- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Federal aviation officials say they won’t pay the $5 million to $6 million cost to replace a safety structure at the Little Rock airport, saying it’s redundant after other changes at the facility following a 1999 crash.

The pilot and 10 passengers died after the American Airlines Flight 1420 overshot the runway while landing during a thunderstorm in June 1999. Five other crew members and 105 passengers suffered injuries, while 24 other passengers were not hurt.

A structure, known as an engineered materials arresting system, is designed to stop aircraft overruns and was installed following the crash at the now-Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Me0JI4 ) reported. It will be removed since the Federal Aviation Administration said the airport’s runway now has a 1,000-foot safety area.

“We went to the FAA and asked them to replace (the engineered materials arresting system) with the newer generation, and they came back and said, ‘No, it’s an either/or,’” said Ron Mathieu, the airport’s executive director. “And we appealed our case all the way up to Washington, D.C., and ultimately they came back and said, ‘No.’”

A committee of the Little Rock Airport Municipal Commission accepted a recommendation Wednesday by airport staff to award the work of structure’s removal to Redstone Construction Co. of Little Rock as part of a larger $1.5 million project. The full commission will take up the bid proposal Tuesday.

Airport officials say the Redstone bid was under engineering estimates for the project. Work is expected to begin in October.

According to documents supporting the bid award, 90 percent of the funding is from an FAA airport improvement program grant. An Arkansas Aeronautics Department grant will provide the remainder of the money.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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