Longer runway a path to growth
The plan to build a longer runway at Rock Airport and Business Park is the right idea, according to several aviation experts.
The question is whether the current owner, Rock Ferrone, or another owner will shepherd the project.
Currently, the 3,550-foot runway is used mainly for small personal and corporate planes. Ferrone is proposing a 5,000-foot runway, which he included in his original plans for the combination airport/airpark.
“We need to have 5,000 feet to bring the jets in,” Ferrone said. “They won't come in unless they have 5,000-plus feet.”
And 5,000 feet is the “magic number” for corporate jet business, said Sara Walfoort, transportation planning manager for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.
The use of aircraft for business is growing, said Robert Rockmaker, executive director of the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania, a membership group of airports, charter operators, repair companies, flight schools and suppliers.
“The number of business jets is projected to grow at about 1.7 percent a year for the next two decades,” said Rockmaker.
Speaking about Rock Airport, Walfoort said it is “strategically located in an area lacking capability of accommodating small jets.”
A 2002 statewide airport system plan published by the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aviation agreed.
“Do we have a market? We presume we do,” said Walfoort. “But if we don't have a 5,000-foot runway, we won't know.”
Building and financing a runway expansion typically entails a number of studies and approvals from the FAA and the state.
“It's not a quick process,” Rockmaker said.
Time from planning to a runway ribbon-cutting can be from five to 10 years or longer, according to Rockmaker.
That's the case with the Butler County Airport in Penn Township, which is trying to expand its 4,801-foot runway to 5,000 feet.
According to Ivan Longdon, airport manager, the expansion is for the “sizeable market” of corporate aircraft from Marcellus shale projects.
“It's probably a 10- to 15-year process to get all the studies done and approval from FAA,” Longdon said.
”It's a long and tiring process,” he said. “Sometimes it can wear on you. But if you want it, you got stick with it.”
Ferrone said that he's already put time into securing some critical approvals.
But he won't be able to fully pursue the expansion until he emerges from bankruptcy.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh man taken for wild ride on Route 28
- Arnold fireman falls from truck
- Freeport High School students rise to the challenge
- Traffic to tighten with closure of Freeport Road lane for crossing Hulton Bridge
- Mia Z voices no regrets after failing to advance on NBC show
- New Kensington-Arnold School District addresses bullying concerns
- Alle-Kiski seniors attend Walk the Red Carpet event
- Suspect admits to arson in Harrison