Raleigh Exec Anticipates Opening Refurbished Runway
October 22, 2013
SANFORD, N.C. — Aircraft will once again be flying in and out of Raleigh Exec: The Raleigh Executive Jetport at Sanford-Lee County with the airport expecting to reopen its refurbished runway on Thursday.
While officials anticipate a Thursday opening, the exact date and time depends on final inspections by the Federal Aviation Administration, North Carolina Department of Transportation and project engineers. As soon as the runway is open, it will be announced on the Raleigh Exec website and Facebook page.
Airport Manager Greg Hudson says the multimillion-dollar construction project, which began just after Labor Day, is now finished and the field is being prepared for flights to resume. When they do, pilots will enjoy a resurfaced runway with an increased weight capacity from 80,000 to 100,000 pounds. The runway dimensions — 6,500 by 100 feet — remain unchanged.
Further upgrades are still taking place. Once the pavement has cured, in roughly one month, grooves perpendicular to the runway will be added to help move water off the surface and allow even larger plans to land. Brighter, LED lighting also is being installed on the field, an energy-efficient upgrade designed to further enhance safety and reduce operating costs.
Runway paving is a routine maintenance procedure for airports of all sizes. "It's just like the roads we drive on every day," says Hudson. "After a while, they start to deteriorate and you've got to do a resurfacing."
This new surface was created by first removing the old asphalt, which was crushed, mixed with cement and put back into place as a concrete base. Then, two coats of asphalt were installed, creating a thicker, stronger surface that allows heavier planes to land. Drainage and other infrastructure improvements were made as well.
Hudson says the new surface should be especially attractive to corporate pilots. "We've always handled large corporate aircraft," he says. "But the increased weight capacity and grooves will expand the range of planes that can use the jetport — and that should mean a lot more business coming to our area."
Funded with a federal grant arranged through the North Carolina Division of Aviation, the runway project is just one phase of an expansion taking place at the airport off U.S. 1, just 16 miles from one section of Raleigh's Outer Loop slated to be designated as part of I-540.
Raleigh Exec also is currently constructing 28 additional T-hangars for pilots seeking enclosed space to store and maintain their aircraft. There has been growing demand for T-hangers at Raleigh Exec; in fact, Hudson says there are more than 30 names already on the waiting list for the new spaces about to be constructed.
Earlier this year, the North Carolina Forest Service announced it was moving its regional aviation firefighting operations to Raleigh Exec. That decision was part of a consolidation plan combining the agency's nine current aviation bases down to three primary hubs. Additional construction is now renovating a facility that will serve as an operational base for five fixed-wing aircraft and two helicopters used to fight forest fires — as well as a centralized maintenance location for a total of 25 Forest Service aircraft.
Carter Keller, chairman of the airport authority operating Raleigh Exec, says the project has been encouraging. He appreciates everyone's patience during the rehabilitation and believes the recent expansion demonstrates how vital the facility is for the entire Research Triangle Region.
"The Raleigh metropolitan area is now one of the four fastest growing in the country and Forbes magazine recently listed it as the third best place for business and careers, so there are plenty of people and companies pouring into the Research Triangle Region," Keller says. "Raleigh Exec already offered quick and much-easier access to the region for anyone involved in aviation. The new runway and all of our ongoing improvements will make us even stronger."
Raleigh Exec: The Raleigh Executive Jetport at Sanford-Lee County (airport code: KTTA) is located at 700 Rod Sullivan Road, just of U.S. Highway 1 at Exit 76 (Farrell Road), about 20 miles southwest of Cary.
note to media
A ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce will be held on Thursday, October 24, 10 a.m., on the ramp outside the terminal building. Airport authority chairman Carter Keller, jetport manager Greg Hudson and other officials will be available immediately after the event to answer questions.
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