PIQUA — The Piqua Municipal Airport is getting an upgrade this summer to improve safety.
Hartzell Field at the Piqua airport, located at 5465 State Route 185, will be getting a precision approach path indicator (PAPI) to help pilots acquire and maintain the correct approach when they are landing.
“It gives you guidance for what they call a guide slope coming into the runway, so you’re not too low or too high,” Mark Runge, airport manager and chief aircraft maintenance personnel at Hartzell Propeller, said.
Larry Zetterlind, chief pilot for Hartzell Propeller, explained that PAPI’s are usually to the side at each end of the runway. They are usually made up of two or four lights depending on space available for them. Each of the lights are aimed a little differently, shining either a red or white light depending on the aircraft’s position in the angle of approach toward the landing field.
For a PAPI with four lights, if two lights appear white and two appear red, then the pilot is on the correct approach path while landing. If the aircraft is too low below the correct angle of approach, then three or more lights will appear red. If the aircraft is too high, then three or more lights will appear white.
“Sometimes it’s hard to judge without PAPI’s how you’re doing, and of course, you want to stay above any obstructions,” Zetterlind said.
Zetterlind explained that this is particularly useful at night when a pilot unfamiliar with the airport may be unaware if there are any obstructions in the way of the approach path.
“It’s a safety issue,” Runge said.
The runway at the Piqua airport is 4,000 feet long, compared to runways at larger commercial airports that are around 10,000 feet long.
“That runway looks real tiny from the air,” Runge said. “That gives them extra guidance from the touch zone.”
PAPI’s are a staple at most airports, and there are already PAPI’s at other small, local municipal airports like those in Urbana and Celina.
“It’s attractive to companies,” Runge said.
The Piqua airport gets used by agriculture spray planes, clients of Hartzeller Propeller, private jets, single-engine and privately-owned aircraft, and more. They also explained that the airport is an asset to the community, as larger companies can have corporate planes fly in at the Piqua airport rather than have their employees take a longer commercial trip.
“It’s always great to see improvements to the airport,” Zetterlind said.
City Engineer Amy Havenar explained that the city was able to obtain a grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation to fund 95 percent of the construction of this project up to $280,285. The cost of the construction is expected to be $295,000, so the local portion of the construction cost will be $15,000. The Piqua City Commission recently approved the engineering cost of the project at a cost of $99,200 to Delta Airport Consultants, Inc., for which the city will also use local funds.
The project is expected to go out to bid for contractors in June or July, with the work being completed this summer.
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