By Julie Ann Grimm
All three runways at Santa Fe Municipal Airport will be available for nighttime takeoffs and landings once a project now underway is completed.
Airport Manager Jim Montman said the city expects about $477,366 from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for runway lights and for wind cones on the 6,300-feet-long airport runway used by small aircraft. The other two runways at the airport on the southwestern edge of the city already have such equipment, he said.
“It’s a new capability that we have never had before on that runway,” Montman said.
City officials are expected to formally approve the grant application this week and it should be finalized by federal officials before Sept. 21, he said. Construction would begin in mid-October.
Meanwhile, Montman said repairs have been ordered for an automated feature on the main runway that has been malfunctioning. A system that allows incoming pilots to make runway lights brighter needs a new part for a relay panel, he said. Lights there are manually controlled by airport management for now and can be made brighter depending on weather and other factors.
The airport is also in the process of using an earlier federal grant for rebuilding its main taxiway, the area that all aircraft arriving or departing from the airport use. Workers who expect to wrap up in December or January are tearing out the old asphalt and replacing it, along with installing new LED lighting features there. A rotating navigational beacon on top of the airport control tower will also be renovated.
The Santa Fe airport is used by a number of private planes and is served by the commercial carrier American Eagle during this season with three flights to Dallas and one to Los Angeles. More flights are offered during the summer, and there will be fewer in the winter. Federal and state grants also for a radar system that replaced visual air traffic control in 2011.
In fiscal year 2011, the city reported that the airport handled 77,990 aircraft operations and loaded 43,156 commercial airline passengers.