A Frederick Municipal Airport expansion project that’s been around a decade in the making is finally ready to take flight.
On Thursday, the city’s board of aldermen approved a nearly $2.7 million Federal Administration Aviation (FAA) grant that will go toward the demolition of several buildings obstructing the path of the airport’s runway extension.
“It was planned probably in the late 90s, so it’s a project that’s been around for a long time, and it’s good to finally see movement and actual buildings coming down that are identified as obstructions to air navigation,” said Rick Johnson, they city’s airport manager.
The plan is to extend the runway from 5,280 feet to 6,000 feet. Johnson said that will allow larger planes to land as well as depart with more fuel in the tank.
“Corporate jets will come in and take off without taking on fuel, so the intent is they’ll take on fuel with a longer runway. The city and the airport will receive a fuel flowage fee for that, and so if more people are taking on fuel, then that’s increased revenue for the city and the airport,” Johnson said.
The estimated $32 million expansion has been challenging to fund, but airport officials and local businesses said the project is important for them to stay competitive.
“All the modern aircrafts of today, the Falcon, the Gulfstreams, typically want that magic number of 6,000 feet,” said Steve Southworth, general manager for landmark aviation at Frederick Municipal Airport.
And with Frederick Airport’s proximity to Baltimore and D.C., the hope is that the longer runway will only add to its appeal.
“Frederick is a great location, 45 minutes outside of two major cities. It’s very attractive to the corporate aircraft of the future, really,” Southworth said.
As long the airport continues to receive funding from the FAA, Johnson said he expects the project to be complete in the next five to seven years.
Also approved at the meeting was a $64,500 purchase order to conduct a wildlife hazard assessment five miles around the airport, as well as a nearly $140,000 purchase order to construct a building for snow removal equipment at the airport.