The Teton Airport Commission was awarded a $397,980 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration last week to fund the purchase of the Yeager hangar building at the Choteau Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration announced.
The grant was part of $495 million in airport infrastructure grants, the second allotment of the total $3.18 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for airports across the United States.
“This significant investment in airport improvements will fund construction and rehabilitation projects that will help maintain high levels of safety in U.S. aviation,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao in a news release.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines sits on the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, which has jurisdiction over AIP funding. He also sits on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee. In a news release, Daines said Montana will receive $8,019,366 through AIP for strengthening Montana’s air travel infrastructure.
“Strengthening the infrastructure that supports air travel in Montana is vital to our local economy,” Daines said. “These grants will lead to greater access for Montana’s visitors and more good paying jobs for Montana’s thriving tourism industry.”
Thirteen Montana airports received grants in this cycle, including the Conrad Airport which received a $243,000 grant to construct a fuel farm and the Lincoln Airport which received $506,089 to repair a runway, an apron and a taxiway, and to construct a taxiway.
The Teton Airport Commission, which oversees the joint city-county airports in Choteau, Fairfield and Dutton, will use the federal grant to fund 90 percent of the cost of purchasing the 14,000 square-foot building that sits on ground the Yeager family leased from the Airport Commission.
The Commission in April voted to buy the building for its appraised value of $425,000, contingent upon receiving federal funding. The Commission will pay the remaining 10 percent with a donation from a private entity.
The Commission plans to maintain an existing pilot’s lounge in the building, use part of it for the storage of yet-to-be-purchased snow removal equipment and wants to lease out the rest of the building to an aeronautical business and for hangar space.
The Airport Commission, headed by Mike Campbell of Dutton, has had some interest in the building from an airplane parts manufacturer in Buffalo, Wyoming, and plans to advertise the space available once the purchase has been completed.
Nationwide, the FAA provided 358 grants to 327 airports in 46 states and the Pacific Islands. Selected projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, construction of firefighting facilities, and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals. The construction and equipment supported by this funding increase the airports’ safety, emergency response capabilities, and capacity, and could support further economic growth and development within each airport’s region.
Airport infrastructure in the United States includes 3,332 airports and 5,000 paved runways. According to the FAA’s most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs.
Airports can receive a certain amount of AIP entitlement funding each year based on activity levels and project needs. If their capital project needs exceed their available entitlement funds, the FAA can supplement their entitlements with discretionary funding.