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Tue, Feb 21, 2006

Deadline Looms For Middle Georgia Regional Airport

FAA: Improvements Must Be Completed By Tuesday

Today's the day for Macon's Middle Georgia Regional Airport (MCN). February 21 is the deadline date set by the FAA for the airport to make a number of improvements and repairs... or else it could lose its operating certificate.

Among the needed improvements cited in a December 22, 2005 letter to the airport were fix the runway lights, repaint the runway markings, and fix airport signs that had fallen into disrepair. In a follow-up letter dated January 12, the FAA identified the root of most problems at Middle Georgia as a serious lack of manpower.

Macon Chief Administrative Officer Regina McDuffie told the Macon Telegraph she expects the airport to retain its certificate -- as long as the FAA gives them time to make all the necessary improvements.

"Some of the things that (the FAA is) looking at will be ongoing (beyond Tuesday), such as training our personnel and making sure that we stay in compliance," McDuffie said.

Then there are the problems cited by the TSA. As the problems relate to security at the predominantly general-aviation airport, nobody's being specific about those issues... but whatever they are, Middle Georgia has until March 31 to fix them.

"We are continuing to work with the airport, and our hope is they will come into full compliance with our regulations," TSA spokesman Christopher White said last week.

Another question among the many at MCN is a fairly basic one: who's in charge here, anyway? Former Airport Director George Brown says he was fired; the city lists him as retired.

Brown is currently appealing to the city council to get his job back, while former Macon aviation director (and current parks director) Rex Elder is filling in as the city searches for a permanent replacement.

That whole situation won't be resolved until March 8 at the earliest.



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