A state plan for the future of air travel in Vermont calls for upgrades at each of the Northeast Kingdom’s three airports.
Agency of Transportation officials released a draft of the updated Vermont Airport System Plan in December and held a public hearing on the proposal March 24. The plan, which maps out the next 20 years for the state’s 16 public airports, hadn’t been updated since 2007.
Officials are scheduled to present the plan in late June to the state Aviation Advisory Council. The public comment period ended this month.
The top priorities for the Kingdom’s three airports: extending the runway at Caledonia County Airport in Lyndon, building a basic terminal building and shelter at John H. Boylan State Airport in Island Pond, and installing landing technology to guide pilots at Northeast Kingdom International Airport in Coventry.
Caledonia County Airport, which sits atop Pudding Hill in Lyndon, has one of the state’s shortest paved runways — about 3,300 feet in length. That length falls well below the 5,000-foot minimum requirement for the airport’s category, according to the state plan.
A top priority in the short term, officials said, is extending the runway to at least 4,000 feet. Officials eventually want to see the runway extended to 5,000 feet, along with construction of a terminal building with amenities for visitors.
The agency is also proposing a full-time manager and operation staff, self-service fuel for commercial planes, and a fixed-based operator — a company that would provide aviation services such as hangaring and maintenance.
Caledonia County, which the report forecasts as a low-growth airport, employs three people directly and has a direct economic impact of $277,500.
John H. Boylan State Airport in Island Pond, home to the only state-owned turf runway, is the lowest rated airport in the state system. It is unattended, and few aircrafts are based there.
“John H. Boylan State (and several other small airports) all have a need for a basic shelter/terminal building, and at least seasonal, part-time management on-site would be of value for John H. Boylan State,” the plan said.
The plan also recommends installing fuel services at John H. Boylan, along with on-site weather reporting technology. The airport brings in about $36,300 in direct economic impact, according to the plan.
At Northeast Kingdom International in Coventry, the proposal calls for only one upgrade at what is expected to be a high-growth facility. Officials want the airport to offer precision approach — a type of technology that helps guide pilots vertically and laterally while landing.
“While no (state system) airport is required to have a precision approach … the low number of (system) airports offering precision approaches (three) indicates a need,” the authors of the plan wrote.
Runway length is a primary consideration for choosing which airports are best for the technology, and of the options, Northeast Kingdom International has the longest at 5,300 feet, the report said.
The runway was extended by 1,000 feet in 2015, after receiving about $9 million in state and federal funds.
The airport yields $277,500 in direct economic impact and 11 direct jobs, according to the report.
The public comment period for the draft plan ended April 8, and the aviation council met April 13. Because of a lack of a quorum, the council did not make any decisions on the proposal, according to Amy Tatko, spokesperson for the Agency of Transportation.
After the council makes a recommendation, Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn will decide whether to approve the proposal, Tatko said.
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