Less can do more, Ohio State University Airport officials plan to tell the Federal Aviation Administration.
Eliminating one of the three runways at the facility off West Case Road while extending the one to the north is the best approach to accommodating a significant share of corporate jet customers without going overboard, according to Maria Muia, a planner with the architectural and engineering firm Woolpert that is consulting on the update of the airport's master plan.
Speaking at a public meeting March 12 regarding the development of the new plan that's to guide growth and development at the airport through 2037, Muia said having one runway of 6,000 feet would accommodate about 60 percent of corporate aircraft.
A runway of 8,320 feet would be required to handle 100 percent of corporate jets at practically full capacity in terms of passengers and cargo, and that's not possible for any of the ones at the Ohio State University Airport, Muia said.
"We're real short," she said.
The best approach would be to lengthen the runway to the north or the one to the south and eliminating the one that runs diagonally through the middle of Don Scott Field, which is used in only about 3 percent of landings and takeoffs, she said.
Lengthening the south runway by 1,000 feet to the east was rejected because of the impact that would have on Godown Road and the Sycamore Hills neighborhood, Muia said.
"Not going to do it," she said.
Adding 500 feet to either end of the south runway also would have an impact on Sawmill Road as well as some homes and apartments.
That led planners to conclude that adding 1,700 feet to the north runway stretching west and 1,300 feet to the east would be the best solution, since no homes would be affected and all but small portions of the extensions would be on existing airport property, Muia said.
In welcoming the crowd of about 100, professor John M. Horack of the Ohio State College of Engineering said it was as important for airport officials to listen to residents as it was for residents to hear what's being planned.
"This is your airport, as much as it is Ohio State's airport and Ohio's airport," Horack said. "Let's make this a dialogue."
In updating the master plan, airport director Doug Hammon said first and foremost was considering how to strengthen the role of the facility for the university. Having an airport that not only trains students for careers in aviation and aerospace research but also accommodates corporate aircraft helps bring the most up-to-date equipment to the facility.
FAA officials grant advanced technology to airports that handle such customers, which greatly benefits the students, he said.
"We are a learning laboratory."
According to Marie Keister, owner, president and CEO of Engage Public Affairs LLC, who acted as master of ceremonies for the meeting, the next steps involving the master plan update include accepting comments from residents through March 26.
The plan itself will be finalized over the next several weeks and then submitted to the FAA for review and comments, Keister said.
"They don't get right back to you; it takes a while," she said.
The Ohio State board of trustees eventually would adopt the plans once approved by the FAA and then the search for funding to implement it would begin, Keister said.