Fayette Airport Receives $55,000 Grant

The grant will be used for security fencing and gates.


The second grant package in three months has been awarded to the Fayette County Airport from the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.

The grant of $55,000 announced Monday will be used for security fencing and gates around the hangar.

The airport, about 6 miles from Somerville, is equipped with a 5,000-foot runway and adjacent 5,000-foot taxiway. It has an NDB (Non-Directional Beacon) approach and an automated weather observation system.

In June the state awarded $2,136,667 in grants to the airport to acquire land, buy fuel tanks, build T-hangars and expand the apron and taxiway connector.

Last December, Romeo Sierra Aviation LLC was hired by Fayette County to manage the airport.

Steve Atkins, a partner in the operation, said: "What we have accomplished and are looking for is primarily maintaining and upgrading the airport from the standpoint of hangars, terminal space, fuel and availability of aircraft for rental."

Ann Williams, budget director for the county, said on Tuesday the security grant announced this week will be used to finish one section of fencing and to install security devices on gates.

Many of the grants typically are used to keep up with requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

But the county also wants to make it more attractive to corporate users.

With increased security and the associated inconvenience of commercial air travel, there is greater interest in general aviation solutions. "Often you can get to your destination more quickly with a small charter," Williams says.

Two key elements are improving fuel services and hangar space, both of which are goals of the June grants.

"The main thing we want is to put in a fuel system with a containment feature and that could also offer jet fuel," Williams says.

The county also wants to construct T-hangars - buildings that can hold single aircraft. The airport has two large hangars, but if a pilot's plane is at the back of one of them, other aircraft have to be moved first before it can exit the hangar.

T-hangars would not only be more convenient but also produce revenue for the county.

"Eventually," Williams says, "the county would like to add a terminal so corporate pilots can come in to check weather and file flight plans."

Atkins says there are about 30 airplanes based at the airport. It averages about 150 takeoffs and landings a month.

Most aircraft using the airport are single-engine piston-powered airplanes. Twin-engine planes are less frequent and a jet comes through about once a month.

"We also have a couple of airplanes we've put on the line for rental and flight instruction."

Grant applications are reviewed by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission (TAC), a five-member board charged with policy planning and with regulating changes in the state airport system plan.



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