Purchase photos

SkyWest cleared for services at Hays Regional Airport

4/20/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

SkyWest Airlines is poised for a smooth landing at Hays Regional Airport after an ongoing environmental assessment tentatively has concluded there would be no significant impact from changing carriers.

City staff and its consultant hosted a public information meeting Friday to explain the findings. Federal regulations dictate the city must conduct the assessment because the airport is transitioning from turboprop to turbojet service. The process looks at factors associated with noise, the environment and wildlife. It was determined the larger plane would not be a sound nuisance, according to the report.

"No noise sensitive sites would experience a significant noise impact as a result of the proposed action," stated an excerpt from the study's report.

C. Edward Young, senior program manager with the consultant Jviation Inc., said the new jet service's noise would be "almost indistinguishable" from Great Lakes Airlines. The former carrier's older planes used engines with outdated sound reduction technology, he said.

Jviation staff asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if there would be any consequences for the lesser prairie chicken or the whooping crane, and the agency replied no comment. The answer equates to a stamp of approval, Young said.

The study is expected to conclude mid-June.

Darrell Seibel, Hays, attended the meeting and said his experience as a pilot suggests the new service will not cause any problems. Migratory birds do not stop in Hays because of the lack of standing water, he said.

"In my opinion, there are no animals or birds that will be impacted, because I'm a pilot," Seibel said. "I've flown all through since the mid-60s, and I can tell you we've never had rabbits and birds and stuff to affect us at all."

Seibel said he hopes the assessment will be finished soon so service can resume at the airport.