By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – For years, it was believed that as many as 23,000 takeoffs and landings happened annually at the Albert S. Nader Regional Airport since the 1980s.
In reality, said Zach Staff, McFarland-Johnson Consulting’s regional aviation planning manager, research for an updated airport master plan found annual takeoffs and landings over the last 30 years really averaged about 4,600.
“People would go with the old number and it was just gathered by word of mouth,” said Staff.
Staff and Turner Bradford, senior engineer for the Binghamton-based firm, presented the updated data to Common Council this evening.
For starters, they said, the master plan had not been updated since the 1980s and needed to be so it complied with current Federation Aviation Administration standards. They also said having the plan updated was necessary for the city to continue receiving FAA grants.
“A lot has changed in how the FAA regulates airports and how facilities are designed. We need to ensure the airport is designed for current standards,” said Staff.
However, the two consultants said they predict “fairly steady growth” of the airport over the next 20 years. Currently, about 6,400 small aircraft take off and land in Oneonta’s airport each year. They predict over the next 20 years that will rise to 11,000.
To facilitate that growth, Bradford recommended design upgrades within a 10 to 20 year period. An important one was the construction of “a full parallel taxiway to get aircraft off the runway as soon as possible.” They said the current one is inadequate in that regard, and is a critical aspect of a smoothly operating airport.
The two consultants also recommended building a 4,800-foot extension for the runway in the long-term. To receive FAA funds for the extension, the city would first need to justify the use of a runway of that length or have commitments from users who would use the runway. They also recommended two T-hangars be built in the next 10 years.
They also spoke of a key business opportunity: the Oneonta airport could become an aircraft storage place.
“New York City airports are so congested that there is not enough hangar space,” Staff said. “People are looking for hangars in airports upstate to store their aircraft.”