Quick, Robin, to the Vertiport! Sixteen Years Later, City Finds Use for $24 Mil Landing Pad.
Till then, this novelty item: You may be unaware that in 1994, the city of Dallas spent $23.9 million (which included a $17.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration) to construct a four-acre vertiport adjacent to the Dallas Convention Center. Downtown landing pads for so-called vertical and/or short take-off and landing aircraft (and, ya know, helicopters) were all the rage back in the early '90s, and Dallas's -- the first of its kind -- was designed to hold five V-22 Ospreys comfortably. But "demand never materialized for use of the Vertiport," according to a Transportation and Environment Committee briefing scheduled for Monday. Why? Well, for starters, it "lacked basic services." Like, oh, a gas station. And an aircraft maintenance crew. And: The lighting's crap -- as in, you can't land an aircraft after sunset. And: The spiral ramp intended for fire trucks is, says here, "has too tight a radius to use." And: The control tower's too low.
Let's put it this way: Fort Worth's considering building its own heliport. And according to its latest look-see, Dallas uses its vertiport 50 times a month. On the other hand, Garland's city-owned HeliPlex runs about 100 operations out of there a day. And it's the very model of awesome. Dallas's, on the other hand, became little more than a place to show off helicopters during helicopter conventions -- a $23.9 million display case.
But the city thinks it needs to do something about the Veriport and pronto: There's a proposal to spend $137,510 to bring the thing up to snuff by January 2011. Why then? C'mon: "To ensure the Vertiport will be operational 24-hours a day for Super Bowl."