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Airport execs talk big plans

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

The Lincolnton-Lincoln County Regional Airport has big plans in store for the coming year, including the installation of a new glide-slope system that will allow more planes to land during bad weather.

Airport Manager Joe Tate and Martin Eaddy of the Airport Authority presented updates on the airport at the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s networking luncheon Wednesday and at the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, respectively.

In their presentations, they highlighted not only the past growth of the airport but its plans for the future, as well. They also stressed the importance of the airport to the county’s economic development, saying the evidence exists that it helps to stimulate economic growth.

“It’s one of the nicest airports in the state,” Tate said, noting that its current approximate value stands at $30 million, with an estimated annual economic output of more than $8.5 million.

More than $11.8 million in grant funds have been used in developing the airport over the years since it opened in 1986, after a $2.5 million initial investment.

It currently boasts 83 based aircraft (though that number hasn’t changed since 2007), 48 tie-down locations, 34 aircraft T-hangars, eight private hangars, 18,000 visitors a year, pilot 24-hour-access accommodations and the Premier Air flight-training school. It is also considered a reliever airport for Charlotte Douglas International Airport, serving both corporate customers and private pilots.

Throughout the next year, the airport plans to add to that list a glide-slope system which, Tate said, will allow for more potential landings.

“It will give us more traffic in bad weather,” he told the Times-News.

Tate said many corporate aviation departments and insurance policies require certain landing systems to aid pilots in their descent to the runway and provide for more controlled and safer landings. The glide-slope is an all-weather system that helps pilots in doing this by giving them improved vertical guidance.

The system is a $2.3 million project, which Tate said is being funded through a federal grant that the North Carolina Department of Transportation-Division of Aviation allocates to certain airports in the state.

“We’re on good terms with officials in Raleigh,” he noted.

Development on the project is currently in the second of five phases, but he expects it to be completed toward the end of the year.

Tate also said they will “move dirt” on the proposed industrial park adjacent to the airport by this summer or fall, with the upcoming installation of a city-run sewer line the first step in that direction.

 

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