A team of inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration found a number of items during a recent tour of Payson Municipal Airport that need to be addressed.
The FAA Runway Safety Action Team spent June 28 inspecting the airport and then presented its findings to a joint meeting of the Payson Town Council and the Airport Advisory Council the following evening.
Of the nine recommendations for improving the airport, the most important was the need to construct a service road on the south side of the airport to eliminate use of the taxiway as a road.
"A lot of what they came up with was fine-tuning, but probably the most significant was the flow of service vehicles," Airport Manager Ted Anderson said.
The Payson facility was the first non-tower airport to be inspected, thanks in part to an invitation from Mayor Barbara Brewer.
"They started with big airports like San Francisco and Phoenix, then the Tucsons and Scottsdales," Anderson said. "They realized that their charter requires them to look at all airports. They were in Arizona to look at Williams Gateway, and the mayor invited them to Payson."
Besides the need for a service road, the FAA team made the following recommendations:
- Look at the feasibility of distinguishing different areas of the airport for use by other than taxiing aircraft.
- Develop an access control plan to limit non-essential vehicle and pedestrian traffic on runway and taxiways. The plan should address a system of consequences for non-compliance.
- Complete a grading project to correct pavement edge drop-off, safety area and drainage erosion issues.
- Develop an airport sign and marking system using reflective signs initially, followed by an internally-lighted sign project in later improvement projects.
- Paint runway edge markings.
- Install taxiway edge reflectors.
- Include a maintenance run-up area in the next master plan update.
- Develop a driver-training program.
Taking care of the recommended items is especially important because failure to do so could result in the loss of grants.
"If you aren't in compliance, you have to pay them back," Brewer said, "and I never want to go to our public and say, ‘You know, we didn't follow the rules.'"
Anderson said none of the team's recommendations came as surprises. He said he hopes a lot of the upgrades can be piggybacked onto the grants themselves.
"The purpose, based on what they feel should be done first, is to try to tie it into a grant that's coming up in the near future," he said. "We have two or three grants coming up this next year, so we say, ‘We really need to get this done, so let's see if we can tie things together and get more money.' So a $2.5 million grant could go up several hundred thousand dollars."