Airport presents new master plan at public forum

Friday, December 13, 2002

Business Today

If everything goes according to the plan, the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport will endure something like a yoga session in the next 20 years.

A master plan calls for the airport to stretch, expand and become more flexible for passenger and cargo flights as well as general aviation.

The plan was submitted by the city for public input at an open house in late November at the Osage Community Centre.

The plan is suggesting some major changes: Extending the primary runway from 6,500 feet to 7,000 feet to accommodate new types of aircraft, specifically Boeing 737s, which can be used as moderately sized cargo airplanes.

Extending the crosswind runway from 4,000 to 5,000 feet.

Expanding the passenger terminal to accommodate enhanced security and provide space for a second air carrier.

Purchasing 126 acres of land to the northwest of the airport for future facility development.

Developing remaining space in the existing terminal area by constructing corporate aircraft hangers.

Constructing a fire station at the airport and a snow-removal equipment storage facility.

"If we did all this in the next 20 years, that would mean things would be going really well for the airport," said airport manager Bruce Loy.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires that development projects at airports be part of an approved airport layout plan.

Representatives from the engineering firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. that assisted the city with the plans underscored the northwest land acquisition as a major component of the airport's development as well as the need for additional hangars for corporate aircraft.

In the northwest expansion, the plans call for infrastructure that would provide accessibility to cargo planes, including taxiways and storage and maintenance facilities.

"There isn't a whole lot of cargo operations going on right now," said Mike Pozsgay, an airport engineer with the firm. "There has been some interest in the past and we think this plan will possibly stimulate that interest." Pozsgay pointed out that the airport's location - near a river, a railway, an industrial park and an interstate - should make it a prime location for more cargo operations.

Neil Ralston, an airport planner with the firm, said the projects have not yet been prioritized, but he thought the airport's most urgent need is to build more hangars for corporate planes due to an increasing demand.

Loy has had several requests for hangar space and said the airport needs more. The demand is already there for more hangars, Loy said, but the airport would need a company to commit to 500 freight-related takeoffs or landings per year before it could provide proof that it needed cargo infrastructure improvements. The federal government, which funds 90 percent of many of the airport's projects, requires justification before it approves a project.

No cost estimates have been attached to any of the projects yet.

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