Alabama Airport Looks To Address Runway Safety Area Mandate

 - January 5, 2022, 4:46 PM
This image shows the property that Auburn University Regional Airport is looking to acquire from its golf club neighbor to satisfy the FAA mandate for its Runway 18/36 runway safety area. If the plan is approved, the approximately $8.5 million project would begin in 2024. (Image: Auburn University Regional Airport).

Faced with an FAA mandate to expand the runway safety area (RSA) on its primary Runway 18/36, Alabama’s Auburn University Regional Airport (KAUO) is looking to expand its property into neighboring land that is now occupied by a golf course. Under a plan now being considered, the university-owned airport would acquire a portion of land that spans a road and a section of the Indian Pines Golf Course, to increase its 300-foot RSA to a standard 1,000 feet.

According to airport manager Bill Hutto, the deal would involve approximately $3 million in FAA AIP grants, state funding, university funding, and local contributions for the property purchase and functional replacement part of the project, as well as the engineering and environmental assessment reports. He told AIN that the road would need to be closed and the golf course holes realigned in preparation for the new RSA. Once that was accomplished, the airport could begin construction of the required additional 700 feet of RSA at the north end of the runway, which would cost approximately $5.35 million.

While the installation of an EMAS barrier would preclude the need for additional land, Hutto noted that that option would shorten the runway. “It would take us below 5,000 feet of usable runway at that end, so that’s not ideal,” Hutto said. “You go below 5,000 feet, that hurts economic development.”

The airport expects a final decision on the plan by the end of April. If it is approved, runway construction would commence in 2024.