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|Interest in airport growing with upgrades; More than $2 invested in facility|
Almost $2 million dollars have been spent to upgrade the Concordia Parish Airport near Vidalia in recent years giving the facility not only a face-lift, but also modernizing all facets of the operation.
In addition, the facility has a waiting list of people wanting hangar space.
"We're growing," says Carl Sayers, now in his third year as chairman of the Airport Authority. "We've got a good airport and we're making good progress."
"When I started we implemented a five-year budget," said Sayers. "We are right in line with that."
In 2002, the runway, taxiway and aprons were overlaid at a cost of $579,947, while in this year the lighting system has been revamped in a $683,842 project. Many other improvements have also been completed.
"Although the aviation economy is down in general, we are ready for anything that comes along in the future," Sayers said. "We want the airport to provide the service it's supposed to and to provide for future economic growth."
He noted, "This is the first thing anybody with any money is going to see flying in."
Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said Sayers and the airport board have "done an outstanding job upgrading the airport and turning it into a fine facility. This is a good for business now and good for future business."
Sayers said the Concordia Parish Airport is the closest airport to Vidalia, Ferriday and Natchez, located within six miles of all three towns. The airport is also located within two miles of the Vidalia Industrial Park and the newly-proposed Vidalia Dock & Marina.
He provided the following facts on the present state of the facility:
The airport has adequate (year 2003) asphalt surfaces on its 3750 ft. runway, all taxiways and main aprons and runway markings that are in excellent condition.
The airport is a day/night VFR airport. The runway edge lighting was replaced with modern new equipment in 2008. The new equipment includes all underground wiring, conduit system, wiring vaults, lighting fixtures, concrete pads, climate controlled electrical vault, lighted Wind Tee and Wind Cone and lighted runway identifier signs. The main taxi way has been equipped with centerline reflectors.
Runway edge lighting is operated dusk to dawn at low intensity. The system can be activated by remote pilot controlled equipment which also enables the intensity to be raised while taking off or landing operations.
A new Precision Approach (PAPI) system was installed in 2008 on R/W 14/32 and it is operated on a 24-hour basis. Power is routed to the PAPI through the new electrical vault on a separate protected circuit.
A new Runway End Identifier Lighting System (REIL) was installed in 2008 on R/W 14/32. It operates disk to dawn on low intensity in conjunction with the runway lights until higher intensity levels are activated by remote pilot control. Power is routed to the REIL through the new electrical vault on a separate protected circuit.
The airport beacon is in excellent working order. The beam is adjusted to three degrees up angle to keep it out of local housing. Power is routed to the beacon through the new electrical vault on a separate protected circuit.
The Wind Cone mounting is in excellent working order and includes obstruction and sock lighting. Power is routed to the Wind Cone through the new electrical vault on a separate protected circuit.
The Wind-Tee in is in excellent working order, all lights work and it was recently re-painted. Power is routed to the Wind-Tee through the new electrical vault on a separate protected circuit.
The airport security fencing and gates are in good condition and adequately marked. The airport completed installation of an automatic slide gate with code reader at front entrance in 2006 purchased with a 100% State DOT Grant.
The airport grounds are routinely kept mowed and trimmed by contract personnel, airport board members and the Police Jury crews.
The airport terminal building in very good condition and offers 24-hour access to restrooms for pilots, crew members and passengers. Amenities include a courtesy car, free maps, magazines, bottled water and access to a coin operated soft drink machine.
Recent maintenance/improvements in the terminal building include polishing the floors, repairing fluorescent lighting and A/C Unit, replacing storage room door, broken floor threshold, office carpet, refrigerator, pilot lounge furniture, new prints. The Airport Authority has installed a flagpole, flower beds, new stove, refurbished computer, copy machine, new DVD & VCR player and a television set.
The airport has recently secured $47,800 grant funding to install a 24-hour automated gas pump system for 100LL Aviation Fuel which will allow unattended operation and automatic credit card fuel purchases. This system is scheduled to be in place and operational by the end of July 2008
The Policy Jury has added $15,000 to the Airport Authority budget for 2008 to fund maintenance items to repair and replace siding and window trim, install new gutters, re-stain/paint outside of terminal building.
Most airport maintenance is done through Police Jury employees, Airport Authority members and "Friends of the Airport Volunteers." The airport currently has no employees of its own. Contracts for routine mowing are negotiated each year.
The airport received a new generation Foreign Object Sweeper (FOD Buster) in 2007 through by a State DOT aviation grant. The unit is towed behind a vehicle and picks up debris and small pebbles that may damage aircraft props and engines.
The Louisiana DOT Department of Aviation provides 50 percent reimbursement funding for qualified airport maintenance items up to $4,500 per year. The Airport Authority fully exercises this maintenance reimbursement option.
The airport has a $39,000 budget for year 2008 excluding FAA/DOT grants and receives $13,500 a year as a grant from the Concordia Police Jury for general maintenance use. The Police Jury also pays airport utilities, insurance and taxes.
The airport currently has 14 locally based aircraft and has signed lease agreements with all tenants and all available rental hanger space is taken. Common hanger improvements include new replacement of shop air compressor, installation of outside electrical outlets, and lighting.
A new roof has been installed on the main hanger building and old terminal building. Repairs and improvements were made to the interior which allows for additional rental income and made available for a full time aviation & power plant mechanic or avionics shop.
The airport has three privately built hangers on airport property (5 A/C Capacity) that will revert ownership to the Airport Authority in the year 2024 per executed Airport Use Agreements.
The airport has one privately owned hanger with airport access currently housing three aircraft. All aircraft and tenants are regulated under executed Airport Use Agreements.
The airport completed a major Capital Improvement project in 2007 being the installation of taxiways and hanger access for a single building 10 Bay T-Hanger Unit through 100 percent funded grants from the FAA & DOT in the amount of $490,000. No costs were required of Concordia Parish.
The airport completed two major Capital Improvement project in 2008. The first being a $683,842 runway lighting rehabilitation project 100% funded from the FAA and DOT at no cost to Concordia Parish. The other project was the installation of an Emergency Power Generator which will provide power to all systems including the terminal and fuel system in case of a natural disaster power outage. Funding for the $35,000 cost of this system was provided 100% by the State DOT Aviation Division.
The airport has plans for the installation of a single building 10 bay T-Hanger Unit in the near future. Approximate cost is $450,000 and the Airport Authority's goal is to secure 100% Grant funding.
The Airport has a Notice of Intent letter with 18 individuals indicating their desire to lease an airport owned T-Hanger if one is made available.
Immediate future plans also include refurbishing the main hanger with new lighting and electrical system, installation of two new electric bi-fold doors to replace 28 hanging out-of-date doors and the addition of 4 50/30 AMP R/V power connections.
The airport hosts an active EAA Chapter #912 which members serves a pot-luck/pass-the-hat breakfast to approximately 15 to 20 members and guests each Saturday morning. The EAA also hosts an annual Fly-In in May each year and has numerous meetings and functions in the terminal building and airport grounds throughout the year.
The airport has no known safety related deficiencies.
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