By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
The third and final segment of the Fairmont Municipal-Frankman Field Airport’s taxiway project is now complete.
According to Tom Mainella, chairman of the Fairmont Airport Authority, the airport’s taxiway was previously located too close to the runway, so a replacement taxiway needed to be constructed.
“The taxiway was so close to the center line of the runway, that if somebody was landing or taking off and lost control, if there was an airplane on the taxiway, they could collide,” Mainella said.
With the recent improvements, that risk is decreased.
“It will be a much safer environment with the taxiway moved away from the runway,” Mainella said. “It’s just part of the overall safety and improvement of the airport.”
The Federal Aviation Administration provided the City of Fairmont and the Fairmont Airport Authority with $733,776 in funds for the project.
According to Mainella, a portion of the project’s funding also came from the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission. The commission derives funding through the taxation of aviation fuel sales. That money is then distributed based on need to various airports throughout the state and is to be used for airport improvement projects.
Mountaineer Contractors, Inc., out of Kingwood, completed the third phase of the taxiway project. Mainella said the first phase was completed in 2009 and the second phase in 2012.
In addition to the construction of the new taxiway, a new, 16-plane hangar was also built along with a road that provides access to the hangar. That project was completed in August.
According to Mainella, the new, $910,000 hangar replaces an older one that was in poor condition and was located too close to the taxiway and had to be demolished.
“The funding for the hangar comes from the Airport Authority,” Mainella said. “We borrowed the money to build the hangar and lease it to 16 pilots who own those airplanes and pay us rent monthly.”
Mainella said there is a total of 38 planes that are based at the general aviation airport.
“This is a pretty busy general aviation airport,” Mainella said. “It gets a lot of use by people who fly in for business and pleasure plus people who are based here.”
In addition, Leading Edge LLC, a business which teaches people to fly, performs mechanical work and sells fuel, is also located at the airport.
Mainella said that all of the improvements done to the facility are completed with safety in mind and that the enhanced facility will allow the airport to better serve its clients.
Mainella said the funding for the taxiway was part of an airport-improvement plan which designates when funding will be available and what it will be used for. Next year, Mainella expects that money will be allocated for the installation of security fencing at the south end of the airport.
“Next year we will be continuing to try to fence the entire property,” Mainella said. “We’re also looking into some other safety-related things like an automated weather-observing system. That’s something that we’re looking at later
down the road to have installed.”
Over the past several years, a number of other improvement projects have been completed, including a ramp that provides tie-down space for planes, the resurfacing of the runway and replacement of the facility’s lighting.
“We’ve done a lot of improvements here over the last 10 years,” Mainella said. “We’ve got good support from the FAA and the state aeronautics commission, and we’re very appreciative of that.”
Email Kaylyn Christopher at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.