With larger business jets becoming popular with state legislators, the Carson City airport is considering changing its designation as a facility that can safely accomodate the popular crafts.
The Airport Authority will discuss the change Wednesday. By changing the designation, a status level recommended by the airport master plan, the facility will be able to build a wider and longer runway in the next three years.
Federal requirements already require the airport rebuild and realign its runway, a project estimated to cost $12.2 million, said airport engineer Jim Clague of PBS&J.
The money would allow removal of a hill adjacent to the path of the new runway and the building of a runway that is 5,900 feet long and 75 feet wide.
The category change would call for a runway that is 6,700 feet long by 100 feet wide.
A larger runway would cost an estimated $800,000 more to build, Clague said.
A longer runway would not necessarily mean noisier traffic in the airport area, but it could make the airport a safer place to land the planes already using it, Clague said.
"Essentially what's happening is, they're starting to see planes that aren't necessarily larger, they just come in faster," Clague said. "People are already trying to land on something that is not long enough."
State representatives arriving from Las Vegas and other areas, are arriving more often in popular Gulfstreams and Falcon jets, he said.
"There are representatives and senators, and they need a place to come in to," Clague said.
The city airport is also an alternate airport, able to relieve air traffic in the event of an emergency at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
The runway project is scheduled to begin in the next three years. If the category change was made, it wouldn't necessarily mean that bigger planes would bring in louder air traffic, Clague said. Newer planes are not as noisy as older models, he explained.
"It's just a discussion to make sure we're following all of our options," said Yvon Weaver, airport manager. "If we make a decision now that adversely affects the airport and didn't look at all of our options, we wouldn't be doing our job."
IF YOU GO
What: Carson City Airport Authority meeting
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Carson City Community Center, Bonanza Room, 851 E. William St.