• 57°

Runway work completed, airport back in business

Brookhaven Municipal Airport reopened Wednesday for air trafficafter being closed more than five weeks for renovation.

Airport Manager Boyce Bullock said he was pleased to reopen theairport around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. By 3 p.m., it was alreadyreceiving traffic.

“I am glad to have it reopened. They worked hard and put in somelong hours to get it reopened this quickly,” he said. “It looksvery nice.”

The airport was closed April 12 for a $441,341 project tooverlay the 5,000-feet long, 75-feet wide runway.

The runway project also included overlaying the exit ramps, taxilanes and restriping the renovated areas.

“They’ve got everything overlaid and repainted, so we called theFederal Aviation Administration and got their approval to reopen,”Bullock said. “The FAA has to approve it any time an airportcloses, and it also takes their approval to reopen an airport.”

The project was completed relatively on schedule by Dickersonand Bowen, who was awarded the bid in December 2003.

“We really didn’t have a date to have it done, but we wanted itdone in about five weeks, so it was pretty much on schedule,”Bullock said.

A separate, but related, project was also completed while theairport was closed, Bullock said. Funds received through an FAAgrant were used to construct a fence around the airport’sperimeter.

Paul Barnett, chairman of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County AirportAdvisory Board, said he was present when the airport was officiallyreopened. He greeted the first resident officially returning hisaircraft to the airport.

Most private owners of aircraft at the airport had moved them toother airports so they could continue to operate them during therenovation, he said. They are now in the process of returning thoseaircraft to the airport.

Barnett said his aircraft had been operating out of Jackson.

“It’s been a burden from the standpoint of operation becauseit’s hard to drive to Jackson and then make your flights, but thebenefits of the new runway far outweigh those considerations,” hesaid. “It’s a tremendous improvement for the operation of aircraftin and out of there.”

The old runway had seen heavy use, and gravel, rocks and sand onthe runway were damaging propellers over an extended period.

“A propeller would look like it had hundreds of hours on it wellbefore its time,” Barnett said. “That’s no longer a concern withthe new paving. That’s a tremendous maintenance concern lifted frompilots.”

A new propeller can cost approximately $10,000, he said.

The renovations also included a new Precision Approach PathIndicator (PAPI).

Barnett described PAPI as a “visual aid landing device. It’smostly beneficial at night because it uses lights to tell the pilotwhere he is in his approach, whether too high, too low or right inthe path; but it does still help during the day.”

Other improvements at the airport could be seen by the end ofthe year.

The airport has been approved for an Automated Surface ObservingSystem (ASOS) “that will provide 24-hour weather observations atthe airport. That is very important, especially on a non-towerfield like Brookhaven,” he said.

ASOS provides up-to-the-minute weather information to a pilot onapproach, such as wind speed and cross-winds, that could effect hislanding or take-off.