The State of New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has awarded Somerset Airport (SMQ) a grant to install a Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) system for runways 12 and 30. This system will greatly enhance safety for pilots landing both day and night at SMQ. Somerset Air Service has been working with NJDOT, Bedminster Township, Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, and our adjoining neighbors as is part of an ongoing project to identify obstructions that are encroaching on the runway clear zones over many years.

What is a PAPI system? The PAPI system is a passive lighting system that provides pilots with glide path guidance on landing. It consists of two or four lights which change color depending upon the angle to which they are viewed. In simple terms, it tells the pilot if he/she is too high, on glide path or, most importantly, if he/she is too low to safely continue an approach.

Does this mean larger airplanes will operate from Somerset Airport? No, the size/type of aircraft operating at SMQ is limited by runway length/width. This system/project does not add one foot to the existing runway pavement. It will reduce the displaced threshold on Runway 30, partially restoring the pre-1990s dimensions.

When will they be installed? Installation is expected before the end of 2012.

What does this mean for pilots operating in and out of SMQ? It enhances a pilot’s judgment; allowing them to better acquire and maintain their glide path during final approach. This will especially be helpful in low-visibility conditions. The trimming of trees will provide more of a margin for safety for aircraft arriving during low-visibility conditions. The expected tree trimming on the west side of the airport should enable departing traffic to better see arriving traffic to Runway 12.

What does it mean for neighbors of Somerset Airport? The neighbors whose trees are in conflict with the clear zones have been in conversation with the Airport regarding this issue. The new Bedminster Ordinance simply updates the existing ordinance to make it comply with New Jersey Air Safety and Zoning Act of 1983.

Somerset Air Service remains committed to the safety of the flying public as well as our service to our customers and the safety and well-being of our neighbors.