The Lake Cumberland Regional Airport has been awarded $183,667 to install weather reporting equipment.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced last week that more than $273 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants have been awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to 41 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Puerto Rico.
"This $273 million federal investment in our nation's airports will strengthen safety, improve travel, generate jobs, and benefit local communities," U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao stated.
The total includes just over $242 million from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and $31 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants to equal a 100 percent federal share for a variety of critical infrastructure and safety projects.
According to Kellie Baker, Airport Manager for the Somerset airport, the grant would normally require a 10-percent match but has been fully funded by the government due to COVID-19. The upgraded AWOS (All Weather Observation Station) will help pilots during takeoff and landing as well as allow the airport to better communicate with aircraft in transit.
"Ours has been temperamental," Baker said of the old station. "It's been struck by lightning a few times, and we've had pieces and parts replaced here and there. [The latest system] will allow us some new capabilities that we haven't had previously."
"The safety of our nation's airports is of paramount importance to the FAA," FAA Administrator Stephen M. Dickson stated. "These grants will allow these necessary projects to continue."
The only other airport in Kentucky to receive a grant is neighboring Russell County Airport in Jamestown, which will be getting $300,000 in order to extend its taxiway.
Other projects for airports across the nation include purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, installing aircraft lighting and signage, conducting airport master plan studies and installing airport perimeter fencing.
Baker added a $1.2 million project, entirely funded by the state, to install LED lighting at Lake Cumberland Regional Airport has been 95 percent completed including 332 lights for the runway and taxiway and rotating beacon replacement. What remains to be installed is a set of PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator) lights, for which airport officials must first update the Airport Layout Plan before they can be installed in the proper location.
In all, Baker said, the airport currently has seven projects in the works at various stages.
"We have lots going on here, in spite of COVID," she said. "We are actively trying to make the airport better, not just for the airport but the pilots as well. It's a very busy time for us, which is great."