With a newly announced Federal Aviation Administration grant, University Park Airport will be able to replace some aging snow removal equipment that is critical to its wintertime operations.
The airport has received a $1.83 million FAA Airport Improvement Program Grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday that 232 airports in 43 states will receive a combined $478 million from the program for 2019.
University Park Airport Director Bryan Rodgers said the grant will be used to acquire three new pieces of equipment that will replace older machinery, some of which is up to three decades old.
"The equipment will replace some much, much older equipment that we have in our existing fleet," Rodgers said. "Some of the equipment we have in our fleet is 17 to 30 years old. So this new equipment will replace that and it’s all used for airfield snow removal operations."
Rodgers said the equipment is important to maintaining safe and efficient operations in the winter and to meet FAA standards for the time it takes to clear snow and ice from the airfield.
"That equipment allows us to do that and to keep the airport accessible for commercial service aircraft and corporate aviation," Rodgers said.
Manufacturers have informed airport staff that the new equipment will take nearly a year to produce and deliver, so it is not expected be in service at University Park until the winter of 2020-21, Rodgers said.
The FAA grant will cover 90 percent of the cost. The remaining 10 percent will be split evenly between funds from the airport's passenger facility charge and an anticipated grant from PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation.