LAKE CLEAR — An increase in passengers, infrastructure development and added Army helicopter training capped a busy year at Adirondack Regional Airport.
At the same time, Cape Air is adding a fifth daily flight to Boston this summer, and more community events at the facility are being planned for the coming year.
A recent presentation to Franklin County legislators by Airport Manager Corey Hurwitch detailed the advances and improvements made in 2012 and anticipated changes coming this year.
The airport saw its fourth year of steady growth in total passengers last year, serving 11,810 people in 2012 compared to 11,511 in 2011.
That’s an increase of more than 2,400 passengers for Cape Air service to Boston since 2009.
FIFTH DAILY FLIGHT
Hurwitch said the airline is adding a fifth daily flight to Logan International Airport this summer to accommodate demand.
“These are unsubsidized flights that are helping us gain passengers,” he said.
Adirondack Regional Airport handles small-engine aircraft up to Boeing 757s and has seen an increase in private jets using the 6,573-foot runway, he said.
Winter maintenance of that runway was a challenge until the facility purchased a $622,000 snow blower, which can toss 5,000 tons of snow 200 feet per hour.
That much muscle pushes snow piles back farther off the runway and reduces blowback to improve safety for pilots, Hurwitch said.
A grant from the Federal Aviation Administration paid 95 percent of the cost, the state kicked in 2.5 percent, and the airport covered 2.5 percent, or roughly $16,000, he said.
Hurwitch sold the old 1980s snow blower for $26,000, so the facility actually made money on the deal and has an upgraded machine to use.
Infrastructure development was also completed through a state grant in 2012, when shovel-ready sites were created, he said.
“We put in the utilities — electric, cable and telephone, septic system and water,” Hurwitch said.
Using the airport property this way was a change in mission from a previous goal of building a general-aviation terminal then attempting to lease those new hangars, he said.
There is space enough to build up to six hangars where the new infrastructure hookups are in place, depending on size.
And an extra aircraft ramp can be constructed to serve those new tenants, he said.
MORE JET-FUEL SOLD
The Lake Clear site recently hosted training for pilots with the 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry from the U.S. Army installation at Fort Drum, which took delivery of a new model of Black Hawk helicopters in 2012.
Hurwitch said that in addition to the goodwill of having the training at the airport, fuel sales increased, which brings more sales-tax revenue to the county.
He said jet-fuel purchases were up 15,000 gallons from 2011.
The new maintenance shop on the airfield and stabilizing workforce turnover also contributed to a better year at the airport, and ongoing apron improvements will allow heavier planes to land, he said.
The annual Pumpkin Festival fundraiser hosted by North Country Life Flight was a success and is expected to return this year with even more attractions and activities for families, Hurwitch said.
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