Survey set, SARA invites traffic

Published 1:33 am Friday, August 19, 2016

South Alabama Regional Airport Co-Director Jed Blackwell is asking for all local pilots to fly in and out of the airport during an allotted time in October.

Blackwell said he has requested an air traffic control assessment that will be held Oct. 22 – Oct. 28.

Blackwell, who for confidentiality reasons is withholding the entity’s name that will conduct the assessment, said that they will come to the airfield in October and place a mobile tower there for the assessment.

Blackwell said that if SARA has the numbers, which he said needs to be between 150-200 operations per day, then they could potentially meet the qualifications for a T-1 tower.

Blackwell said the airport has been without air traffic control for around four years.

“Nearly four years,” he said. “It closed due to lightning damage to the equipment.”

Star-News archives show that an unlucky lightning strike in 2011, paired with federal budget cuts, made the military decide to stop providing air traffic control services locally.

The air traffic control tower and ground-control approach radar, which was due to be upgraded in 2012, was hit by lightning in September 2011.

The airport is already reporting increased numbers of traffic, as well as increased fuel sales.

In fact, year to date revenue for military fuel sales is $1.78 million, which is greatest than the $1.61 million budgeted for this time of year.

Civilian fuel sales are $138,703, which is more than the $121,458 budgeted for the same time period.