City airport completing ramp expansion, ups flight program enrollment

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015

At Monday’s Airport Commission meeting, Elizabethton Municipal Airport Chief Operating Officer Dan Cogan announced that the $3 million ramp expansion project is coming to a close, on budget. He also announced that a runway extension project is underway and that flight school enrollment has doubled.
The ramp expansion project, created 14 new T-hangars, more aircraft storage and increased parking capacity, Cogan said.
“This will enhance capacity, safety and ease of operations, and has already received lots of positive pilot feedback,” he added.
The additional turnaround space makes it safer and smoother for planes to move, Cogan said, which should eliminate the need to move one plane to get to another.
The project involved a repaving of the asphalt, which the weight of a stationary plane broke through in 2011.
“Our pavement is great across the board,” Cogan said. “A lot of airports did not fair as well as we did.”
The work also included a significantly improved drainage system, the lack of which he said had been an issue in the past.
The grant application is awaiting approval for a runway expansion project that will add 485 feet to the 5,000-foot ramp.
“This provides a nice safety margin, enhances safety and can increase the amount of fuel purchased on site,” said Cogan.
He said, that because additional fuel makes a plane heavier, it can take longer to get off the ramp. With a longer ramp, planes can carry more fuel, save themselves a potential stop between take-off and landing, and bring in more revenue for the airport.
Cogan also discussed the doubled enrollment in the flight program, which Cogan said is attributable to marketing initiatives and to students applying from other schools.
“We have to make sure our new students are of the same caliber as our currently enrolled students,” he said.
The program now has about 20 students and three regular instructors, though it occasionally has additional instructors, Cogan added.
Additionally, Wings Air Rescue renewed its five-year contract. It will continue to have one helicopter, and new as of last year, living quarters and a maintenance facility.

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