By Allison Petty
February 7, 2011
DECATUR – Decatur Airport recently received a security clearance granted to fewer than 40 airports in the nation.
The airport last month joined the list of “Gateway Airports,” a category that arose out of security concerns about Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the wake of 9/11.
General aviation aircraft, including corporate airplanes, must receive clearance at and depart from a Gateway Airport to fly in to Reagan Airport.
Decatur Airport is one of 36 in the country and two in the state (the other is Chicago Midway International Airport) to receive the clearance, though the Transportation Security Administration Web site does not yet reflect the change.
“We hope that it brings us some business and notoriety for downstate Illinois,” Airport Director Joe Attwood said.
The process took several months. Attwood said the airport undertook it at the request of Archer Daniels Midland Co., which keeps a few corporate airplanes there.
The company refused interview requests but released a statement about the program.
“Gateway status sets the Decatur Airport apart from other airports in Central Illinois and most airports throughout the country,” the statement said. “We support the Transportation Security Administration and the important work they do in keeping the skies safe for the traveling public.”
With exceptions in a few states, most Gateway Airports are east of the Mississippi. Attwood said he hoped some corporate aircraft from Western states might stop at Decatur for clearance before they proceeded to Washington.
There’s no guarantee that those planes will bring any money to the airport, though they might refuel or eat at the Main Hangar Restaurant.
Mostly, Attwood said, “it gives credence to the airport in Decatur as having some ability beyond the immediate community. It’s just another something we can do.”
Source: HERALD & REVIEW