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Sat, Jul 10, 2010

GA Not Flourishing At New NW Florida Airport

Hangars Not Ready, Sit Empty Two Months After Opening

The GA hangars at the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (KECP) are still empty nearly two months after the facility officially opened, and pilots say they are not comparable to what they have at their old home.

There are 60 GA hangars on the property of the new airport, but a spokeswoman for Bay Aircraft Owners, an organization of pilots in the region, says multiple problems still exist. Mary Stittman says the hangar size and power sources don't meet contract specifications, and Randy Curtis, the airport executive director, says things like drainage problems have slowed the county's approval of the facilities. "If there are areas that are not in compliance then the contractor will have to make those corrections," he told television station WMBB. Stittman said GA pilots were also disappointed that no crosswind runway was constructed when the new airport was built .

In the meantime, GA pilots are operating from the old Panama City airport (KPFN), but it has lost its control tower and there is no fuel available. Stittman says that when the weather is marginal, pilots are forced to land at the new airport, where parking facilities are scarce, or go to nearby Marianna airport (KMAI). That airport is reportedly courting Panama City pilots with discounts on fuel.

The GA hangars at the new airport were promised by June 3rd, but the complications have pushed that back until July 31st at the earliest.



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