Sunday, January 22, 2017

Searcy Municipal Airport (KSRC) requests grounds equipment

Searcy Municipal Airport Manager Roger Pearson has requested that funds be included in this year's budget to purchase a lawnmower and other grounds-related equipment for the airport.

Pearson made his requests to the Searcy City Council on Thursday as part of the city department budget meetings being held this month. The final budgets are due to be approved by Feb. 1.

Pearson asked that the council consider letting the airport purchase a used 72-inch radius lawnmower for $4,795.

Currently, Searcy Parks and Recreation leases the mower and the term is nearing its end. The airport is interested in buying the mower instead of purchasing the same model new for $12,500. The airport's old radius mower is out of service and needs to be replaced, Pearson said.

Aldermen asked Pearson why the mower is needed since the airport has a bush hog.

"This is the mower that we use for around the runway lights and taxiway lights, as well as up against the fences and hangars," Pearson said.

Those areas are too tight for the batwing bush hog airport workers use for the rest of the field, he said.

In that line item, there was additional dollars listed and questioned by the council. Pearson said two more equipment purchases were being requested. The "tremendous" weight of the batwing bush hog causes the tractor to get stuck when the ground is too wet; therefore the airport would like to purchase a lighter bush hog attachment that could extend to the wet areas, he said.

Certain areas at the airport are required to be mowed despite how wet the grass gets during heavy rain, Pearson explained after the meeting. If the grass in those areas exceeds 18 inches in height, it could interfere with the instruments used during bad weather to help aircraft arrive safely.

"It is not optional to let [the grass] grow, as it is part of our agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to maintain the ground to allow for proper functioning of the instruments," Pearson said. As far as the rest of the funds requested, the airport intends to buy a snowblower, if the budget line item is approved.

Pearson reminded the council that he had a snow blade attachment built for the tractor that is used to clear snow off the surface operations area; however it pushes the snow up against the sides of those areas and interferes with visibility of the lights.

"We can't allow for the buildup because it can cover runway and taxiway lighting, and cause wingtip strikes," Pearson said. "The solution would be to purchase a walk-behind snowblower and blow the snow out beyond the lighting after it is pushed to the side."


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