With the rise of a special opportunity, the Fort Scott Municipal Airport may see an increase in traffic as well as in the size of the airport in upcoming years.
For some time, airport director Kenny Howard has made efforts to grow the local airport in order to attract more traffic and bring new revenue to the city and county, but was always forced to wait because of lack of city funding and not meeting Federal Aviation Administration requirements for FAA grants.
But during the Fort Scott City Commission’s meeting Tuesday night, City Manager Dave Martin, Economic Development Direct Rachel Pruitt and Howard presented what Martin referred to as an “exciting” and “scary” opportunity for the city.
Pruitt said a key part of aviation is maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, an industry growing in size and importance in the country as such companies work with airports to provide repairs for jets such as those that fly into Fort Scott.
One of those companies, Spectra jet, Inc., out of Springfield, Ohio, has expressed interest in expanding their company to include a station at Fort Scott. But for that to be a possibility, Fort Scott would have to commit to a runway expansion in order to be able to house the Learjet and Challenger models Spectra services.
“It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for us,” Pruitt said, saying already they have heard of individuals interested in bringing a restaurant to the airport, while additional hangars and a pilot’s lounge could also be added.
“This would be a great opportunity for our community,” Howard said of the expansion and the attraction it would be to other businesses.
Pruitt said she is already looking into state and federal grants the city could pursue since the expansion would bring about an economic impact on the city as well as the airport.
During the meeting, the commission approved a master agreement with Olsson Associates and a work order of $43,000 for the initial steps of allowing them to complete topographical and other surveys to determine what will need to be done at the airport in preparation for such an expansion.
Diane Hofer, airport program leader for Olsson Associates, said they have done many other airport projects such as this.
“It’s definitely a good industry to bring into town,” Hofer said of the possible expansion and addition.
If the city commits to the runway expansion, Spectra could bring their business to the area even before the project is complete, servicing jets currently able to use the runway.