Flagler Commission Hears Airport Update

Transportation infrastructure in general and airports in particular can have a strong influence on economic development efforts in a community. For Flagler Executive Airport, the proof is in the fact the former Navy airfield is the busiest general aviation airport with a contract air traffic control tower in the state of Florida.

Airport Director Roy Sieger recently briefed county commissioners on airport operations and addressed some community concerns.

Sieger said several big projects were completed at the county-owned facility, including replacement of air traffic control tower equipment, taxiway construction, general aviation terminal apron expansion and construction of additional T-hangars for private plane storage. The cost for the projects was more than $14 million, with the county contributing less than $1 million from airport funds.

The need for T-hangars is still high.

“Believe it or not, we still have over 100 people on our waiting list for a hangar at the airport,” Sieger said.

The apron at the general aviation terminal is part of the larger project to build a new terminal. Sieger said the apron will be convenient for airport users.

“When we build the new terminal, the jets will be able to park right in front of the new building,” he said.

Sieger also addressed resident concerns with the airport, including noise issues. He said the county has created a noise abatement portal.

“It’s going to be a portal that citizens will be able to go to on the (county) website,” he said. Residents will be able to get information about complaints filed and will be given options for how they are contacted once the complaint has been investigated.

County Commissioner Leann Pennington had several questions for Sieger on the noise abatement issue, specifically touch-and-go operations when an aircraft lands and departs on a runway without stopping or exiting the runway.

Pennington grilled Sieger about how touch-and-go operations are supervised at the airport and who decides how many planes can conduct the maneuver at any given time.

Sieger said for the air traffic controllers, it’s a number “they are comfortable with,” and that is typically six or seven aircraft.

Pennington suggested the new noise abatement portal will be busy.

“That portal is going to fill up quick,” she said.

With noise concerns and other issues, Pennington also suggested the county consider reconstituting an airport advisory board on a temporary basis.

“I don’t see the harm if it’s a short-term advisory council,” she said.

Commission Chair Andy Dance said the issues might also be discussed in the context of an updated airport master plan.

“I think opening up the master plan and revising is an opportunity for the public to get input into that,” he said. “As far as the (noise abatement) portal goes, it’s a great step in taking accountability for complaints coming in. I think this is the proper step.”