On any given day, Louisiana Regional Airport just outside the city limits of Gonzales will have an average of 600 takeoffs and landings of small aircraft.
The Advocate reports those numbers are likely to increase this summer when the runway is extended 1,000 feet.
A construction project underway will extend the 4,000-foot runway, the length that such airport runways in the state were often built to in the past, to 5,000 feet.
The new length will satisfy insurance requirements for corporate jets of a certain weight that use the airport on hot and humid days.
A runway less than 5,000 feet becomes a problem on hot, muggy days, when the air is less dense and there’s less lift.
“It takes more runway” to take off and land in those conditions, said Janet Gonzales, general manager for Louisiana Regional Airport, who is a pilot herself.
In that type of weather, pilots of corporate jets will likely avoid the airport or they might try to keep the plane light by not refueling before takeoff and fly to another airport with a longer runway to refuel.
“The industry standard for corporate aircraft is 5,000 feet” of runway, said Bradley Brandt, director of aviation with the state Department of Transportation and Development.
“It’s not that corporate aircraft can’t get in and out of there now, but they operate there under a penalty: They can’t refuel in hot weather.”
The new runway extension, expected to be ready by July, will let pilots “load baggage and passengers and fuel up in one stop,” Brandt said.
The airport was awarded $4.1 million in federal and state grants in September for the runway extension project.
The project will lengthen the airport’s taxiway that runs parallel to the runway.