OGDEN — Ogden-Hinckley Airport officials hope to add commercial passenger service to the business, but certain security upgrades are required for that.
Officials haven’t signed any agreements with a commercial airline yet, and before they can accept commercial passenger service, the Transportation Security Administration needs them to make room at the airport for TSA security. The TSA needs space for security screenings, a secure passenger waiting area, and break and office space for its personnel so the airport will be compliant with post-9/11 security requirements.
At a work session with the Ogden City Council on Thursday evening, airport manager Royal Eccles said the TSA needs 120 days’ notice of completion so it can coordinate with the airport about its new security installations.
Also, local pilots would need new security badges, a replacement for the existing punch code access. Pilots would need to undergo some basic training and a routine criminal background check to obtain the new badges.
Steve Gleason, manager of the Provo Muncipal Airport, was also on hand at the work session to help field questions about expanding a small airport, a transition Provo has already gone through.
Gleason mentioned that when his airport underwent similar development, officials there experienced some “blowback” early on from local pilots about the additional training requirement.
“They thought we were gonna take all the fun out of flying,” he said.
But once people went through the training, they realized nothing else had changed, he said.
Gleason recalled concerns from residents about increased vehicle traffic around the airport as well during their expansion, but that concern didn’t materalize in any signficant way, he said.
“All anybody can see is Salt Lake International, unless they are familiar with these smaller airports,” Gleason said.
If anything, the biggest ongoing obstacle will be felt by airport administrators, who might feel as though the TSA is inspecting them every week, Gleason said.
Right now, the TSA inspects Ogden-Hinckley Airport once a year.
Councilwoman Caitlin Gochnour asked Eccles if increased traffic to the airport would have an effect on jet traffic around Hill Air Force Base.
Eccles assured the council that has already been planned for because air traffic controllers for the region already handily direct aircraft in the Northern Utah airspace. Besides that, he said, the jets and commercial airlines fly at different elevations.
“The notion that it would reduce traffic at Hill is false,” Eccles said.
The Ogden-Hinckley Airport has been a commercial airport since the 1970s, and already takes airplanes carrying more than 30 passengers, Eccles said.