Upgrades planned for Ozark's airport - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Upgrades planned for Ozark's airport

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting (Source: WSFA 12 News) Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Stephanie Blankenship (Source: WSFA 12 News) Stephanie Blankenship (Source: WSFA 12 News)
OZARK, AL (WSFA) -

The Ozark Airport Blackwell Field is expecting to start another round of upgrades, according to the mayor.

The city submitted an airport layout plan to the Alabama Aeronautics Bureau and it includes plans to build hangars for corporate planes, jets, and eventually T-hangars for general aviation aircraft.

"This will make our airport better, to bring more airplanes in there for their home base. We're starting with one hangar because that's really all the city can afford," said Mayor Bob Bunting.

The goal is to eventually build three T-hangars. If the bureau approves the plans, the next step would be getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The newly reinstated Airport Advisory Board made up of current and former pilots helped put the airport layout plan together. The decision was made to start with one T-hangar partly because of cost, but also because it was something that could be checked off the to-do list quickly.

"We're going to see some fruits of our labor in a year's time - a revenue-producing part of it," said Bunting.

The three hangars cost roughly $450,000 and If the FAA approves the plan, the city will get a grant from the state to cover half the costs. The rest will be paid for by the city.

The mayor says they will use pilots storage fees to help cover the costs of the hangars. They're also hoping the county will help with prep work for construction to cut down on overall costs.

Right now, there is a private T-hangar on the airport's property and it is full. Other aircraft at the airport sit on the apron. Each new hangar will hold 10 planes, and there is already a waiting list for the first hangar that will be built. The mayor says there is an obvious need for more storage, but he hopes this will draw people and money to the area.

"Somebody has their aircraft here. They may even consider moving here. If their airplane is here they may consider doing business here," said Bunting. "There are a lot of economic development opportunities when you bring in aircraft. Some of the people who have spoke for the position, their aircraft is somewhere else and they want to bring it here."

More planes at the airport will increase air traffic and the city hopes that means more pilots using their new fuel farm.

"It increases our traffic, but also increases our fuel flow. When we get tenants to come in it keeps our fuel prices competitive," said Stephanie Blakenship, director of aviation services.

The mayor says the earliest the hangars could be ready is between May or June of 2018 and the latest would be August or September of 2018.

The mayor says he feels strongly that the FAA will approve the plan, but as a backup, they will consider using entitlement money generated from gas sales taxes to go towards paying for the T-hangars.

The city is hoping to get approval in November.

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