Wednesday, August 01, 2012

KWDR - Barrow County Airport able to accomodate most types of aircraft with Instrument Landing System

The Barrow County Airport has had its share of bad publicity, most centered on public opposition to expansion. But the little airport that was built almost 75 years ago can now accommodate the type aircraft that most businesses use thanks to the addition of an Instrument Landing System which went into operation in 2010.

Almost 10 years ago funds from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were secured for the ILS project. A series of events were set in motion in preparation for the ILS including land acquisition and extending Runway 13-31 to 5,500 feet.

Pilots used a localizer system before the ILS which lines the plane up with the runway, but can’t pinpoint the start of the runway like the ILS can.

"When you have limited visibility, you can’t land a plane without an ILS approach system," said Rob Mancini of Romanair, the airport’s fixed base operator. "The ILS has greatly increased the safety factor for the airport."

"The ILS has two needles," explained Mancini, "which shows the exact path of the runway. When you are up in the clouds you depend on the instruments to take you in."

Bob Hill of Winder, who houses his RV8 sport plane at the airport, says when making an instrument approach you can only descend so low if you haven’t seen the landing lights and runway.

"If you reach that point and still cannot see, you have to stop your descent and head for another airport," said Hill. "The ILS makes the airport viable under most weather conditions."

Rob Mancini said traffic has definitely increased at the Barrow County Airport with the addition of the ILS and he expects more traffic in the future.

"The safety factor is important, especially with these corporate jets," he said. "Some may have insurance policies which don’t allow landings without an ILS."

All the major airports in the area have one, said Mancini – Athens, Lawrenceville, Gainesville…

"Corporations want to locate near an airport," said Mancini, "and especially one with an ILS."

Georgia airports mean business and business means jobs. The FAA funded a study through the Georgia Department of Transportation to measure the economic impact of the state’s airport system and the results are clear.

The Barrow County Airport supplies 357 jobs with an annual payroll of $7,582,300 and $18,531,200 in economic output – a measure of the value of goods and services related to the airport.

The airport was built in the 1940s with two runways. The late Sen. Richard B. Russell was instrumental in obtaining grants from the Federal Government to aid in further developing the Airport. Today the Barrow County Airport is home to the 1st and 185th Aviation Helicopter Battalion of the Georgia Air National Guard which is looking at a significant expansion in the next 10 years.

Romanair, the FBO has been at the airport for more than 30 years and its services include fuel, aircraft maintenance, catering and aviation accessories. The Barrow County Airport is also home to Air Battle, Inc., owned by Owen Battle, a hangar leasing and construction business and Aircrane, Inc., the largest heavy lift operator on the East Coast. Spitfire Deli, located inside the airport terminal, specializes in freshly prepared hot and cold dishes, and plenty of homemade desserts.

For further information on the Barrow County Airport see the website at