DeKalb County Airport in Auburn approved for longer runway
By Dave Kurtz | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a plan to extend the DeKalb County Airport runway to 7,100 feet, airport manager Russ Couchman said.
The runway now measures 5,000 feet. The approval calls for 100 feet more than the airport’s original goal of 7,000 feet, Couchman said.
“That’s a very, very good safety boon for the airport,” Couchman said. “It’s a solution that accomplishes absolutely everything for the FAA and the airport.
“They were extremely happy with how that looked, and therefore willing to pay for the entire 7,100 feet of runway,” he said about the FAA’s reaction to the airport’s plan.
A federal grant for an $8 million runway extension project could come next year, he said.
The plan keeps the airport’s runway protection zone on land controlled by the airport, which is a goal of the FAA, Couchman said.
“We don’t want roads and we don’t want dwellings in the RPZ,” he said.
The runway would extend toward the east, resulting in the closing of a stretch of C.R. 29 that now runs along the east end of the runway.
Aircraft could use the full 7,100 feet of the expanded runway for takeoffs,” Couchman said.
“You’d like to be able to stop on a paved surface” if a problem occurs before liftoff, and the longer runway will achieve that, he said.
The extended runway would provide 6,350 feet of landing zone for Runway 27 (facing west) and 6,400 feet land for Runway 9 (facing east).
“There’s no guarantees, but it’s looking like the FAA is situated to potentially write a pretty big grant next year” for the runway project, Couchman said. A federal grant would pay 90% of the cost, with a state grant for 5% and the local DeKalb Airport Authority paying 5%, or approximately $400,000.
A new airplane that will benefit from a longer runway should be arriving this month. A Gulfstream 280 jet will be delivered to Metal Technologies Inc. of Auburn. It will occupy a nearly completed new hangar owned by VRJ Holdings that is connected to an existing Metal Technologies Inc. hangar.
Couchman said the airport is dealing with a new threat to aircraft from “an explosion of coyote population” that began last summer.
In the past, the airport has battled smaller animals such as red fox, groundhogs and rabbits. All of them can burrow under the fence around the airport’s 110-acre property, he said.
“If an aircraft hit a coyote, it would be a pretty serious event,” Couchman said. “We’re working diligently at patrolling daily” to control coyotes, he added.