The Covington Municipal Airport is now dark at night, unless someone is landing.
The city installed a new runway lighting control system last week that will allow pilots to turn on the runway lights at night as needed. Covington Airport Engineer Vincent Passariello said that the system will save the city about $150 a month in electricity costs and will extend the lifespan of the runway lights, which previously stayed on all night.
Pilots will be able to turn on the lights for 15 minutes at a time by clicking on their radio microphone five consecutive times. This is generally done when pilots are two to three miles away from the airport. The system cost $1,172 to install, City Manager Steve Horton said Tuesday.
In other airport news, the city continues to plan for its eventual takeover of airport operations. On Sept. 8, the city council voted to terminate its contract with operator Dixie Jet Services. The early termination clause gave Dixie Jet 90 days to close its operations. Horton said the 90 day period will expire in mid-December.
"We have been giving consideration to what will be needed for the city to continue operations. This includes things like personnel, operations insurance, mechanic/maintenance needs, etc. No hard details just yet," Horton wrote in an e-mail. "I anticipate that we will be getting back with the elected officials by the first council meeting in November to discuss needs and approvals to meet them."
The city could hire another company to run the airport, could run the airport itself or could place the yet unformed Covington Municipal Airport Authority in charge. Horton said no work has been done on the authority, but he expected it to be part of the discussion at November’s council meeting.
Also at the airport, damage to the runway caused by a Sept. 24 helicopter crash was repaired for less than $100.