For Immediate Release

April 29, 2005
Contact: Arlene Salac or Jim Peters
Phone: (718) 553-3015

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today approved an alternative for the extension of Runway 17-35 at Philadelphia International Airport that will reduce airport delays with the least environmental impact. The runway's extension will result in an estimated yearly delay reduction of more than 12,000 hours in 2007, the FAA said.

In its record of decision, the FAA chose "Alternative One" that would extend Runway 17-35 by 640 feet to the north and 400 feet to the south, for a new, overall runway length of 6,500 feet. The extension will shift over 120 operations to Runway 17-35, which will reduce congestion on the airport's primary runways. This alternative also would include a standard runway safety area and would require maintaining current operational procedures to suspend Runway 35 arrivals when certain ships are present in the Delaware River channel.

The city of Philadelphia proposed the extension of Runway 17-35 as a way to provide short-term relief from delays by 2007. Both the Runway 17-35 Extension Project and the airport's Capacity Enhancement Program that addresses the airport's capacity needs beyond 2007 were selected by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta for expedited environmental review.

The FAA issued the Runway 17-35 final environmental impact statement on March 11, with its review period ending April 11. The Runway 17-35 draft environmental impact statement was issued on Oct. 15, 2004. In addition to evaluating the ability of the alternatives to meet the project's purpose and need and their potential impacts on the environment, the FAA considered all comments before reaching the decision outlined in the record of decision.

The other alternatives considered for the Runway 17-35 Extension Project were:

  • Alternative 2 – This alternative would extend Runway 17-35 by 1,140 feet to the north and 400 feet to the south. The new runway would be 7,000 feet long. This alternative would use an engineered material arresting system (EMAS) — a soft concrete barrier to stop an aircraft at the end of the runway — in place of a standard runway safety area. It would also require a displaced threshold – the safety buffer at the departure end of the runway – but would not require ship notification.
  • No-Action Alternative – This option would involve only periodic maintenance and minor enhancements needed to maintain safe operations at Philadelphia International Airport. A "no action" recommendation serves as the baseline for comparison of potential impacts and the ability of the other alternatives to meet the airport's need.

This is the final federal approval for the project, enabling the airport to apply for federal grants to help fund construction.

The record of decision can be viewed at