By Gary Huffenberger
The Wilmington Air Park needs to be named a National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) airport to get federal funds to pay for upgrades to keep its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) operating certificate but there’s a complication, facility officials said Wednesday.
The county airport on North Curry Road already is NPIAS-eligible and the FAA says the two airports are too close to both be NPIAS-eligible.
“We’ve raised it with the White House and the federal administration. We’ve raised it with I believe Senators Brown and Portman and we’ve had that discussion with Congressman Turner’s office as well,” Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Kevin Carver reported Wednesday to the Port Authority board.
The FAA “consistently” has told the Port Authority that it will not allow two NPIAS-eligible airports within a certain radius of each other and the two airports in Clinton County are within that radius, said Carver.
“So, that’s the challenge. We’ll continue to work on it, both locally and at the federal and state levels,” he added.
He reminded board members that NPIAS is the “access point” for larger federal grants that come through the FAA. NPIAS is also the “entry point” for an entitlement grant program through which Clinton Field on Curry Road receives funding, said Carver.
As previously reported, the consultants who recently completed a master re-use plan for the air park listed as their top concern the possibility the facility could lose its FAA airport operating certificate.
The air park has a valid FAA Part 139 operating certificate, but the FAA has said the certificate’s long-term status is in jeopardy unless costly safety and security upgrades are made.
Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services (AMES), a current air park tenant, has indicated it would be unable to stay in business at the air park if the site loses its FAA certificate, master redevelopment plan Project Manager Dan Riedy said in December.
Carver said after Wednesday’s Port Authority meeting that he has met with Clinton Field board members on at least three occasions concerning the matter.
He said both the Port Authority and the Clinton Field board are trying “to consider potential options to resolve the situation.”
Port Authority officials believe the air park is going to need access to federal and state funds to assist paying an estimated $4.6 million in improvements required to keep an FAA operating certificate.
Carver and Jim Osborne, director of airport operations at the air park, met last week with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Division of Aviation about funding.
“We were informed we were eligible to apply for grant money – that’s the good news. The bad news is they (ODOT) have less than a million dollars available for more than 90 general aviation airports in the state of Ohio,” Carver advised the Port Authority board members.
Source: Wilmington News Journal