Several alleged discrepancies in the initial Environmental Assessment for the Pulaski County Airport Expansion project and other reports were recently noted by Derrick Dilts, a resident of Pulaski County whose land would be affected by the acquisition required for the expansion.
In an email sent from Dilts to Bobb Beauchamp of the FAA, Mark Shillington of Woolpert Airport Consultants, and several others, Dilts points out that in the last five years, a total of 77 King Air flight plans were filed at Arens Field, which is dramatically less than the 460 annually claimed in the report. He also mentioned that 56 of those operations were by Braun Racing, a company that was sold in 2010 and therefore can no longer contribute to the number of flights that take place. He also mentioned that some of the flights that take place have been counted twice under the names of different corporations, and went on to note other discrepancies in the number of flights claimed.
“It would seem to me incumbent on Mr. Shillington and his firm to pull current IFR data to substantiate a usage letter which is three and one-half years old, given that they were willing and able to pull IFR data in 2007 when it was beneficial to their interests,” writes Dilts.
Dilts also mentioned that other figures used in the report are erroneous. In his email, Dilts stated that the number of operations were calculated by placing an audible sensor on the runway on July 31, 2009, which was later removed on September 1, and gave a total of 378 operations in that time. This figure was then divided by the number of days recorded, and multiplied by 365 to give the final operations number. However, the issue is that the period of time that the sensor was on the runway was the same time that crops are required to be dusted by the local crop duster, which would compose 5 to 6 flights per day, greatly skewing the final figure.
“The problem with this calculation as it applies to total air traffic is that it is the exact same time period when crops are too high in the fields for ground based application of herbicide, and thus the little crop duster would use the airport during that month and that month only,” states Dilts’ email.
Also mentioned in the report is the possible expansion of the Starke County Airport to 5005 feet as well. Woolpert is currently in the process of filing the Environmental Assessment in order to get this expansion underway, and if they were both approved, it would put two 5,000 foot runways within a 20 minute drive of each other. The Starke County Airport expansion would not require the acquisition of land.