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brbrSchumer Calls on FAA to Swiftly Approve Application for Airport Improvement Funding - Runway Realignment Project Will Bring Airport into Compliance with FAAs Runway Safety RequirementsbrbrSchumer Highlighted That Many Businesses Use Airport on Regular Basis Would Consider Basing Their Aircraft At the Location Should Infrastructure Improve -- If Companies Like PepsiCo, ATT MasterCard Make Orange County Their Base, It Would Bring Jobs, Fuel Sales Economic ActivitybrbrSchumer: FAA Funding Wo


Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to unlock critical funding necessary for the Orange County Airport to move forward with improvements to increase airport safety and spur economic activity. Specifically, Schumer urged the FAA to approve the airport's application for $2.5 million in funding through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for a critical runway realignment project, which will bring the airport into compliance with FAA's Runway Safety Areas (RSA) requirements.


"I am urging the FAA to swiftly approve Orange County Airport's application for critical airport improvement funding, so that safety upgrades, transportation improvements and further regional economic development in the region are not in a holding pattern," said Senator Schumer. "Without this FAA funding to realign the runway and bring it to code, the future of this airport could be in jeopardy, eliminating a critical resource for Hudson Valley businesses and residents alike. I will work with the FAA to ensure that Orange County is awarded this critical funding."  


Schumer highlighted that in addition to keeping Orange County Airport's infrastructure uptodate, which will ensure safe and reliable travel in and out of the airport, these upgrades will prove critical for economic development in the county and the entire Hudson Valley. Many corporate entities rely on Orange County airport as their portal into the Hudson Valley, and will count on reliable infrastructure at the airport if they are to have a continued or expanded presence. For example, Walmart, Home Depot, and Dick's Sporting Goods utilize the airport for convenient access to the region. More importantly, a large number of businesses use the Airport on a regular basis and have said they would consider basing their aircraft at the location if the facilities were of the same level as other airports in the region. Those companies, like PepsiCo, Inc., AT&T Telephone, MasterCard Global Payments Company, and others would bring direct jobs, fuel sales and economic activity should they choose to base their aircraft in Orange County. These improvements would move the airport closer to attaining such business.


Orange County Airport recently submitted a grant application submitted to the FAA for a Runway Realignment Project Design to bring it into compliance with Runway Safety Area requirements. The improvement of this infrastructure will not only bring the runway into safety area compliance, but will enhance its use. The project will allow a full 5,000 feet of usable runway length without any displaced thresholds. The project will replace needed upgrades in airfield lighting and electrical components. The new alignment will also move the runway away from the Wallkill River, which floods frequently and leads to required closure of the runway until flood waters recede. In addition, the runway project will increase access during low ceiling and visibility conditions by moving the runway away from terrain obstructions located on the current runway extended centerline. This realignment would make the runway extendable in the future, while still maintaining required safety area.


Schumer highlighted today in his letter that the airport cannot afford the necessary safety improvements without federal funds from the FAA. Schumer also pointed out that without the FAA's help, future growth and development at the Orange County Airport could be in jeopardy. The County is dedicated to making these improvements and working together with the FAA. The County has submitted a grant application two years in a row, provided two different Independent Fee Estimates as well as a completed short term reimbursable agreement with FAA on the Flight Procedures. During the Land Acquisition, the Airport used over $500,000 of entitlement money that was "banked" to go towards this project. Orange County has continued to maintain and operate this airport to the best of their ability with no major capital improvements since 2006, and this money will allow them to immediately upgrade, repair and improve the conditions of their airport. Other major capital improvements and investments, which are vital to the continued success of the Orange County Airport, have had to been delayed indefinitely while the runway improvements are completed, underscoring the profound importance of expediting the repairs and improvements to the runway.


The Orange County Airport, located in the Town of Montgomery, is publicly owned and operated by the Orange County. Its mission is to promote General Aviation and foster economic development by strategically planning, developing and operating an effective and efficient airport that meets current and future corporate business, and General Aviation needs of Orange County, adjacent counties, and nearby portions of the New York City Metropolitan Area. The Orange County Airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in New York State.


A copy of Sen. Schumer's letter to Michael Huerta, the Administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration, appears below:


Dear Admin Huerta:


I am writing today to express my strong support for Orange County's grant application for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) administered under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This funding has been requested for a critical runway realignment project, which will bring the airport into compliance with FAA's Runway Safety Areas (RSA) requirements.


I am aware that difficult choices must be made in allocating federal resources, but we cannot shortchange or ignore infrastructure projects that our communities and economy rely on to provide safe and efficient transportation. Currently, the runway is located near the Wallkill River, which has a history of flooding in spring and after major rainfalls. This not only causes major closures and deterioration of the runway, but it also has resulted in the need to rebuild the ILS components numerous times after flooding. Also, the Airport has been forced to resort to finding old parts or fabricating parts discarded from other airports to keep runway lights on Runway 3/21 operational. This project will replace needed upgrades in airfield lighting and electrical components. The new alignment will also bring the runway away from the flood prone Wallkill River. In addition, it will increase access during low ceiling and visibility conditions.


Orange County has submitted a grant application two years in a row and provided two different Independent Fee Estimates to the FAA. This runway realignment project is the backbone of a larger modernization effort at the Orange County Airport. Once again, I urge the FAA to work with the Orange County Airport on their request for AIP funding for the runway safety area improvements to repair this critical infrastructure.  I thank you for your attention to this important matter and look forward to working with you and Orange County.