Fog Diverts Plane from Local Airport

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WEST BAY - Heavy fog is effecting our local airports.

Northwest Florida Regional Airport turned away one of it's Sunday flights.

Of the 13,738 airline flights scheduled for Northwest Florida Beaches International last year, only 2 were diverted due to bad weather.

"It's not an overwhelming number of times, there's certain times of the year that fog is more prevalent and that is this time of year," said Parker McClellan, ECP Executive Director.

There is equipment available that would make it easier and safer for jets to land in bad weather.

McClellan said, "We are looking at that now as part of out master plan process underway which is upgrading our instrument approaches."

The FAA is considering a local request for some equipment that will give pilots more time on their final approach to decide if that can safely land, or if they need to pull-up and go around.

That equipment would make Northwest Florida Beaches International a Category 2 facility.

If the FAA does not approve the request, McClellan says the board may buy the equipment anyway and give it to the FAA.

There is also another system called Auto Land, which would allow pilots to flip a switch and the plane can land itself, no matter what condition of the weather.

That would carry the local airport to a Category 3 facility.

However, Auto Land is extremely expensive, and officials say none of the planes that land here are carrying the corresponding equipment to utilize it.

McClellan said, "The amount of time that we have fog is what you have to look at. Does it justify that additional expense for those few numbers of times that we have fog that they were unable to arrive.

McClellan says they're still waiting on the FAA's decision on the equipment that would bring the airport to Category 2 standards.