DoD to open second Haitian airport (MTJA Jacmel)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Douville (middle) from the 1st SOSS out of Hurlbert Field, FL., and Combat Controllers fly back to the Port Au Prince airport after conducting runway and hospital assessments in Jacmel, Haiti on January 17, 2010. Jacmel is located on the other side of Haiti with a city population of 50,000. Their Hospital was destroyed by the earthquake and are treating patients outside the hospital. About 350 people have lost their lives in Jacmel due to the earthquake according to Emmet Murphy Chief of Party ACDIL VOCA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock)

100117-F-1644L-086, originally uploaded by US_Air_Force.

With Port-au-Prince’s overworked airport (MTPP) now straining to handle over 200 aircraft movements per day, USAF combat controllers have examined the airfield at Jacmel (MTJA), on Haiti’s southern coast, and decided to utilise it.

1/19/2010 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — As some 200 daily flights transit through the congested and sole functioning Haitian airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. military officials are going to open a second runway in the city of Jacmel within a day.

The airfield will receive C-130 Hercules deliveries that initially will support Canadian humanitarian assistance efforts centered in the southern city about 30 miles southeast of the Haitian capital, a military official said.

“The first (additional) runway in Haiti proper will go into operation in the vicinity of Jacmel within the next 24 hours,” Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, the second in command of U.S. operations in Haiti, told Pentagon reporters Jan. 19.

— Kruzel, John J.  “U.S. to open additional runway in Haiti.” American Forces Press Service, 19 January 2010.

Here’s a look at the field itself:

Jacmel Airport (MTJA)

REF: N18° 14′ 28″  W072° 31′ 07″, Elev 167ft.
OPR: Autorité Aeroportuaire Nationale
SERVICES: (Fuel, etc. ) Unknown
RWY DATA: Rwy 01 (005°) /19 (185°) 3300 x 95ft, asphalt.
COMM: ATF 118.5

As with all Haitian airports, it has a single runway and tiny apron/ramp area.  The runway is certainly long enough to accomodate tactical airlifters such as C-130s; however it is 200 feet too short (and probably not structurally strong enough) to permit C-17s to land there.  The apron area is large enough to accommodate two C-130s or perhaps four or five light twins; rotary-wing aircraft can be parked on the grass to conserve ramp slots.  Unless USAF brings portable visual or infrared lighting systems, the field will be restricted to daytime operations only.

We can assume that fuel services are nil, at the moment, so as with MTPP, arriving aircraft will have to tanker their own fuel.  Canadian CC-130E/Hs have an effective range with max payload of approximately 1000 nautical miles (nm), however the main allied relief staging area, Homestead ARB, is 616nm from Jacmel.  This means that CF CC-130s operating into Jacmel will have to sacrifice payload for fuel; which they would have to do anyway in order to make the journey down to Homestead from Trenton (1,125nm).

Navy circle indicates CC-130 range with max normal payload, 1000 nautical miles. Because aircraft will need to tanker their own return fuel to Jacmel, they can not arrive with maximum normal payload.

Finally, some images of Jacmel Airport, sourced from Flickr.

Jacmel Airport Strip, originally uploaded by Haitian Children’s Home.

Jacmel Airport, originally uploaded by Haitian Children’s Home.

Waiting at the Jacmel Airport for the Plane, originally uploaded by Haitian Children’s Home.

Jacmel’s airport, originally uploaded by badfish006.

Jacmel 066, originally uploaded by JamesD1967.

UPDATE 030936Z FEB 10: Just noticed an informative Winnipeg Free Press report; routing between Trenton and Jacmel is being handled via Kingston, Jamaica.  The strat-lift CC-177s are transporting supplies and equipment between Trenton and Kingston, and the tac-lift CC-130s move the payload from Kingston to Jacmel.  More info on Jacmel in this post—MTJA airfield flow and relief operations.

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