BLOUNTVILLE - A Monday evening Delta Connection flight coming into Tri-Cities Regional Airport had to be diverted to Knoxville after problems developed with the airfield lighting system, TCRA Executive Director Patrick Wilson said.
TCRA completed a $15.7 million resurfacing of its main runway last weekend — a move that forced the airport to be shut down two weekends in a row.
But a portion of one of the airfield lighting systems temporarily went out of service Monday around 7:15 p.m.
“Our airfield maintenance personnel began immediately working to repair the system,” Wilson said in an email. “The system was returned to service around 11:30 p.m. During this period, one scheduled flight was diverted to Knoxville and the passengers were bused to (TCRA)...The (Delta) airline personnel could not pull up the number of passengers because of the way the airline system tracked the flight as a diversion...The last U.S. Airways flight was not a delay, it was cancelled. The aircraft did come in later that night, without passengers, to be available for the first scheduled flight out on Tuesday morning.”
The runway resurfacing was completed despite all-day rainfall on Saturday.
Still, TCRA Air Service and Marketing Director Melissa Thomas noted there is “several weeks' worth of work” that will have to be done during nightly shut down periods between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. before the project will be completely finished.
A $14.2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration is covering most of the project, with state and TCRA shares covering the remainder.
TCRA lost about 60 inbound and outbound flights during the two work periods — all from Delta and U.S. Airways.
The resurfacing job is expected to last 25 to 30 years.
For more about TCRA go to www.triflight.com.