Big changes could be coming to the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport thanks to a large share of a recent flux in funding coming from New York State.
East Hill Flying Club will be the recipient of a $620,000 share of $10 million in state funding intended for upgrades in airport infrastructure beyond the resources available through local and Federal Aviation Administration funds to expand its operations to become a full-fledged, flight academy.
The funding will allow a new, purpose-built facility to be built for the club and allow it to vacate its current home beside the airport, which could potentially be rented out to a new tenant.
“We felt it was appropriate the busiest flight school in upstate New York — the East Hill Flying Club — should expand and become East Hill Flight Academy and that they have appropriate professional space to do instruction in,” airport manager Mike Hall said.
Hall said air service for airports like Ithaca-Tompkins is significantly limited these days by two factors; one is lack of appropriate equipment for commuter service and the pilots available to fly that equipment—whom the FAA ruled had to net 1,500 hours of flight time as an essentially itinerant worker—as limitations. With a bigger teaching space purpose-built for flight instruction, Hall said East Hill Flying Academy could produce qualified pilots for this very purpose.
Once they vacate their facility on Brown Road, which has frontage on the runway, the empty space could be leased for high-tech industrial development that eventually could generate more revenue for the airport. Airports are developing as sites for high-tech business, a trend documented as early as a decade ago at airports like Dallas-Fort Worth.
“It’s essentially a ‘two birds with one stone’ arrangement,” Hall said.
According to the governor’s office, the new round of funding ties in with a new $200 million Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization competition to be included in the 2016-17 budget agreement, which will solicit proposals to “promote, revitalize and accelerate investments in Upstate commercial passenger and cargo service airports,” according to a news release.
Original article can be found here: http://www.ithacajournal.com