The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is now fully operational after technical malfunctions to the airport’s landing system caused more than 20 fights to be cancelled since April 20.
The frequency crystals in the airport’s Instrument Landing System GlideSlope Transmitter — which helps pilots land in bad weather — broke on March 28, according to a press release from the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Without that equipment, the airport was forced to cancel flights during last week’s foggy weather and Monday’s snow storm.
While the crystals used in the transmitter take four to six weeks to grow, the airport was able to resume normal operations sooner than expected thanks to the assistance of Schumer. Last week, Schumer called on the Federal Aviation Administration to help resolve the issue. Within 48 hours, the FAA located spare crystals at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, which uses the same type of landing system.
“As a result of Sen. Schumer’s involvement and concern –– which brought some pressure to the right places –– we were able to find replacements for the crystals that were malfunctioning,” airport manager Bob Nicholas told The Sun on Tuesday.
The repairs come just in time for the many Cornell students that will use the airport to get home after finals, and for the thousands of parents and family members that will descend on Ithaca for graduation weekend.
“With graduation season right around the corner, I’m very pleased that the FAA heeded the call to prioritize fixing critical navigation equipment at the Ithaca Airport to avoid any further cancelled flights and loss of business opportunity in the region,” Schumer said in the press release.
The replacement crystals were installed on Tuesday, and on Thursday the FAA certified that the system could resume operations.
“I applaud the FAA for so quickly answering my call and putting these repairs at the top of their project list, which will get flights in and out of Ithaca moving again at full capacity at the airport — a huge driver for local business and the local economy,” Schumer said.