Monday, March 10, 2014

Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport (KVVS), Connellsville, Dunbar Township, Pennsylvania

FAA pushes for upgrades to Fayette airport

The Fayette County Airport Authority is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to correct deficiencies that could jeopardize future federal funding for the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport in Dunbar Township.

Solicitor Bill Martin and airport manager John “Bud” Neckerauer updated board members on Saturday on a recent telephone conference call with the FAA and PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation.

Martin and Neckerauer said they discussed five land-use inspection findings with FAA officials. Those findings were outlined in a July 26, 2013, letter the FAA sent to Neckerauer.

They include using some hangars for non-aeronautical purposes, storing non-aeronautical equipment and artificial turf in hangars, parking a trailer and mailbox into the taxiway that could pose a safety concern and risk, and failing to install a security gate to stop vehicles from entering Taxiway F and other parts of the airport.

In the letter, FAA officials said they had repeatedly advised the airport authority to take necessary corrective actions but have not received a timely, acceptable response.

During the conference call, Martin said, FAA officials indicated they want the authority to provide timelines to show that progress is being made to resolve the deficiencies.

Martin said authority members need to review the deficiencies point by point and take corrective actions.

“We can't just give the FAA lip service,” Martin said. “We need to give periodic updates to the FAA on a quarterly basis so they can see the progress that the authority has been making. The FAA wants to work with us, but we need to communicate with them on a regular basis.”

County Commissioner Al Ambrosini, who attended the special meeting, commended authority members for recent action they have taken to work with the FAA and to restore the airport's financial stability.

“I'm very pleased with the significant progress that the airport authority has made in less than a year,” Ambrosini said. “I think the airport has a very bright future.”

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