The Pembina Regional Aerodrome Association has asked town council for an additional $6,000 to help with fixing the taxiways at the airport.
Jerry Greiner, the president of the PRAA, advised council that the cost of paving has more than doubled in the past two years. As such, fixing the taxiways is going to cost more than they had originally anticipated.
He says normally the Town pays the club $136,000 to cover the costs of maintaining the airport. While the group has hired a manager for the airport, the remainder of the members are volunteering their time at the airport. This year they are asking for $142,000.
However, he says if the Town doesn’t give them the additional funds, they will do what they need to do to make it work. He says they might have to cut back in some areas, but the taxiways have to be repaired.
The water trucks that were brought in when Thunder in the Valley was running at the airport have caused some damage to the pavement on the taxiways. There are lots of rocks that are chipping off and Greiner says they have to keep it clear of the rocks because if a jet lands there, the rocks could get sucked into the engine.
Some of the airport’s more recent upgrades include a GPS navigation system that allows aircraft to find the airport even during poor weather. He says it’s working great and has been used plenty of times. Alberta Health Services was able to use the airport to send infants with urgent care needs out on an airplane, as they cannot fly on the STARS helicopters.
But Greiner says there are some systems out there that still need to be updated.
Currently, the gas meter at the airport runs on the “honour system.” It’s not an electronic meter, so when clients fill up their tanks, they write down the number on a sheet of paper. Later, they send that number into the airport. The airport then sends them a bill and the pilot pays with an e-transfer.
Greiner says they’ve never lost money on gas, but just having a credit card terminal would save 10 hours of paperwork each month.
“We’ve never been screwed over, but you don’t see that anywhere these days,” he says.
He says to have a credit card terminal in place, they would have to upgrade a few parts of their system. It would also be a great time to add in additional tank so they could offer jet fuel as well as the 100LL avgas.
Right now, they only have avgas for sale, and that is only meant for the smaller planes. With jet fuel, they could work as a pit stop for the larger planes and helicopters.
“It would have a jet fuel side and an avgas side, sort of like gas and diesel,” he says.
During the wildfires, the larger helicopters required jet fuel to run. Greiner said there were tankers brought in with jet fuel, but he feels it was a missed opportunity for Drayton.
“If we had jet fuel there we could have sold it to them rather than have it trucked in by someone else,” he says.
Greiner says there were more than 1,800 planes who used the airport in the last year. “There are around 30 planes a day using it all summer long,” says Greiner.
He says they typically are only grounded for about ten or fifteen minutes, so unless a person was right there they wouldn’t see it. But Greiner says companies like Weyerhaeuser and Kal Tire use them for flying in for meetings. He says there are also a lot of bankers that fly in for meetings.Some companies also use the airport to fly their crew in and out of work sites.
By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Nov 23, 2023 at 15:38