Here at Yeager Airport, we move fast and efficiently; we also pride ourselves on staying ahead and being forward thinkers who don’t have a box to think outside of.
Our latest project is electrifying CRW with electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, better known as eVTOL. WATCH HERE or read below for more.
“This is an opportunity for Kanawha County and West Virginia to be at the forefront of emerging technology. A lot of this stuff hasn’t been done before. We can be at the forefront of this technology while trying to achieve our vision of being the most significant economic engine of the state of West Virginia by bringing high-paying, high-tech jobs,” said Airport Director Nick Keller.
At the end of October, The Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority Board voted to move forward with a consulting group, Thrasher. This agreement means that a team of consultants will prepare CRW and West Virginia for an eVTOL infrastructure.
“The groundwork phase has kicked off. We are doing cost estimating right now to see the financial obligation for that battery research center. We are in talks with the engineering school at Marshall with their thoughts on what this will look like, how it will function, and what sort of equipment we will need….so we can be more attractive to different funding sources,” said Thrasher Marketing Director, Heidi Handley.
For the last six weeks, Director Keller, and Thrasher Group, Marshall University, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute have been working on several eVTOL opportunities.
“That would include electrifying our airport, putting charging stations in, and looking around the state to put these landing pads for aircraft. The potential to have an aerospace manufacturing facility in the Kanawha valley and region would make these aircraft batteries. Thrasher is under contract to help us review this and help us with federal grant applications, land acquisition, and site development. The whole host of everything that relates to eVTOL” said Keller.
eVTOL aircraft are battery operated and will be a significant milestone for CRW’s zero-emission aviation industry. Board members like Ed Hill and Jim Dodtrill all approve of Director Keller’s vision of electrifying CRW.
“We see an economic opportunity that will significantly benefit this area and the state,” said Hill.
“For the state and the region because we are on the front edge of it. For example, if we do the battery research center in cooperation with Marshall, it will be the first in the world. It’s kind of like if you built it, they would come. It will be like a magnet; it will attract the eVTOL companies to West Virginia,” said Dodrill.
CRW is working hard to lock in grant funding, and depending on that, we could see work on the infrastructure being done as soon as the following year.
Yeager Airport (CRW) will soon be on a NEW map as construction of a standalone United States Customs and Border Protection building wraps up this November.
While CRW does not concurrently offer non-stop, international commercial flights, the Airport is West Virginia’s only U.S. Customs and Border Protection port of entry.
This standalone facility goes hand-in-hand with the Airport’s international designation, which will become official on January 1, 2022, when CRW becomes West Virginia International Yeager Airport.
Currently, only five states do not have an international airport, and West Virginia is one. That can be a negative factor for some companies looking to relocate their business to West Virginia; being near an international airport is considered necessary.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION FACILITY?
The U.S. Customs facility at CRW will handle Customs-clearance for private and military aircraft carrying up to 20 persons, thus significantly increasing air operations at Yeager Airport. In addition, the building will support foreign trade.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL DESIGNATION?
To be classified as an “international airport,” an airport must have a U.S. Customs building on the premises. The Airport does not have to have international commercial service. As CRW’s U.S. Customs Building will be complete in December, the Airport is officially permitted to add “international” to its name. This name addition will put General Yeager’s legacy on an international stage.
Airport officials and tourism partners are exploring opportunities to attract international commercial service through Customs and Border Protection Preclearance. With Preclearance, travelers clear customs at one of 16 preclearance locations in 6 countries, then bypass CBP and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspections upon U.S. arrival and proceed directly to their connecting flight or destination.
Today, CBP has more than 600 officers and agriculture specialists stationed at 16 Preclearance locations in 6 countries: Dublin and Shannon in Ireland; Aruba; Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas; Bermuda; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg in Canada.
WHO WILL BE UTILIZING THE NEW FACILITY THE MOST?
Private general aviation and military aircraft that need to clear U.S. Customs will utilize the facility.
We expect several hundred international flights to clear Customs at CRW each year. In addition, flights that may not be destined for our state now have the option to stop at CRW to quickly and conveniently clear Customs utilize the services of Capital Jet Center.
WHAT DO U.S. CUSTOMS OFFICERS CHECK FOR?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) mission is to protect the American people, safeguard our borders, and enhance the nation’s economic prosperity. Its mission is complex at ports of entry with broad law enforcement authorities tied to screening all foreign visitors, returning American citizens and imported cargo that enters the U.S. at more than 300 land, air and sea ports. The CBP’s mission includes is to:
Counter Terrorism – Anticipate, detect and disrupt the threat of terrorists, their weapons and actions to protect the people and economy of the United States.
Combat Transnational Crime – Detect, deter and disrupt transnational organized crime that threatens U.S. national and economic security interests at and beyond the border.
Secure the Border – Protect the Homeland through the air, land and maritime environments against illegal entry, illicit activity or other threats to uphold national sovereignty and promote national and economic security.
Facilitate Lawful Trade and Protect Revenue – Enable fair, competitive and compliant trade and enforce U.S. laws to ensure safety, prosperity and economic security for the American people.
Facilitate Lawful Travel – Enhance, enable and transform the travel experience by anticipating, detecting and intercepting threats prior to and at ports of entry.
The travel industry is slowly bouncing back after 18 months in a worldwide pandemic. But, with plane and pilot shortages, the future of travel is well – up in the air.
Five thousand pilots accepted early retirement offers from mainline U.S. carriers aviation consultant Kit Darby told industry publication Travel Weekly. Airlines are anticipating reaching the 2019 travel level by next year or in 2023, but in order to grow, pilots need to be replaced fast and at a higher capacity.
