Seven flights per day could land in Cody during the upcoming summer months and this put runway projects on the agenda at the Yellowstone Regional Joint Powers Board meeting Wednesday morning.
If the schedule holds, there are expected to be about 750 more passengers per day coming into the airport during the summer months. Upgrades to the runway will allow the airport to handle this increased traffic.
“It’s nice to be talking about increased numbers of passengers instead of no passengers,” Airport Manager Bob Hooper said. This was in reference to airports like Sheridan, which lost commercial service last year.
Construction specifications have been submitted and they will advertise the work starting next week. Bids will be taken for the taxiway project and they’ll be ready to open by the April 13 YRA board meeting.
It would appear there isn’t too much time left for the old armory structure. The Federal Aviation Administration has developed a draft memorandum and is now awaiting final comments.
Demolition of the old building isn’t imminent, but the process is moving forward, though more studies of the site still need to be done.
“We’re getting into environmental documents, so there’s nothing short about the process,” Hooper said. “We’re waiting to get all of this finalized and then we can demolish the armory.”
Although the weather around the Cody area can turn winter-like in any month, the arrival of new snow equipment seems a bit anti-climactic this year.
It was noted with a sense of irony by members of the Board, the arrival of new equipment coincides with workers getting out the lawn mowers for the season. The grass is already growing around the airport buildings in the mild winter weather.
With the expected upsurge in traffic this summer, the need for rental cars will increase. Hooper directed a comment at the Hertz manager, “Corey, get the cars ready.”
“We don’t have all of the cars yet, but they’re on the way,” said Corey Field, city manager for Hertz Rentals. “We’ll be ready for summer.”
With all the talk of increased traffic on the runways, the focus of the meeting shifted to the Approach Analysis Study, designed to figure out the best way of efficiently maneuvering all the planes.
A presentation of a different approach to Runway 4 was made to the FAA on Feb. 21. This is for a straight-in landing approach on the runway, which would present a challenges.
Guidelines from the FAA require a step-down in altitude when approaching the Yellowstone Regional Airport. This would mean expensive upgrades in monitoring equipment. In a time of budget cutbacks it’s uncertain whether the federal government would offset the costs.
Changing government regulations are also something to consider before moving forward on this type of project.
“What’s the lifetime of this analysis?” board member Jack Way asked. The answer seemed to be it was more about the FAA possibly changing criteria for runway approaches in the future.
Adjacent to the runway work is a project from Choice Aviation for a self-fueling farm at the airport. There was some confusion from the Board as members had heard this project was on hold.
“The self-fueling project has been going through a laborious process,” said Choice Aviation manager Todd Simmons. “At last year’s end, it started to gain momentum again. We would like to get it done by this summer.”
The concern for Choice Aviation is connecting the new fuel area to the existing taxiway network. Simmons asked the Board to consider adding a little work to the runway paving project and connecting the dots. This would mean added costs to the project.
“This is more than just a few loads of extra blacktop and we can’t pull the Taxiway A project off the table,” Hooper responded. “This wasn’t in the plan and the airport doesn’t have the money to do the extra work. We’ll see if this self-fueling depot would be eligible for federal funds.”
Even if they can find the money to add the connecting roads to the taxiway project, the work won’t be done until later in the summer. Choice Aviation managers were willing to sacrifice a few months in order to get the project done right.
This is largely a service to the General Aviation community and would save about 40 cents per gallon as compared to fuel delivery by truck to a plane. The airport would also make some money off the surcharge on the fuel transactions.