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New fueling system in store for Libby Airport

by Brad Fuqua & Western News
| November 17, 2008 11:00 PM

A new two-tank fueling system is in the works for Libby Airport.

Tim Orthmeyer, an engineer with Morrison Maierle, told Lincoln County commissioners last week that the project would cost an estimated $340,000.

Each tank would be capable of holding 12,000 gallons – one for gas and one for jet fuel. The station would feature a card reader for 24-hour access. A similar setup is in operation at Eureka and provides convenience for pilots who need to fuel up their own aircraft.

“When we did Eureka – that was three or four years ago – the tanks were just over $100,000 including electrical,” Orthmeyer said. “Since then, costs have gone up on the tanks and all the equipment.”

One difference is that Eureka has just one tank and the proposal for Libby calls for the installation of two.

The total amount for the new fuel system is estimated at $340,000 with $323,000 out of Federal Aviation Administration funding. Out of the remaining $17,000, half would be paid out of a state aeronautics grant.

Rita Windom, who was attending her final meeting as county commissioner via conference call from Arizona, expressed concern over the tanks possibly being installed too close to hangers. Windom suggested that the Libby Rural Volunteer Fire Department take a look.

“We’re trying to find places where it’s a little more convenient for aircraft to get in and out,” Orthmeyer said. “We’ll look at building codes and set-backs.”

In connection with the project, planners are also considering options with the removal of the existing system. Orthmeyer said tank removal is not eligible for FAA funding and estimated the cost at $30,000. Orthmeyer suggested that an application be put in with the state aeronautics board for the amount, which includes $5,000 for engineering.

Orthmeyer said one option would be to empty and leave the tanks. However, that would require officials to monitor them.

“The best way is to pull the tanks and then you don’t have to worry about them,” he said.

Windom posed the question of what would happen if the discovery was made that the tanks leaked.

“Then you would have a cleanup process and that goes beyond tank removal,” Orthmeyer said.

If soil contamination was an issue, more costs would be involved, he added.

If the project goes out to bid in the spring, Orthmeyer said the hope would be for completion by late summer or at least before the 2009-10 winter.

Orthmeyer also briefed commissioners on two Eureka projects. Plans on the horizon include the addition of snow removal equipment and global positioning system approach capabilities.

“The GPS approach is for aircraft to use in more inclement weather,” Orthmeyer said. “Part of the process is getting a survey done of the approaches.”

The estimated cost of the snow removal equipment is $82,895. Out of that amount, $78,750 comes out of FAA funding. Orthmeyer estimated the survey – which includes aerial imagery – at $75,000 with $71,250 covered by the FAA.

The total local share for the Eureka projects totals $7,895. Orthmeyer hopes half of that will be paid for through a state aeronautics grant.

In another move following discussion, commissioners approved the appointment of Ron Denowh of Libby, Kevin Brown of Eureka and Dale Smith of Troy to the county airport board.