$1 million in grants coming to Butler County Airport

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The Butler County Airport will get about a million dollars in improvements in the coming months because of two grants that are on the horizon.

Airport manager Ivan Longdon learned this month that the Butler County Airport Authority has been awarded a $750,000 combination federal/state grant. That news came on the heels of a $150,000 state grant that was announced by Gov. Tom Corbett in July.

The $750,000 grant will be used to subsidize a widening of the south side taxiway at the airport in Penn.

The $150,000 grant will be used for a self-serve fueling system.

"We're very pleased," Mr. Longdon said of the infusion of money.

The fueling system is in the planning stages and is expected to be bid and installed this fall. Currently, all aircraft have to cross the runway at the airport to reach the existing fueling station on the north side of the facility.

"That problem will be alleviated. This is a safety project," Mr. Longdon said.

The taxiway widening is expected to begin in the spring and will give aircraft about 15 additional feet of width on which to taxi. The existing taxiway is 20 feet. The widening will create a taxiway that meets Federal Aviation Administration recommendations for the types of aircraft that use the airport.

"It's wide enough as it is, but it's not ideal. This will make it ideal," Mr. Longdon explained.

He said the grant had been sought for two years and he believes that growth in annual operations is what tipped the scales in the airport's favor. According to state figures, the airport currently hosts about 73,000 operations per year, compared with about 60,000 in 2005.

About 90 percent of the grant is from the FAA, 5 percent is from the state Bureau of Aviation, and the airport will contribute the 5 percent balance. Mr. Longdon said the matching contribution is on hand.

Last year, the airport received a $1 million grant for hangar expansion and $250,000 for maintenance work that involved removing obstructions, sealing cracks and re-marking the runway.

AirQuest Aviation is the fixed-base operator at the 300-plus-acre airport, which opened in 1929 on Airport Road.

Transportation - neigh_north

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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