Extended runway recommended in Currituck County Regional Airport master plan

Published 2:31 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2023

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Currituck commissioners received guidance on future development and growth of the Currituck County Regional Airport at their December 5 meeting.

Under the leadership of airport director William Nelson, the Currituck County Regional Airport has grown significantly. It is used by general aviation aircraft, military aircraft and business jets.

As part of the master plan, Nelson is recommending improvements to the airport infrastructure that will support economic development. Proposed improvements include an extended and reconditioned runway, additional parking, and new hangars. Additionally, the plan calls for LED run and taxi light systems, a new fueling station and a relocated terminal building.

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Nelson explained that this is a 20-year development plan that can change as the needs of the county change.

Commissioner Paul Beaumont asked about a mitigation strategy for dealing with aircraft business during a runway extension project, which will likely be a 10-inch overlay of concrete.

Nelson replied that the runway project will be done in pieces, allowing for the runway to continue to be used.

Beaumont also discussed the cost of the project. He said that other airport projects are done with 90/10 funding – 90% of the funding will come from the state, and 10% will come from the county. Runway projects of this size can cost $10 million.

“This has got to be one of our top priorities,” Beaumont said in reference to the work of Raleigh lobbyists hired on behalf of the county. “This has got to be on the next legislative because this is going to be expensive. Ten percent of this project is still going to be significant.”

The Division of Aviation has been out twice this year to assess the airport and witness first hand the large jets that are coming through the Currituck County Regional Airport. “They realized they need to start thinking about Currituck and the traffic we’re getting out here on the coast, and the tourists that are coming to our community,” Nelson said.

The airport brings in jets with a wingspan of almost 100 feet and a max weight of almost 100,000 pounds.

“Our runway is 150 feet wide which is very nice,” Nelson said. “We’d like to keep the runway 150 wide [after the runway extension project]; that’s the reason we get the jets we get. That width makes a big difference for them. Is the only reason we can handle those jets. Our taxi wing is small and our parking area is small but they’re just pleased to see a big runway when they get here.”

Nelson also discussed the aviation program through Elizabeth City State University. The current arrangement has the school doing up to 100 landings daily at the airport through a “Through the Fence” agreement through the Federal Aviation Administration. Under a new arrangement with the airport, the usage will remain the same but they will now be buying fuel from the airport, increasing county revenue.

“They are not taking over our airport,” assured Nelson. “That’s not a concern.”

What the university program will do is bring additional exposure to the airport as well as a possibility for additional federal funding.

“Because it’s a public airport, it’s like a public road,” stated Chairman Bob White. “It’s up for any legitimate aircraft to use. We work with anybody who is interested in using our airport. It’s here for the community.”