The Pulaski County Airport Association Board approached the Commissioners Monday to inform them of their need to extend their runway an additional 800 ft. The runway, which is currently 4200 ft long, is required to be at least 5000 ft in order for corporate aircraft to land without jeopardizing their insurance. This is a huge issue for corporations, such as the Braun Corporation, because they are forced to lower the amount of weight on their aircraft in order to land on a shorter runway. This adds up to a substantial amount of difference in cost of operation, because the fewer trips an aircraft has to make, the better; Each time an aircraft has to shut off and then start up again, cycling the fuel through the system, it costs about $2000!
“The runway has been identified as needing to be extended because the current corporations using the airport are restricted in what they can do at that airport,” said Airport Association Board Member, Mark Shilling.
There are federal grants available that would cover 95% of the project, and state grants would cover an additional 2.5%. This leaves 2.5% to be covered by the airport, which is an estimated cost of around $40,000. This upgrade is definitely recommended, because 98% of the airport’s landings are for business and the ability to safely land corporate aircraft is extremely beneficial.
“The interesting points of that is it does take it past a current county road which the FAA would require to be closed, and it would also require an extensive amount of land acquisition,” said Shilling.
The county road in question is 100 West. The land owners that are affected by the land acquisition will be notified via letter, and the airport board will be preparing legal descriptions of the land required. They will also stake out the land and have it appraised, and will then offer the property owner the market value for the land. There will be a public hearing to address any comments from residents.
“We’re approaching the commissioners because we are at a stage in the environmental assessment process for our proposed improvements, that the FAA is comfortable for us going public with it to gain public insight and comments on the project. We wanted to make sure the commissioners knew what was coming, because I would imagine as officials that if property owners or interested people would contact them, they might not know to contact the board of aviation commissioners, that’s a more obscure board,” said Shilling.