Airport awarded fuel farm funds

U.S. Congressman Bradley Byrne’s office announced last week that Atmore Municipal Airport will receive an allocation from an open-ended Federal Aviation Administration grant to fund construction of a planned single-pump fueling facility.

The $150,618 in federal funds, part of the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, will assist the general aviation airport in constructing a “fuel farm,” which will allow it to become a self-sustaining entity by generating revenue through sales of 110-octane, low-lead aviation fuel.

Mayor Jim Staff said the city would have to come up with matching funds for the project, but not any significant amount.

“This is a 5-percent match grant,” the mayor said. “You really can’t afford to turn down a grant like that.”

Those who use the new fueling facility will be able to purchase aviation fuel, eventually to include Jet-A, with their credit or debit card, allowing for 24-hour fuel-ups.

According to information posted on the FAA’s website, the Atmore facility is one of nearly 3,400 existing and proposed airports that are considered under the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems as “significant to national air transportation and thus eligible to receive (AIP) grants.”

The only requirement is that the funds be used for “infrastructure development projects that will bring the designated airports up to current design standards and increase capacity at congested airports.”

Staff said the money can’t be squandered on petty improvements to the facility.

“They give an annual allocation each year to pretty much all of the airports across the country,” Staff explained. “But you’ve got to have something to spend it on. We usually save it to pay for major stuff that we really need to do out there.”

Funds from similar allocations helped lengthen the airport’s main runway to 5,025 feet, enabling it to accept corporate and other aircraft of a like size.

“That helped us a lot,” Staff said. “Five thousand feet is usually the magic number for corporate jets or whatever to land. Now that we’ve extended the runway, we’ve landed Gulf Stream 5’s out there.”

The mayor said he was not sure exactly when the city would receive the grant money.