Montrose Airport First With New Technology

Dec 12th @ 9:14 am in News, Public Service by Scott Staley

Montrose Regional Airport is one of the first in the nation to implement a new air traffic technology which is expected to decrease fuel burn and ensure arrival even during Colorado’s hazardous weather conditions.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has introduced a new surveillance system called Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) which was created to help pilot performance when landing an aircraft in mountainous areas and during severe weather. WAM is a surveillance technology that works by employing multiple small remote sensors throughout an area to compensate for terrain obstructions, and also used for enhancing air traffic surveillance.

“It gives us radar-like coverage in areas that are not covered by radar,” said Michael P. Huerta, FAA Acting Administrator. “With the expansion of Montrose, going into ski season, it gives us some more visibility. This system will allow pilots to fly search and rescue missions in weather conditions that would have previously kept them grounded and it will also support Colorado’s tourism by enabling pilots to land in conditions that previously caused diversions or flight delays.”

Colorado and Alaska are the only states to integrate this new technology. The FAA is partnering with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and launching the new system in phases of smaller mountain airports. WAM was first introduced in the state of Colorado in September 2009 at the Yampa Valley-Hayden, Craig-Moffat, Steamboat Springs and Garfield County Regional-Rifle Airports. Montrose is the first airport in the second phase to fully activate the system.

“The Montrose Regional Airport is a great location for implementing the WAM technology,” said Black Canyon Jet Center’s Customer Service Manager Kenn Kline. “In the long run, the enhanced safety of flight aspect, and the reduction in delays during busy traffic periods are a benefit to our customers, both pilots and passengers.”

When airplanes enter the Montrose area and are below the San Juan peaks, they pass outside of Denver’s air traffic control radar. During inclement weather, these airports are forced to operate on what is called a “one-in-one-out” system because they don’t have their own towers. The remote sensors send signals to aircraft transponders that then transmit the signal back, providing air traffic controllers with an exact location through the process of triangulation.

Black Canyon Jet Center’s General Manager, Ken Watson said, “the 10,000ft runway, no curfews and now the improved surveillance from WAM is just another reason to chose Montrose when flying to Western Colorado. The new technology will make flying to Montrose safer and will also produce more efficient flight paths for travelers eager to get on the nearby world class ski slopes.”

Visitors are coming to the Western Slope of Colorado for business, pleasure and nonprofit purposes. Black Canyon Jet Center manages the fixed-base operations (FBO) for general aviation at the Montrose Regional Airport, providing fuel, aircraft parking and world-class service to residents and visitors alike.  For more information, call 970-249-7111 or visit