Macon Airport awarded $900K for fuel system

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Macon County Airport photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse Contributing Writer

The North Carolina Board of Transportation approved grant funding during its meeting on Sept. 2 for 13 airports across the state. Awards will be distributed by the the Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation and do not necessarily represent the total cost of each proposed project.

More than $29.2 million was awarded in all to 13 airports across the state. The funds awarded require a 10% local match.

The Macon County Airport was awarded $900,000 in state funds to construct a new fuel farm at Macon County Airport in Franklin.

Airports need to provide a ready source of fuel for users – including general aviation, corporate aircraft operators, and other commercial operators. Fuel farms are an efficient way to provide storage and dispensing of aviation fuels to multiple users at an airport. Various models are used to provide this necessary resource – some airports serve as the single source of fuel while others retain commercial providers.

With an annual budget of just over $30,000, the $100,000 local match needed for the project would have to come from the county — however at this point, the Macon County Board of Commissioners have not taken up the request for funding. 

The airport reported a decrease in use due to COVID19 — however the airport was able to secure a $30,000 grant in relief funding. 

Macon County’s current fuel farm is aging and according to Macon County Manager Derek Roland, the airport currently has to utilize fuel trucks and has needed a new fuel farm for some time. North Carolina’s goal of moving all underground fuel farms above ground by 2020 as well as getting airports relying on trucks for their fuel and to construct a secure fuel operation has fallen short due to the pandemic.

The fuel farm will have to stay within the existing footprints of the airport and the tanks will be taller in order to fulfill the 12,000 gallon preference made by the board. Fencing will also be installed around the farm. 

As of the July meeting of the Macon County Airport Authority, airport board members reported that all the hangars at the airport were occupied and the airport has a waiting list.

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