On Wednesday, August 30, ND Senator Heitkamp announced that Langdon, Wahpeton, and Hillsboro airports will receive federal grant money totaling over $1.32 million dollars.
Posted on 9/8/17
By Lisa Nowatzki
The grant money is slated to help improve the airports’ infrastructures.
According to a news release by Senator Heitkamp, the Langdon Municipal Airport Authority will receive $65,000 to “rehabilitate the runway lighting and the exit taxiway lighting systems.”
Hillsboro Municipal Airport Authority will receive $300,000, in addition to the $4,200,000 already slated to be invested in the infrastructure upgrades, to help repair the airport’s runway and runway lighting.
Wahpeton Airport Authority is in line to receive $962,442 to help with the construction costs of building 500 feet of the exit taxiway pavement and 1,100 feet of the hangar taxiway pavement.
All federal dollars come from a grant through the U. S. Department of Transportation through the Essential Air Service (EAS). EAS connects rural and remote areas to major hubs, helping small business and creating jobs in rural areas. Senator Heitkamp has been fighting to make sure air services continue to airports across North Dakota through continued funding of the (EAS) program.
The grant money earmarked for the Langdon airport is the first step in a long process to update the lighting system at the airport. The $65,000 will cover the engineering cost of the lighting design and feasibility study.
According to Jeff Schneider of the Langdon Airport Authority, the engineers have to make sure that the lighting design for the airport meets the U. S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards.
The improvement of the current lighting system will be extensive. The airport lights are over 30 years old. They must meet FAA standards for the airport to continue to serve the community.
Keeping the airport open and safe is an ongoing project. Last year, in July 2016, the Langdon Municipal Airport Authority received $627,462 in federal grant money. The funding was provided to support the repair and maintenance of the runway and taxiway.
The grant helped cover the cost of the rehabilitation of 3,600 feet of runway to maintain the structural integrity of the pavement and minimize foreign object debris. The monies also helped cover the mill and overlay construction of the runway.
Langdon Municipal Airport covered $34,859 of the 2016 runway construction with the FAA covering 90 percent of the project totaling $697,462. The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and the Langdon Municipal Airport Authority each covered five percent.
The importance of a community airport that is up-to-date, safe, and meets and complies with all FAA standards cannot be overlooked nor overstated.
The current airport is rated for general aviation use. Most important to the community and Cavalier County is the emergency medical services the airport brings in.
The airport has to remain compliant with FAA regulations and standards for emergency air services to remain available to the community. According to Schneider, several updates to the airport have been made in the past to ensure medi-evac, air ambulance, and life-flight services continue to be available to the community.
One update made concerns the weather. All air ambulance services need to know the ground weather. To keep current with the weather conditions at the airport, a new system was installed, the Airport Weather Advisor® or AWA system. The advisor system is a complete Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) capable of meteorological reporting for any size airport and AWA is FAA certified.
The airport also installed a GPS approach system to aid medi-evac planes to land.
Both the AWA and the GPS systems were required updates to keep the emergency medical flights and air ambulance services available to the community.
Schneider said, “Besides GPS and AWA services, the airport is also in need of updated snow removal equipment.” Currently, when an emergency medi-evac flight calls the airport, the airport crew has about twenty minutes to remove the snow on the runway in order for the flight to land. In the past, Airport Authority Committee members and volunteers have been called on to clear snow from the runway before emergency medical flights could land.
Updating the snow removal equipment will be a goal in the future.