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Bend Airport planning to expand copter area

By John Hendricks
Published On: Jan 07 2014 01:23:01 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 07 2014 03:00:04 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's John Hendricks reports on expansion plans at the Bend Airport

BEND, Ore. -

Improvements could be coming to the Bend Airport, and those who use it say it could help the Central Oregon economy by creating jobs.

Wednesday night, the city council is scheduled to vote on approving a $164,000 environmental analysis of plans for the airport.
    
The study is needed to upgrade the helicopter pad.

"It's kind of at the point now where 12 is the most we can go with this current configuration," Travis Warthen, vice president of Leading Edge Aviation, said Monday evening. "It will limit our growth if we don't get some place additional."

He added that it will not only allow for more space, but improve safety.

"It would create a designated approach path for the helicopters," Warthen said. "It would make it so we're not seeing as much traffic with the airplanes and the gliders."

The current plan is to nearly double the current helicopter pad and build it in the northeast corner of the airport property.

Warthen says the expansion would allow for more business and larger copters, like ones used to fight wildfires.

"If we had an area where they could come to comfortably and know that they can get in and out without a big hassle, then absolutely I think it would attract people to the airport," Warthen said.

The city says an FAA grant will cover 90 percent of the study; the airport must match the remaining 10 percent.

Once the study is begun, the FAA will require full completion of the assessment,  even if the cost exceeds the available grant funds.

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