Knox airport panel gets first look at master plan update
Owls Head — An update of the Airport Master Plan at Knox County Regional Airport will take about 13 months, but officials say the process is necessary for future development.
A consultant to the airport's Public Relations - Environment Subcommittee of the Public Advisory Committee presented an outline of the proposed plan Jan. 14 at the Owls Head Transportation Museum. An update of the plan is a requirement of the Federal Aviation Administration, said Airport Manager Jeffrey Northgraves.
The Advisory Committee also voted to support the recommendations of the Operations, Maintenance and Safety Subcommittee recommendations approved in December following the air crash killing the pilot and two passengers in a Cessna 172 single-engine aircraft at the airport Nov. 16. Northgraves asked for the vote Monday to pass on to the Knox County Commission at its February meeting.
Those recommendations called for acquisition of recording capability of the Unicom frequency, acquisition and installation of cameras to record runways, and construction of a vehicle road parallel to Runway 13-31, the main runway.
Advisory Committee member Gray Smith of South Thomaston asked Northgraves which of the three proposed safety changes he considered most important.
"C is the number one priority," said Northgraves of the proposed parallel road.
Committee member Bill Jones of Hope said he could not support the safety plan until he knew more about it. Thus, the vote stood at 6-0-1, with Jones abstaining.
Before getting into the plan, the airport manager reviewed the highlights of the new terminal, opened in December 2010.
He praised carrier Cape Air, the airline carrying passengers to and from Owls Head, as a reason for the success of the airport so far. Other areas included an increase in rental fees of vehicles parked at the terminal, and the new restaurant, Aviary Cafe, which opened last summer.
The cafe was open daily during the summer, but had to reduce its hours to weekends in the off-season when flights to and from Boston were reduced.
Cape Air's Boston flights between 2010 and 2012 have made the difference, Northgraves said.
His outline reviewed the positive effects of the design of the green terminal, which focuses on high performance insulation, high-efficiency lighting, geothermal heating and cooling, low-emitting building materials, recycled and renewable construction materials, porous pavement to protect ground water resources and stormwater impacts, and a 20-percent energy efficiency higher than state energy code requirements.
Turning to the master plan update, senior aviation planner Evin C. Deck of Stantec Consulting of Scarborough, explained that the 2000 plan is outdated.
The points of his outline consisted of an introduction, purpose of the meeting, definitions of a master plan and an airport layout plan, process used to decide both documents, identifying the stakeholders and their roles, making an inventory of existing conditions, and explaining the next step in the development.
An Airport Layout Plan is important to the process, Deck said, going over such proposed revisions as scope, data collection, assigning new Advisory Committee members, and starting the report's development.
He defined a master plan as the concept of the long-term development of an airport. A master plan displays the concept geographically and documents the date and logic upon which the plan is based, he said.
The goal of a master plan, he said, is to provide guidelines for future airport development, which will satisfy aviation demand in a financially feasible manner, while at the same time resolving the aviation, environmental, and socioeconomic issues existing in a community.
The process is guided by the FAA and ultimately results in projections of future growth and an airport layout plan, he said.
An airport layout plan is needed because all development at federally obligated airports must be done in accordance with an FAA-approved airport layout plan.
One committee member asked what would have to be done to warrant building a control tower. The FAA has a formula based on the numbers and variety of planes using an airport, Deck said.
Only two airports in Maine — Portland and Bangor — have FAA-approved control towers, he said. There are between 500 and 600 airports in the United States with control towers, he added. Some airports, such as the one in Schenectady, N.Y., have control towers supported by other agencies, such as the Air National Guard.
"The FAA would have to take into account the number and kinds of flights, the cost of building a tower and the cost of staffing it," he said.
The next meeting is scheduled in about 45 days. Advisory Committee members were given a homework assignment of reading the chapters on economic forecasting and facilities — both required by the FAA — in the proposed new plan.
Carol Maines of Rockland, chairman of the Knox County Commission, the agency responsible for the airport, attended the meeting.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or email@example.com.