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Naval Special Warfare Command training conflicts with proposed new ORF runway

Norfolk International Airport is trying to add a parallel runway, but the U.S. Navy said they don't think so.

Norfolk International Airport is trying to add a parallel runway, but a recently issued letter from the Navy says it’s not going to work.

Navy Rear Admiral Charles Rock wrote a letter to the Norfolk Airport Authority Commissioner Blythe Ann Scott, stating the parallel runway concepts will conflict with “crucial military aircraft training support to Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC).”

The proposed runway, which would range from 5500 to 9000 feet would impact the Navy’s “heavily utilized helicopter training routes” to the point where they would be unable to “execute the flight pattern required to support critical training requirements.”

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Norfolk International Airport wants to add a parallel runway to handle more flights and make operations more efficient. The runway will be included in its Master Plan, which guides the airport’s future development. The plan is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2020.

“There are some scenarios in the forecast that do project our primary runway exceeding the 60 percent annual capacity,” said Steven Sterling, Deputy Executive Director of the Norfolk Airport Authority.

Rock’s letter also said a parallel runway would require NSWC to shift training to another part of the country, which would increase the time away for east coast SEAL operators who are already gone about 253 days a year.

Sterling said they are still evaluating the letter and will look at alternatives.

Rock attached a letter from the Commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, Mark Schafer,  who said the proposed runway would require the Navy to spend more than $70 million to rebuild their ordnance handling/storage area and double the hourly cost of helicopter used to nine million dollars.

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