Lighting improvements at the Cassville Municipal Airport, funded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), have been completed and the airport is once again open for business.
The airport was closed during the second week of November last year, according to Eugene Dilbeck, Cassville city administrator, so the airport's lighting system could be replaced with a state-of-the- art system.
"The airport lighting system was in bad shape," Dilbeck said. "The FAA had entitlement funding that we had to use or lose. That funding exists to help smaller airports."
The engineering firm of Bucher Willis and Ratliff (BWR), of Kansas City, was hired to work on the project, and representatives from MoDOT's Aviation Division approved the plans for upgrades to the airport, based on those recommendations.
Work on the project, under the direction of Warren Stukel, began in November, with a targeted deadline of Dec. 31, 2010.
"Mr. Stukel installed all new runway lights, as well as lights at the end of the runway and at the approaches, as well as a PAPI system for pilots," Dilbeck said.
The PAPI system, which stands for Precision Approach Path Indicator, is activated by pilots from cockpit controls. The system reduces wear on the bulbs, reduces the city's electrical expense and allows for longer life of the system.
"Mr. Stukel finished the job, and the final inspection was made Jan. 5," Dilbeck said. "All that remains is the FAA inspectors making their inspection, which we understand will be in the next three to six weeks. In the meantime, the airport is open and fully functional."
Dilbeck said about 15 airplanes are hangared at the Cassville Airport, and 2009 traffic statistics indicated a total of 3,600 take-offs and landings.
"Everything about the system is new," Dilbeck said. "Pilots should find it very accommodating."
Mike Schlichtman, chairman of the airport advisory board, noted the improvements are part of an ongoing plan to expand both business and tourism to the Cassville area.
Schlichtman said one of the things industry leaders look for when they choose to relocate a business is the facilities available at the airport.
"I'm very excited," Schlichtman said. "I see this as a tremendous tool for Cassville and the surrounding area to expand and grow business, tourism and general aviation."
While the lighting project took nearly three years to get approved and completed, local leaders are already looking forward to the next airport project.
"We are looking at extending the runway pending FAA and MoDOT approval," Dilbeck said.
"By extending the runway, the airport will be capable of handling anticipated business and corporate jet traffic," Schlichtman said.
It is expected that project will take about three years to complete.
The city's cost to upgrade the airport's lighting system was $16,541. The remainder of the $329,541 project cost was paid for through federal grant funding.