FAYETTEVILLE -- Municipal airport officials want to remain fiscally responsible with an eye toward growth.
They have planned more than $10.6 million in capital improvements over the next five years. The plan includes widening a taxiway, repaving the runway, making the terminal more energy-efficient and building hangars.
Capital Improvement Plan
The airport has $10,608,000 in improvements budgeted over the next five years. Projects are paid for mostly through federal and state grants.
• Taxiway B widening and renovation: $1,650,000
Beacon upgrade: $120,000
Terminal parking lot renovation: $200,000
•Hangar roof renovation: $458,000
• Fayetteville energy assessment project: $500,000
• Total: $2,928,000
• Runway pavement and lighting renovation (preliminary engineering): $120,000
• Hangar construction: $1,000,000
• Fuel farm renovation: $310,000
• Runway pavement markings: $100,000
• Fayetteville energy assessment project: $500,000
• Total: $2,030,000
• Runway pavement and lighting renovation (design): $150,000
• Hangar roof renovation: $200,000
•Taxiway A renovation: $100,000
• Total: $450,000
• Runway pavement renovation (construction): $3,400,000
• Airfield lighting and sign renovation: $1,200,000
• Total: $4,600,000
• Arkansas Rural Firefighters vehicle: $600,000
• Total: $600,000
Source: City of Fayetteville
Summer Fallen, airport services manager since July, said all nine of the corporate hangars are leased, there's a waiting list for double T-hangars and four single T-hangars are available. There are 94 T-hangars total.
"If the airport is going to continue to grow, we need more space to house aviation-related businesses and individuals who would like their aircraft to be based in Fayetteville," she said.
Officials also want to replace the heating and air-conditioning systems, which were installed in the 1980s.
The airport is one of two in the country this year to receive a Federal Aviation Administration grant to retrofit the terminal for energy efficiency, said Terry Gulley, city transportation services director. Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, received $1.3 million for the project, according to the FAA's website. Fayetteville got $25,740 for an energy assessment so it can apply for another grant in 2018 to complete efficiency projects.
The work might include solar panels, using geothermal energy or a new chiller and boiler, Gulley said.
"If any or all of that works out, who knows?" he said. "That might end up saving us three-quarters of a million dollars or something."
The airport is in the design phase to widen and fix Taxiway B because larger planes have trouble rounding its corners. The $1.6 million construction is set to begin next year. The FAA will pay for 90 percent of the project through the Airport Improvement Program.
A roof rehab project should also finish up in 2018. The Arkansas Air and Military Museum, in the old terminal, the FAA building and hangars that needed repair all got new roofs.
The airport also will get a spruced-up parking lot. The City Council on Tuesday gave airport officials authority to apply for a grant from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics. The city would contribute about $45,000 to the $180,000 project, Gulley said.
The city's Capital Improvements Plan, which the council approved Tuesday, has $245,000 set aside for repairs to the airport over the next five years. Those would tackle basic needs, like new plumbing, fixing the leaky skylight and replacing ceiling tiles, Fallen said.
"Our main focus right now is fixing the issues we have," she said. "Before we can improve the terminal as a whole, we need to address the problems as they stand."
The airport also needs a new beacon. The one it has is fading, and a new one would hopefully sit atop the tower and be more energy efficient, Fallen said.
Fallen and Gulley attended the Arkansas Airport Operators Association conference in Eureka Springs on Oct. 16-17. A big part of the association's mission is to have municipal airports in the state become financially sustainable.
The Springdale airport has nearly $250,000 in the bank, according to Wyman Morgan, the city's finance director. The airport plans to buy 10 acres nearby and expand. The City Council has approved a $207,000 FAA grant to fix up the runway and replace its lighting with LED lights.
The Bentonville airport wants to build a new taxiway, which would lead to more hangars. The number of planes based at the airport has increased from 63 in 2014 to 77. Airport officials predict there will be 111 by 2035.
The Rogers airport finished a $6.6 million runway, lighting and drainage project this summer. An upcoming taxiway improvement project has an estimated cost of $2.2 million and entails about 10,000 square yards of new concrete, said David Krutsch, airport manager.
In a time when municipal airports around the country are struggling, the ones in Northwest Arkansas are doing relatively well.
Cities across the nation are reconsidering the value of municipal airports in the era of super jets and budget cuts, according to a July 18 New York Times article. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association estimated the nation loses 50 public-use airports a year, the Times reported.
"Right now, we're holding our own and managing to raise enough revenue to meet the expenses that we incur," Gulley said. "Any extra we make we usually use to match grant opportunities."
More than 70 percent of the Fayetteville airport's $2.2 million budget comes from fuel sales. Nearly all the rest comes from rent.
Fallen said fuel sales are up 14 percent from this time last year. All of the terminal space is rented to aviation companies, the Post Office and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Skydive Fayetteville signed a contract in August.
Jett Aircraft started leasing space at the terminal as Creamer Pilot Services about a year ago. The Fayetteville-based business, which manages a service for aircraft owners who rent their planes to pilots, wanted to grow, said Scott Davis, director of maintenance.
Under the Jett moniker, the company renovated about 2,200 square feet of space at the terminal. The renovation work is an investment as it hopes to start a charter service by the end of the year, Davis said.
"We're trying to grow a business also," he said. "We figured if they're in growth mode, and we're in growth mode, we might as well hold hands and take off running."
Fallen officially became airport manager in July. Before that, she had been serving a dual role as financial coordinator and manager. Gulley was helping run things at the airport, on top of his duties as city transportation director. Gulley now serves an advisory role, Fallen focuses solely on managing the airport and Dee McCoy, former administrative assistant, moved up to financial coordinator.
NW News on 10/23/2017
Print Headline: Municipal airport taking off