An extension of the runway of the Jake Arner Memorial Airport in Mahoning Township could potentially lead to luring an industry into the area and thus create some jobs.
The runway project is the only major improvement recommended for the airport over the next 20 years.
Yesterday, a planning consultant unveiled the airport's "Layout Plan & Narrative Report," which details anticipated usage of the airport over the next two decades.
The report was prepared by L. R. Kimball Inc. of Harrisburg.
Also recommended besides the extended runway is the construction of new corporate hangars.
The report was first unveiled at a meeting of the Airport Advisory Council, consisting of Airport Authority members and officials of Carbon County communities, then during a public information session during which work stations were set up and airport officials were available to answer questions or explain specifics of the report.
Present were Ron Morris of L. R. Kimball; Paul Smith, chairman of the Airport Authority; several authority members; pilot representative Dick Noll; and two representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Morris said it is recommended that the airport runway be increased by 425 feet, with 255 feet added to one end and 170 feet added at the other end. The biggest hurdle to this extension will be man-made wetlands.
"You wouldn't have to acquire any land for the runway extension, but you would have to obtain land or easements for the airport protection zone at both ends," Morris remarked.
Smith said such easements already exist.
It was stressed by Smith that extending the runway would not accommodate any larger aircraft than what's already using the airport. However, certain aircraft presently can't operate safely at gross weight, meaning they can only hold a lesser amount of fuel and then must re-fuel somewhere else. The larger runway would allow such aircraft to operate with a full load of fuel.
"It's all about money," said Smith, commenting that some corporations might not consider the local airport because it doesn't pay to have to make another stop a short distance away for fuel.
Smith said an example of such a plane is the Citation, a very light, twin-engine jet.
Officials said that extending the runway would make the airport more inviting to firms which potentially consider locating in the region. By being able to land corporate planes at bulk load, it could give the county an advantage for luring such companies.
It was noted the airport has no specific plans at the present time for the runway expansion.
In the report, Morris said that unless some major corporation would locate in the region, he doesn't anticipate a major increase in airport usage over the next 20 years.
His projections show that in 2012, there are 36 aircraft housed at the airport, including 29 single engine planes. By the year 2032, he expects there will be 56 planes, including 39 single engine planes.
Presently there are no turbo prop planes, but Morris estimates by 2032, there will be three that use the Jake Arner Memorial Airport as their home base.
In 2012 there are 13,243 local operations at the airport, which is likely to increase to 16,287 local operations by 2032.