FAA funds airport work

Margaret Allen
Pilot Julius McPherson, right, of Dallas, who flies the UPS flight from Wichita to Hays every Monday through Saturday, hands packages to Dillon Schmidt, left, of Hays, a UPS air driver.

On Tuesday morning at Hays Regional Airport, Hays Aircraft LLC general manager Chris Springer soldered a wire to repair an engine instrument on a customer’s Piper Cherokee 6.

He was aware of the $2.2 million in upgrades the city of Hays has planned in the next year for the airport. The construction will have minimal affect on operations, according to city officials.

Hays Aircraft, the fixed base operator that fuels and repairs aircraft and offers flight lessons, will see a difference when work begins on an asphalt overlay to rehabilitate Airport Fuel Road on the east side of the airport.

“That’s how we get our fuel trucks to the airport, all the deliveries come on that road,” Springer said. “So we’ll be re-routing the trucks to another road.”

Also planned are rehabilitation of the north terminal apron, restriping of some pavement markings on the north terminal apron and the primary runway and a taxiway connector, and a lighting upgrade on a crosswind runway, according to airport director Jamie Salter.

“We’re working with the city to minimize the impact to the customers we serve,” Springer said.

Salter presented the planned improvements to the Hays City Commission last Thursday at its regular work session. The commission will be asked to approve the plans at its regular meeting this Thursday at City Hall, 1507 Main.

Construction will have no impact on the airport’s daily commercial passenger service to and from Denver International Airport, Salter said. It will also be phased to minimally affect aircraft and tenant operations, she said. The Federal Aviation Administration is paying for 100% of the improvements through CARES Act money awarded under the federal government’s COVID-19 response.

Hays Regional Airport has about 34,000 take-offs and landings annually, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

SkyWest’s Bombardier CRJ-200 passenger jet for United Express took off at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday as usual, and there had already been charter flights earlier, Springer said.

“We’ve already had three of those this morning,” he said. “And a UPS aircraft just landed, and there’s been a couple of private aircraft, one that flew in and one that took off.”

Out on the tarmac, pilot Julius McPherson, of Dallas, who flies the UPS flight from Wichita to Hays every Monday through Saturday, was helping unload packages from the UPS charter. Rance Becker, of Plainville, who preloads for UPS, was inside the aircraft handing off packages to McPherson. Loading them onto the UPS truck was Dillon Schmidt, of Hays, a UPS air driver.

McPherson said he delivers about 130 packages per flight each way.

The city commission on Thursday will be asked to:

• Approve a $94,188 contract under a change order with a smaller chip-seal project for Apac-Kansas Inc. to rehabilitate the Airport Fuel Road. That will include a 12-inch storm sewer pipe crossing under the fuel road, grading, asphalt a 2-inch asphalt overlay of the road, and installation of a 20-foot by 45-foot concrete pad at the automatic gate touch pad. Apac would begin work shortly.

• Approve a $1.03 million contract with Vogts Parga Construction to rehabilitate the north terminal apron to fix areas of concrete failure and drainage issues, along with removal and replacement of various pavement markings.

Removal and restriping of pavement markings for the primary Runway 16-34 and Taxiway Connector M1. Portions of the project will be completed during nighttime hours to limit the impact on operating conditions. Assuming the timely award of a grant by the FAA, construction would be completed before the end of 2020. Navigational aids must be turned off and on daily, so the contract includes a reimbursable agreement with the FAA to cover the cost for technical operations personnel to be on site.

• Award a $692,004 bid to upgrade lighting on Crosswind Runway 4-22 to L&S Electric LLC, of Salina. The lighting, completed in 2003, includes direct bury wiring for the runway edge lighting. Salter said direct burial results in premature deterioration of cables, creates high maintenance costs for repair and replacement, and has a shortened lifespan. The runway lighting is nearing the end of its useful service life. Upgrading to a can and conduit system, utilizing LED lighting, will enhance airfield safety while reducing maintenance and energy costs in the future, she said. The FAA has ranked this project as a priority.

The project also requires a reimbursable agreement with FAA technical operations to turn off and on the runway navigational aids during construction.

Hays Aircraft general manager Chris Springer repairs a customer's Cherokee Piper 600 at the fixed base operator on Tuesday morning at the Hays Regional Airport.