Chadron Municipal Airport is poised for a future which might include scheduled intra-state airline service, regional airport authorities and more jet traffic.
Chadron City Council recently approved a partially-grant funded $85,000 resurfacing and remarking project on the runways. The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized installation of a high-tech instrument landing system and the area would be one of the prime targets for location of intrastate airline service if the state becomes involved.
Meeting at the airport last week, members of the Nebraska Futures, Inc., recommended establishment of regional airport authorities to help fund the expenses of airport operations like Chadron, which is currently borne entirely by city taxpayers.
The Nebraska Futures recommendations also included formation of a Nebraska Airline Authority which has advanced to second round of debate in the Unicameral.
A priority bill sponsored by Sen. Sandy Scofield of Chadron would create the authority to help the state plan for a future which might include intra-state air service from more remote regions connecting with the state’s population centers.
“Planning for future air service in Nebraska not only helps us avoid further loss of transportation services, but can create opportunities for every Nebraska citizen to travel easily and quickly around the state,” said Sen. Scofield.
The bill creates the authority and orders it to conduct a market and needs analysis of existing air service and make recommendations for a funding mechanism for development of an intra-state commercial airline.
The Chadron airport will be getting its instrument landing system installed later this year and it should be operational by next spring, according to City Manager Carl Dierks.
Dierks said he had heard that the system which Chadron will be getting was previously in use at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.
The runway resurfacing and remarking effort is a required part of the ILS installation.
Recent installation of a jet fuel tank at the aiport has paid off in new business for Chadron, according to airport manager Les Mittleider. He said hundreds of gallons of jet fuel have already been sold and the airport, which is out of heavy traffic areas, makes an attractive refueling stop for cross country aircraft.
Dirt work being conducted at the airport is part of an effort to meet federal height standards around the runways, according to Dierks. Land near the main runway was one and a half feet too high and city crews have been grading the area down to meet standards.