Navy will spend up to $2M on airport
Published 11:48 am Friday, November 12, 2010
by Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr.
On Oct. 1, the Navy announced its intention to begin negotiations for the use of Franklin Municipal Airport for Field Carrier Landing Practice by Navy E-2C and C-2A aircraft.
Since that time, the Navy has engaged with elected and appointed officials in the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight County, as well as with individual citizens and groups. We know it is important for us to provide area residents with as much information as possible, as soon as possible, to address their concerns, and we are committed to maintaining this dialogue.
We began sharing information with the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight County officials and followed those meetings up with a realistic flight demonstration on Oct. 27 at the airport to provide residents with an example of what the noise generated by E-2C FCLPs would be.
During this demonstration, the aircraft flew approach and departure routes for both runway 09 and 27 at the altitude that is used for actual FCLPs. At the request of many members of the public, additional aircraft demonstrations will be flown in the future to again provide everyone an opportunity to experience what these operations at Franklin Municipal Airfield will look and sound like.
As we have engaged further with local residents and officials, key concerns expressed have included noise, safety and the economic impact on the region. These are all concerns that will be addressed in our environmental assessment as this process moves forward.
The assessment will be an in-depth study and will provide you with the opportunity to participate, but I would like to take a moment now to provide information that is already available.
Let’s talk safety first. The safety record of the E-2C and C-2A aircraft is exemplary. We place the highest premium on safety in the Navy as a whole and especially in naval aviation. Safety of our pilots and aircrew is, in fact, why we must conduct FCLP operations at a shore facility before allowing our aviators to land on the aircraft carrier.
While past performance does not guarantee future success, it is a telling indicator, and I am confident in the record of not only the aircraft itself, but of the men and women who fly them. They are some of the best and most highly trained aviators in the world.
In regards to the economic impact FCLP operations will have on this region, I have to point out that we are early in the process and specifics of all that may be invested in the region are yet to be developed. However, I can say that this action will provide positive net benefits to the airport, which is an important regional asset owned by the City of Franklin and located within Isle of Wight County.
The Navy plans to invest $1.5 million to $2 million to make necessary airfield improvements to include electrical upgrades for additional runway and airfield lighting, concrete pads to support visual landing aids and workstations for our Landing Signal Officers.
We will also negotiate with the City of Franklin, the owner and operator of the airport, for airfield operating and maintenance services necessary to conduct FCLP operations. Services under the proposed contract may include firefighting, runway maintenance, equipment storage, aircraft support equipment, and aircraft and vehicle parking. This contract can help Franklin defray the cost it incurs to operate the airport.
Additionally, given the proposed increase in airfield operations, federal grants may be available for firefighting and other equipment as well as for additional airfield improvements such as security fencing.
Working together with the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight County, I assure you we will do our best to keep everyone informed of the progress made as we move through our environmental assessment and toward an agreement that is mutually beneficial to the region and the Navy.
J.C. HARVEY JR. is an admiral with the U.S. Navy and commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. To reach him my e-mail, write to email@example.com.