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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Master plan calls for airport improvements

Friday, September 18, 2009

Above was Monett's first view of what is today the 5,000-foot Monett Municipal Airport. The above photo ran in the Oct. 31, 1959 issue of The Monett Times under the head "Aerial View of Recently Completed Friend Airport." The photo caption read: "Pilot's view of the new Friend Airport is shown here in this aerial picture of the field taken recently by the Missouri Resources and Development Commission. The 2,400 foot runway, with a 100-foot grade and 50-foot all weather finish of crushed rock and blacktop, runs north and south, paralleling Hihgway 97 which can be seen at the right of the picture. The new hangar is the white building just to the right of the runway near the north end. Highway 60, which intersects with 97 at Yonkerville, cuts across the top of the photo. The airfield, which owner Hubert Friend hopes to have indicated on state and federal maps, is located five miles west of Monett. Friend said pilots of private planes are welcome to use the field free of charge." The airport, which became city property in 1980, is now considered a regional facility by the Missouri Department of Transportation and may be expanded to 6,000 feet with the addition of a proposed new runway, as reported in a draft of the city's new master plan for the facility.
Major growth at the Monett Municipal Airport is anticipated in the master plan presently being developed by the city. Tabulations are continuing on the cost, but the part of the plan forecasting future use is finished, offering ideas on what will happen over the next 20 years.

The master plan revision was set into motion last year when city officials met with Joe Pesca, head of the aviation division of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Pesca convinced city officials to revisit the master plan after 15 years, explaining that for improvements to receive federal funding, the upgrades must be detailed in a master plan approved by MoDOT.

In MoDOT's own overview of Monett's airport for its statewide report, the Monett airport has already been classified as a regional facility, serving the needs of Barry, Lawrence and Newton counties.

A total economic benefit of the Monett airport was calculated from the engineering firm of Wilbur Smith Associates, with additional information from Bucher, Willis and Ratliff, the engineering firm the city has used since upgrades started at the Monett airport 20 years ago. The benefit of $26.4 million is the eighth largest out of 115 airports in the state. Outside of Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield, only Columbia and Perryville have a higher dollar total for economic benefit than Monett.

MoDOT's study, drafted in 2004, projected that by the year 2022, the number of aircraft in the state would grow by more than 900. The number of landings and takeoffs in a year's time would increase by 515,000 a year.

The master plan for Monett's airport takes these projections into account, as well as economic development in the three-county area driving airport activity. Engineers at Bucher, Willis and Ratliff, drafting the master plan revision, then quantified what growth would mean.

Increased airport activity

"The total based aircraft figures are expected to increase at a rate of approximately 4 percent annually and result in the addition of 37 aircraft to a total of 72 piston, turbine and jet powered aircraft based at the airport in 2029," the report said.

Figuring the major industries, such as Jack Henry and Associates, would upgrade its planes in that timeframe, engineers anticipated the airport would host four single and/or multi-engine turbo-prop airplanes and 12 based business planes by 2029. One or two light jets were expected in the future mix.

With this number of planes, combined takeoffs and landings, either of which is classified as an operation, are expected to rise accordingly. Presently there are 17,000 operations by aircraft at the airport per year. At a 4 percent annual growth rate, that would rise to 25,100 by 2014 and 38,500 by 2029. Activity by planes based at the airport, would rise from 4,500 per year at present to 6,500 by 2014, reaching 10,000 by 2029.

Bucher, Willis projected that volume of flights would continue to be made by the same types of planes making flights today. If two-thirds of operations were still made by single engine planes, in 20 years, smaller planes would make 25,400 operations in 2029. Turbo-prop and business jet activity would increase from 3,900 operations per year now to 8,900 in 2029.

Accommodating increased traffic volume based on such projections will require improvements to the airport, the plan states. Calculating the size of runway needed to accommodate the higher volume of traffic plus the heavier planes industrial users would likely use for the next generation of their planes, engineers concluded Monett should upgrade from a B-2 airport to a C-2 airport. Pesca made the same recommendation to city officials in January 2008.

New runway

Presently the airport has a 5,000-foot runway. A C-2 airport requires a runway with a minimum length of 5,500 feet and wider than what the Monett airport now has. Accommodations for projected heavier planes would require a 5,900-foot runway that is 25-feet wider than the present runway.

The next generation of planes from what Jack Henry now uses, Cessna's Citation X line, weighs 34,500 pounds. The current runway has a weight-bearing capacity of 30,000 pounds for single-wheel gear aircraft. Also, a greater minimum separation distance is required between runway and taxiway in a C-2 airport than a B-2.

Consequently it appears unlikely that the current runway could be converted to C-2 requirements. Construction of a new runway in addition to the existing facility is proposed in the plan, on the same bearings as the existing runway.

Other upgrades projected

Other upgrades are indicated for runway lighting, the weather observatory, precision landing instrumentation, fuel storage and the terminal. The weather observatory would be moved to the west side of the field in the process. To accommodate more people, existing parking would need to nearly double over the next 20 years.

Much of the additional passenger traffic is expected to go to company facilities on the airport grounds. Nonetheless, with passenger volume increasing, the plan calls for increasing the size of the terminal building over time to provide space under Federal Aviation Authority guidelines. In 20 years the present terminal building is projected to nearly double in size.

Projections on the increase of smaller planes using the airport also pushes demand for more storage. The master plan anticipated the demand for T-hangar space would increase from 28 at present to 53 in 20 years. Demand area for T-hangars would rise from 35,000 square yards to 66,300 square yards. Square yardage for tie-down space for aircraft was also expected to triple over the next 20 years.

The master plan offered a series of improvements, broken down into three phases over the next 20 years. Rather than setting a timetable, engineers suggested that the operational environment, such as demand activity, would determine when improvements should be made.

The master plan is presently only in draft form. Completion of cost estimates are expected in another month, at which time members of the Monett City Council will study the overall proposal. Meetings with property owners around the airport would follow. Final approval of the master plan is expected by the end of the year.

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