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Amador County Airport (Westover Field)

BACKGROUND

Westover Field The County Administration Committee conducted a routine agency review and tour of Westover field and interviewed the newly appointed Amador County Airport Manager. An aircraft service organization, and leaseholder of one of the large hangers, was also interviewed.

The Airport Manager led a walking tour of the runway, taxiway, fueling area, ILS (Instrument Landing System) installation and airport office. The budget and current expenditures were reviewed. The airport is operated as an enterprise fund. It is self supporting, generating approximately $90,000 per year in operations and leases. No Amador County general fund monies are used for airport operations or expenses. Federal and State grants are a source of revenue for major improvements.

It was brought to our attention that the department of Public Works has parked large pieces of heavy equipment within 200 feet of the southern end of the runway. This appears to be in violation of Part 77 of FAA Regulations.

The airport suffers from a lack of conveniences for visiting pilots. The pilots lounge in the administration building is not available for their use. The presence of food service, bathroom facilities, car rentals and public transportation would offer a welcome to visiting pilots. The airport is one of the nicest in the foothills and the location above the fog allows use for most of the year. These improvements, along with the other tourist attractions of the area could generate additional income to the county.

In 1986 the Department of Agriculture took over the airport office complex, consisting of four offices and a lounge area, on a temporary basis. They have occupied the building ever since. This is a misuse of the property. The shed along one side of a hanger, which is presently used as the airport office, is completely inadequate.

The Airport Manager is business oriented and motivated to make improvements. The use of Federal and State grants to finance these improvements are in process. Funds are available to purchase the property at the North approach end of the runway, install a new security fence, install an Automatic Weather Information system and new above ground fuel tanks incorporating jet fuel.

FINDINGS

  1. Refreshments, information, and bathroom facilities for visiting pilots and passengers are inadequate.
  2. The Manager's office lacks privacy and security.
  3. There is no means of public transportation from the airport on weekends, when visitor traffic is the highest.
  4. Runways, taxiways and hangers are in excellent condition and well maintained.
  5. The building of above ground fueling facilities conform to State regulations.
  6. The abandoned tanks should be removed or monitored to conform to State requirements
  7. The office complex originally used as an airport office and visitor's center is being used as an office for the Amador County Agriculture Department. Rent for the use of the facility is $137 a month.
  8. Hanger rental rates are not standardized.
  9. Heavy equipment parked at the end of the runway is a safety hazard and a potential liability to the County. This appears to be in violation of FAA regulations.
  10. Fences and gates are in need of repair.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Existing lounge facilities in Airport office building to be made accessible and the area refurbished.
  2. One of the offices in the Airport Administration building should be designated as the airport manager's office. Other office space in the building should be used for airport-related purposes, such as car rental, air taxi, and a flight school. These businesses have shown interest in locating at the airport if office space were available. These rentals would generate four times the revenue being paid at present.
  3. Amador Rapid Transit to schedule service between the airport, Sutter Creek and Jackson on weekends, to encourage tourism.
  4. Hanger rates should be reviewed and recalculated. All hangers should be leased, according to use, and a standard square foot rate applied.
  5. Relocate Public Works equipment, presently stored adjacent to the runway, to an area out of the flight path.
  6. Public Works should remove abandoned underground tanks.
  7. Grants are in process for gate and fence repair.

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