Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Congressional delegation must act on runway issue

Editorial

Source: The News Journal

October 23, 2010

The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to largely fund a 500-foot expansion of the main runway at Sussex County Airport, a project that is expected to cost $5 million. But a 500-foot expansion is not enough to meet the county's economic development needs. For that, a 1,000-foot expansion is required.

The FAA's decision this summer to deny funding for the larger expansion is a catch-22. The FAA says there aren't enough flights of larger planes into the airport to justify the 1,000-foot extension. But a booming business at the airport that customizes airplane interiors needs the longer runway to bring in the bigger 757s and Gulf 3 jets to work on.

PATS Aircraft Systems remodels large private aircraft for celebrities, foreign leaders and corporations. The company employs more than 400 workers locally, and despite a lousy economy, business is thriving.

The existing 5,000-foot runway can handle the landing requirements of those 757s, but some insurance companies require planes on their policies to land on runways of at least 6,000 feet.

Another hurdle: A 1,000-foot runway expansion will require the relocation of a road that borders the airport. That will cost an estimated $20 million more.

This is a clear case for Delaware's congressional delegation, preferably the one that's on board now, before Rep. Mike Castle and Sen. Ted KAUFMAN leave office. This is an economic development issue that is financially crucial to Sussex County.

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