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A wait and see

NPIAS designation could be a game changer

Originally published in the Piqua Daily Call April 4, 2014
By Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA City Manager Gary Huff touched base on the potential of the municipal
airport/Hartzell Field inclusion into the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems or NPIAS at
Tuesdays commission meeting. A distinction that would allow the airport on West State Route
185 to seek federal aid for capital improvement and annual maintenance funds.
According to Huff, nearly 70 corporations utilize the municipal airport so as to take advantage of
the services provided by Hartzell Propeller Inc., such as manufacturing, conversions and/or
certification. Some of those include the Ohio State Highway Patrol, American Champion
Aircraft, Blackhawk Engine Conversions, Corning Glass, Menards Home Improvement, Sunset
Meats, J Crane, and C & C Aviation.
Currently, the airport receives no state or federal funding due to a lack of NPIAS designation and
a proximity ruling from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The latter prohibits
additional airports being brought into the NPIAS system that are located within 30 minutes of
another NPIAS airport, in this case, the Sidney airport.
After some research, Huff found previous conversations with the FAA regarding NPIAS
inclusion had consisted of discrepancies on the driving distance between the Piqua Municipal
Airport and that of Sidneys airport. The city of Piqua found it to be more than 30 minutes in
driving distance whereas, They drove it and it was less than 30 minutes so they have maintained
that we could not get into that (NPIAS), explained Huff, thus making Piqua ineligible for
NPIAS, along with the associated state and federal funding.
However, with the world leader in propeller manufacturing and design right here in Piqua,
Hartzell Propeller Inc., the fixed base operator at the municipal airport, it did not make sense to
Huff to hinder potential development either at the airport or for Hartzell due to distance.
When you look at the companies that come out there, it is pretty significant, continued Huff as
Hartzell has grown, expanding into Texas, California, and Alabama, works in drone technology,
and were approved in February for a new type of propeller design by the FAA, among other
technology endeavors. That makes the airport significant.
In March, Huff sent a letter to the FAA listing the national significance of the Piqua airport, the
many businesses it serves and requested a waiver for entry into the NPIAS. Hartzell Propeller
Inc. backed the letter as a partner in the citys pursuit, as did speaker John Boehners office.
Should the city secure NPIAS designation, it could prove a game changer. Funds could be used
to lengthen the runway which would aid not only Hartzell but other businesses wanting to come
into the area, equating to a boost to the local economy. For now, it is a wait and see as to a
response from the FAA.
Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall