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Having a 5,000-foot runway will enable the local airport to accept larger, heavier aircraft, according to Dave Kushner, the airport director.
“Five thousand feet is somewhat of a magic number for certain classes of aircraft — corporate jets that may be heavier,” Kushner said. “The longer the runway the better … it increases our safety factor for aircraft departing and landing.”
The airport will remain open while the work is being done. As a safety precaution, temporary markings have been painted on the runway to inform pilots of a slight change to landing, Kushner said.
The Greene County Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport is home to 72 aircraft, including 62 single-engine airplanes, nine multiple engine airplanes and one helicopter, according to AirNav.com. The daily average for aircraft operations, which entails takeoffs and landings, is 117 at the airport, according to the website.
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Ninety one percent of the daily aircraft operations at the Greene County airport are for local flights, and 9 percent is from aircraft coming from out-of-town.
Even though the work to extend the runway will be finished next month, the extra space won’t be opened until it gets approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, which, because of a backlog of assignments, is scheduled to test the new feature in November, Kushner said.
“It will open a lot of opportunities for us to allow more corporate aircraft to come in here. That ultimately fuels economic development,” he said.
The commissioners approval of this expenditure has drawn criticism.
Yellow Springs resident Dorothée Bouquet said commissioners keep “throwing tax dollars at the airport, but they have yet to prove that it is creating or will create jobs.
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“From where we stand, it looks like the commissioners divert public money to pay for private use, Bouquet said. “If only the commissioners used the same return-on-investment metrics on the airport as they did to justify the cutting of the family resource center budget.”