pattern. We will email everyone when the time comes.  For now continue to use our legacy name on the radio.

The remote tower project has been handed over to the FAA NextGen division. The NextGen division is  running the show and CDOT is funding the project. Currently they are working on obtaining a vendor. What that means is finding a company that has the technology and the understanding of how to implement that technology that is able to pull off what the state and the FAA have envisioned for what a remote tower will be. So instead of just cameras they want to put together a system that is track based which is essentially a radar screen in front of a controller (who could be located remotely) in able to monitor aircraft that are coming and going at our airport, and then supplement that with cameras. Right now there is one other airport, Leesburg, Virginia, that has an all camera based system but it is not FAA sanctioned. The FAA is watching but doesn’t believe that the system will be able to work everywhere and they think the system they are putting in here will be reproducible. The timeline has been pushed out about six months since our last update, to December 2018. They are looking at November 2016 to be able to select the vendor. Hopefully by this time next year there will be some things installed. The idea is to put up an antenna type tower midfield which will have a radar on top and then some cameras, as well as a camera at each end of the run way. Then a cable to a to-be-determined location to where we will have a controller. If you would like to look at any of the details it is on the airport website.

There was language in the proposed FAA refunding bill allowing the FAA to include our remote tower in the Contract Tower Program, but it was stripped from the short-term reauthorization bill that finally passed.  If we have to pay for the controllers, it will cost the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland about $600,000 per year for staffing. So if anyone here has the ear of your Congressman or Senator, Jason would love to discuss the details with you so you can lobby Congress to restore that part of the FAA bill next time around.

View from the right seat

We don’t think much about it, the change from Fort Collins – Loveland Airport to Northern Colorado Reginal Airport. Fifty years from now the conversation will be something like this.

“FNL? Why is NoCo call letters FNL?” The same way we question why Los Angeles is LAX? Or Chicago O’Hare, ORD?

Years ago when the Wright brothers started this whole crazy thing we now know as aviation, there was no need for airport identification. It was just the best open field available.

In the 1930’s the field exploded and as a way to identify the cities that had airports, it was decided to follow the National Weather Service who had already begun to assign a two letter code to those cities that reported weather. Eventually the cities with airports outnumbered those reporting the weather. With the growing number of airports, the decision was made to add a third letter. Those that were already in existence just added an X. That explains how LAX was born. And Portland became PDX and Phoenix is PHX. The exception to that was SFO who requested to add an O instead of the traditional X.

The Military claimed the letters N and A for their codes. Radio stations were assigned either the letter W or K depending on which side of the Mississippi they were. W was east and K was west. The radio call letters all stemmed from telegrams. In 1912 several countries attended a conference centered on “International Radiotelegraphs”. One of the biggest things to come out of that meeting was to assign certain letters to certain countries. America was given W, K, N, and A. Canada got C and Mexico got X.

So how did some of the names come to be? ORD was Orchard, so named for the military airport named Orchard Field. In 1949 it was officially changed to O’Hare for WWII ace Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare. Orlando is MCO for McCoy Air Force Base.

New Orleans is MSY for Moisant Stock Yards. Kitty Hawk is FFA for First Flight Airport.

Kahului in Maui is OGG , named for Hawaiian Airlines Capt. Bertram James Hogg.

A few are from history. Knoxville, Tennessee is TYS. That comes from the donation of land for an airport from the Tyson family who lost a son in WWI.

The one airport that has tried to change its call letters is Sioux City’s Gateway Airport. Their call letters are SUX. They have tried with no luck to change the letters since 1998. They finally gave up and now embrace the call letters. You can buy hats, cups, shirts and the like all promoting their new tag line…FLY SUX.

Makes FNL sound a bit more sane doesn’t it.