The Fort Smith Regional Airport is once again home to a critical care air ambulance service.
Airborne Flying Services was approved Tuesday by the Airport Commission to operate as a contractor for Pafford Emergency Medical Service and provide pilots and mechanics to fly Pafford’s twin-engine turbo-prop King Air. Airborne, which has its main base in Hot Springs, previously operated in Fort Smith for about a year in the late 2000s, according to Airport Director John Parker.
Clay Hobbs, director of operations for Pafford Emergency Medical Service, said their aircraft, which has a cruising speed of 265 mph, is a flying intensive care unit with both a flight nurse and paramedic on board. Pafford has had a call-in base in Fort Smith since 2013. In the past week, the service has made flights to Tulsa, Little Rock, Houston and a hospital in Ohio, Hobbs said.
Pafford only recently started offering ICU-level flights year-round, seven days a week out of Fort Smith, Hobbs added. Pafford, however, has been in business since the late 1960s and has operations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
In an airport activities report, Fort Smith Airport Director of Operations Michael Griffin told commissioners that a $439,000 project to concrete pave the access to West Corporate General Aviation should be completed by the end of the year. A request for 90 percent reimbursement will be submitted to the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.
Taxiway A West, a four-year, $7.1 million project, also is expected be completed by the end of the year. The reconstruction was done to widen and straighten a slight turn in the taxiway. A grant application will be submitted in January to the Department of Aeronautics for reimbursement of the 5 percent portion paid by the airport.
An additional security fence around the perimeter of the airport is also now under construction and will be complete by the end of the year. And the replacement of the airport’s air conditioner is complete. After a 136-ton Carrier unit broke down this summer, the commission approved airport staff to pay $251,000 to replace it with two 100-ton Trane units that are capable of running independently to meet the maximum needs of the airport.