Florala airport project starts Nov. 5

Published 12:03 am Saturday, October 20, 2012

Work will begin Nov. 5 on the first infrastructure project at the Florala Municipal Airport in recent years.

Fund-ing for the project comes from the Federal Aviation Admin-istration, the Alabama Department of Transportation and local funds. Michelle Hunter, project engineer, with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood in Andalusia, said the $536,716 will be spent to renovate and rehabilitate the 3,200-foot runway and 15,000 square yards of apron.

“What will happen is we’re doing a runway overlay and apron rehabilitation with airfield lighting,” Hunter said. “This is a 180-calendar day project that will bring the facility back to where it needs to be. When this project is finished, things will be in excellent condition and make it safer for any aircraft that needs to come in to land and to taxi.”

Last year, a renegotiated lease with the airport’s only tenant – Sunshine Aero – allowed the board to take advantage of annual Federal Aviation Administration allocations, as well as to collect rent by Sunshine Aero based on fuel flowage per gallon sold and rent on the land and buildings.

The airport sits on a 10-acre site located on U.S. Hwy. 331.

“Since this is first year the airport can receive FAA funding, this is kind of maintenance year to get the pavement and lighting up to standards,” Hunter said. “It gets us ready to start to improving and growing the airport in the future.”

The 3,200-foot runway will get a new 1½-inch overlay of asphalt and new striping. The site’s apron will also be rehabilitated with a new protective layer, as will two connecting taxiways. On big component to the project is a state-of-the-art runway lighting system, Hunter said.

“It means that we can have night landings,” she said. “A pilot will be able to call in on his radio and turn lights on automatically. We had lights before, but not the kind set up that could be turned on from the air. This is big.”

Work is ongoing on a 20-year comprehensive plan with staff from the city, the FAA and ALDOT to grow the airport, Hunter said.

“The goal is an extension to a 5,000-foot runway, new hangars and a new terminal building so that there is an area for growth and business to come,” Hunter said. Comparatively, the South Alabama Regional Airport in Sanford has a 6,000-foot runway, she said. “The 5,000 foot runway gives the length needed to land most larger, corporate aircraft at the airport. Right now, the current runway really limits the aviation pilots that can utilize it because of their aircraft’s size. So, this project is a big step toward that goal.