The City of West Plains reached a milestone recently with the submittal of the West Plains Regional Airport Master Plan to the Missouri Department of Transportation.
“I’m very proud of the work done by the staff of the West Plains Regional Airport and the Planning Advisory Committee,” said West Plains Mayor Jack Pahlmann. “This plan gives the Airport a clear direction moving forward and will be integral in its future success.”
The Master Plan process has been underway for the past year and has identified improvements needed over the next 20 years to meet the changing needs of the aviation industry. According to the State’s Aviation Economic Impact Study, the airport generates $4.6 million annually benefit to the local economy with employment, aviation businesses and visitor spending. The airport sees over 2,700 aircraft operations annually and is home to several aviation-oriented businesses.
Of note, 90% of the recommended improvements costs will be funded by both State of Missouri Aviation grants and Federal Aviation Administration grants. These grants will cover 90% of the project’s costs with the City funding covering the remaining 10%. Due to changing aviation safety standards and a growing trend of corporate aircraft, some of the recommended improvements included are a 500-foot runway extension and widening of the runway, a wildlife safety perimeter fence, upgrades to the existing lighting system as well as taxiway and apron pavement maintenance. The study also evaluated the airspace surrounding the airport to ensure that any development does not impact safe operations of aircraft.
“Safety and efficiency are of utmost concern to us at the Airport, and we feel as though this plan addresses both of those issues,” said City Administrator Tom Stehn.
The Master Plan process included routine input from a Planning Advisory Committee made up of representatives from local businesses, airport businesses, local pilots and area residents. The process included an evaluation of existing conditions, forecasting of future aviation activity and a capital improvement plan to meet both increased demand and new safety standards. The State and the FAA require airports to develop and update Master Plans approximately every 10 years to ensure a safe and efficient airport.
Final approval of the Master Plan will be accomplished after State and FAA reviews. For more information about the Airport Master Plan, please see www.westplains.net/city- services/#airport