Runway rehab opens airport to larger planes; meets FAA requirements

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A $30 million dollar renovation project is underway at Spartanburg Memorial Airport. 

The largest project to date will extend the runway several hundred feet and make the airport FAA compliant. 

7News has learned about 90 airplanes fly in and out of Spartanburg Memorial Airport daily. Airport officials hope the runway expansion project will help them attract bigger planes, carrying more people, to Spartanburg. 

“So the runway, last time it was resurfaced was back in the 80’s,” said Airport Director Terry Connorton. 

Financial constraints have limited the airport officials from paying for runway upgrades, that was until the Federal Aviation Administration awarded Spartanburg Memorial Airport a grant to fund renovations. 

“We’re extending the runway to 6,000 feet to allow us to get bigger airplanes in here,” Connorton told 7News. “The other thing we are going to be doing is actually improving the navigational lights.” 

On Friday, Connorton showed our crew the site of the future additions. He says the long-overdue expansion project will make the airport compliant with federal safety zone regulations.

The Airport Director shared this with 7News:

Lengthening the runway will help meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements, extending the safety zones by about 1,000 feet and 600 feet on either end of the runway.

Connorton says the project also fulfills his vision to make the airport a popular entry point for South Carolina. 

“I’m trying to get this airport a lot of more involved in tourism,” he said. 

Bigger planes is music to the ears of Airflow Performance President Don Rivera, whose business depends on planes. “Of course, that expands our customer base, which will help our business.” Rivera told 7News. 

The airport is primarily used by private and corporate jets, generating more than $40 million dollars in revenue for Spartanburg, but the upgrades open the door for smaller commercial flights in the future. 

“I think what will happen is it’ll allow more people to visit Spartanburg,” Rivera said. 

The runway will be closed from June 18, 2018 to August 23, 2018. The runway will be temporarily shortened by 1,000 feet during rehab, so only smaller aircrafts will be able to use the runway. During the rehab planes will be rerouted to Greenville-Spartanburg International or Downtown Greenville Airport. 

The project is set to be complete by December 1, 2018. 

Spartanburg Memorial Airport was the first commercial airport in the state. A mail plane landed there in 1928. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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