Airport slated for improvements

Transmittal budget document reveals numerous projects to be done over the next five years

During budget time, plans were unveiled for improvements to the Cottonwood Airport.

One of these projects is a lighting improvement and runway extension project. According to the transmittal budget document, the design for the project is listed as an organizational goal for this fiscal year.

Finance Director Rudy Rodriguez said the city has budgeted $81,000 to complete a design plan for the project. Grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation will fund 97.5 percent of the project. Runway 14 is to be extended in the next two years.

According to the transmittal, "The overrun on the south end of the runway will be converted to runway. Taxiway A will be extended to the south end of the new runway."

The lighting improvement part of the project is expected to take place in FY 2008-'09.

"While the extension of the runway and taxiway is pretty straightforward, the lighting is not so much," Public Works Director Tim Costello said.

He said some of the hardware at the airport is 20 years old and will probably be obsolete in the next few years. The design work will tell if the entire system needs to be replaced.

Although extending the runway may accommodate aircraft with a larger wingspan, Costello said the project would not significantly impact what type of aircraft currently uses the airport.

"There may be a few more of the business type jets arriving in Cottonwood," he said. But he relates that to a "business trend" happening now to use more of these type jets.

"Lengthening the runway by 300 feet will probably not effect that trend. That trend will happen anyhow."

Most of the flights that come into and take off from the airport are small, single engine planes, with some twin-engine and commercial flights, Costello said.

Rodriguez said that, although the improvements may accommodate newer types of small jets, private jets and some commercial jets, the extension is not an attempt to lure in big commercial aircraft.

Currently the Cottonwood Airport is a class B-I airport. In classifying, the alpha character determines the approach speed and the Roman numeral determines wing span. Costello said the 2003 Cottonwood Airport Master Plan calls for an upgrade to B-II, which would allow planes with a wingspan of up to 79 feet. The airport is restricted to aircraft less than 12,500 pounds and, although the class may be upgraded, the airport will maintain this weight requirement.

According to the transmittal document, the purpose of extending the runway is to "increase the safety margin for take-offs."

The project is expected to cost $289,000, and most of this will be FAA and ADOT grant-funded as well.

Other airport projects budgeted for the future include land acquisition, relocating the parachute drop zone, adding additional hangers and installing an automatic weather observation station.

The automatic weather observation station is, according to the transmittal document, "a weather instrument with radio and phone communication capability that allows pilots to get remote, real-time weather information for the airport. This is required for instrument approaches and commuter service.

"This equipment that provides accurate weather information is an important safety issue for airport users as the airport becomes increasingly busy."

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