The Chesterfield County airport recently received a long-awaited approval.
The Federal Aviation Administration informed the airport last month that it had green-lighted an 800-foot extension of the airport runway. The approval comes more than four years after the airport filed an application, Airport Director Pat Driscoll said.
The approval means the FAA concluded that the project would have no substantial negative impact.
The airport, which is officially called the Richmond Executive Airport-Chesterfield County, is known as a general aviation reliever airport and is meant to accommodate noncommercial air traffic, while Richmond International Airport processes commercial flights.
The extension will allow larger jets to carry more fuel so they can fly at their full capacity, Driscoll said. The ability to fly farther is important for leaders of the large companies that operate out of the airport who often have to travel across the country.
“In general, it allows current jets at the airport to fly at their full capacity. It allows larger jets to come in and operate out of the airport,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll said he couldn’t give projections for how many more aircraft would use the airport with the extension because the airport lacks a control tower and isn’t able to get a count of how many aircraft currently use it. But he said the airport’s fuel sales, an indicator of traffic, have steadily risen in recent years.
The project will start next year with the removal of trees.
State and federal monies will pay for the majority of the $27 million project. But the county will handle about 10 percent of the project, which will require $200,000 in fiscal 2018. The six-year project will allow the runway to extend from 5,500 feet to 6,300 feet.
Several other projects in the airport’s master plan also cleared a hurdle with the FAA approval, including a $1.8 million fuel farm, a 10,000-square-foot corporate storage hangar and an access road to a nearby fire station.
“We are at capacity for storage of large aircraft,” Driscoll said, adding that there are about a dozen large aircraft currently at the airport.