Additional lighting to be installed at airport to aid pilots

Barbara Miller

Commissioners last week approved a lighting upgrade for the Washington County Airport in North and South Franklin townships that will lead officials to seek authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration for nighttime instrument landings.

The $57,000 contract to illuminate obstructions is to be performed by Schultheis Electric of Latrobe, Westmoreland County, the county’s electrical contract of record.

Ninety-five percent of the project will be funded through a block grant from the PennDOT Bureau of Aviation with the remainder borne by county taxpayers.

“We’ve been doing a lot of tree-cutting to reduce obstructions around Runway 9,” said William McGowen, executive director of the Washington County Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the county airport.

There will be lights on Mounts Road to mark utility poles and on a house that will eventually be demolished.

“This is the last of that obstruction removal and obstruction marking to get our night instrument approach back. They’re in the cone of approach.

“For the past several years, our Runway 9 night instrument approach has not been authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Once the project is complete, “we will go back to the FAA and say we’ve corrected all these deficiencies,” McGowen explained.

The work has been reviewed and recommended by the redevelopment authority and Vincent J. DeCario, project manager for L.R. Kimball, according to county Purchasing Director Randy Vankirk.