Kent State University Airport Receives Two Grants
Sustainability improvements and increased weather observations are the focuses of two new grants the Kent State University Airport received this year to purchase one of their top wish-list items and replace another.
The airport received a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant of $309,375 for a weather observation system reporting station and a $51,399 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for new ground equipment.
The automated weather observation system (AWOS) senses wind speed, gusts and direction in degrees of the compass, temperature, dew point, altimeter settings and density altitude.
“For the students and the users of the airport, improved weather reporting on field improves safety, operational efficiency and aeronautical decision-making,” says Airport Manager David Poluga.
The FAA grant will cover 90 percent of the cost and the Ohio Department of Transportation will cover five percent. The airport will pay the remaining five percent.
“It’s a multifunded project, and it is very beneficial,” Mr. Poluga says.
AWOS reports to the National Airspace System for aviation and general public users. Public safety offices pull the system’s data to access information in order to improve snow and ice control responses.
Mr. Poluga states the AWOS will provide additional benefit to our university community and for those who are looking for precise weather observation information.
The system will assist pilots who are flying in inclement weather conditions because it will measure on-site weather.
“Our instrument will now be able to publish that information itself, and we will have much more precise information,” Mr. Poluga says.
The airport is part of an FAA network of airports called the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Mr. Poluga says the network allocates funding to airports for improvements in operational efficiency and safety.
“The Ohio Department of Transportation also identified this as a priority for the airport, based on the traffic volume, the types of aircraft that utilize the facility and student flight training,” Mr. Poluga says.
Prior to using this machine, the airport used Akron-Canton Airport's weather information to assess the air field and receive the FAA forecast. The new, on-site system is more efficient and more accurate than local observations.
The airport continues to look into the future and focus on areas of improvement and advancements that will help the overall sustainability of the airport meeting operational, environmental, social and financial objectives.
Mr. Poluga says the system has the capacity for upgrades over time.
As technology improves, the airport looks to add different sensor packages and improve the unit in order to elongate the life span.
“The airport has been trying to obtain one of these for decades, and it’s been a wish list item for us,” Mr. Poluga says.
The AWOS will be installed at the airport in November with FAA certification in the following months.
The second grant was given to the airport to cover 75 percent of the cost to replace a 1992 model of diesel-powered ground support equipment with a 2018 model of all electric airport ground equipment.
“This ground support equipment is essential for the Kent State University Airport,” Mr. Poluga says. “Not only does it allow us to perform an essential service for the people who utilize the airport, but it also allows us to do it in a clean, sustainable way. This will go a long way in meeting air quality objectives for the airport.”
For more information about the Kent State University Airport, visit www.kent.edu/airport.