Airports are catching on and are becoming creative on how to combat this shortage. Over the next two decades, it’s projected that 87 new pilots will need to be trained and ready to fly a commercial airliner every day to meet the demand for air travel. Overall employment of airline and commercial pilots is estimated to grow 6% from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Flight training schools have popped up across the country and at CRW in response to the pilot shortage. Kristen Sayre is one of three women in CRW’s Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School’s inaugural class.
“This was a great time to start school because the demand for pilots is only going to increase, especially for women pilots opportunity an even greater opportunity for women in aviation. I think the national statistic for women pilots is 8%, and it’s even longer for career pilots. So right now, there are three of us out of 18 students; we are defying the statistic right now, which is awesome,” Sayre said.
It only took 363 days of construction on CRW’s Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School, where future pilots have a state-of-the-art building and hangar for their education and training.
“It’s a four-year program. The school just got started up a few months ago. It all came together so quickly, as everyone knows. It b took a year for them to set it all up, which is awesome considering all that,” Sayre said.
Ben Epperly is in Sayre’s class. For him, his flight path was always clear.
“Since I was a kid, I have always liked aviation: the sights, the sounds. Always being at the airport. Its excitement in the air” said Epperly.
Marshall University’s planned Commercial Pilot: Fixed Wing, B.S. degree program will help meet the nation’s projected significant need for commercial pilots over the next 20 years. In addition, its ground and flight courses will lead to many FAA certifications and prepare graduates to become commercial pilots of single and multi-engine aircraft.
“I will definitely fly commercial but with an airline, but ii may start corporate first,” Sayre said.
“To be a commercial pilot and fly any airline I can get a hold of. Delta, American all that to fly internationally is what I want to do,” Epperly said.
The new bachelor’s degree program just began in the fall 2021 semester.
Yeager Airport Director and CEO Nick Keller plans to grow the program and bring West Virginia an extra economic boost.
QUESTION: ONE OF THE GOALS OF THE PROGRAM IS TO INVEST IN AVIATION EDUCATION AND CREATE QUALITY JOBS. WHERE DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE BILL NOE FLIGHT SCHOOL IN THE NEXT YEAR? HOW CAN WE HELP THE PILOT SHORTAGE?
“West Virginia and Marshall Bill Noe Flight School and Yeager Airport play a key role in reversing the pilot shortage and help add new pilots. Where I want to see the flight school now is to continue adding new students every semester. In addition, Marshall has new aircraft on order. So imagine in 5 years, over 200 full-time college students going to school at Yeager Airport through Marshall University, graduating up to 50 pilots a year. There is also the opportunity for Marshall to add in different degree programs in aviation management or aerospace engineering.”
QUESTION: WHAT IS THE AIRLINE PILOT CADET PROGRAM?
“One of the things the airport is doing is we are talking to airlines partnering with Marshall University for cadet programs. The program is a pathway for someone who is in pilot training to get a guaranteed job at an airline once they graduate. So they can start with an airline and get into the program; this would help students compete in the economy.”
The Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School will enroll more than 200 students and produce some 50 commercial pilots annually when in full operation.
The curriculum will teach students aeronautics, navigation, flight control, and communication systems.
The incentive to get more pilots is enticing. Based on national data, professional pilots enjoy a great ROI, estimated at 55x, compared to other popular professions like engineers, attorneys, and physicians, estimated at 30-40x.
“It’s the perfect time for us, I mean, especially w this location here and all the job opportunities we will be able to get, and it won’t take very long,” said Epperly.
The median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $147,220 in 2019, while the median yearly salary for commercial pilots was $86,080.
The Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority has received a $5.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct an Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
The Yeager Airport Runway Safety Project, as proposed by the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority, would establish a standard 1,000-foot-long by 500-foot-wide runway safety area at both ends of Runway 5-23 and provide a runway length of 7,000 feet. The proposed improvements would require an estimated 12.8 million to 20 million cubic yards of fill to accommodate the proposed runway shift and standard safety areas.
A successful EIS project will allow the Runway Safety Project to move forward and make room for 50 to 60 extra acres of developable land, which could be used for aeronautical purposes such as hangars, industrial parks, and more aircraft parking.
“If the Environmental Impact Study is mitigated and the Runway Safety Project moves forward, it has a potential economic impact of $300 million and hundreds of construction jobs,” said Yeager Airport Director and CEO Nick Keller.
Local leaders are also on board with the project.
“It is great news that Yeager Airport is receiving this funding to conduct an environmental impact study ahead of their runway safety project,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito said. “As our state’s largest airport, it’s important that Yeager Airport has the facilities and resources needed to handle the volume of travelers that come through every day while providing the opportunity to grow. Today’s announcement is encouraging for Charleston, the surrounding communities, frequent travelers through Yeager Airport, and the entire state of West Virginia.”
“Yeager Airport serves a critical role in driving economic development throughout the entire state of West Virginia. This investment from the FAA is welcomed news and an important step towards the continued expansion of Yeager Airport,” said Senator Joe Manchin.
The project is part of the airport’s long-term goal to be West Virginia’s most significant economic engine in the state.
A study done by the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission says Yeager Airport is responsible for nearly 3,000 jobs and has a $225-million economic impact in the state. Yeager Airport is the largest commercial Airport in West Virginia, with service provided by American, Delta, Spirit, and United Airlines. The Airport’s Organizational Vision is: “To become the most important economic engine for the state through advances in aviation and education.” Yeager Airport, in conjunction with the West Virginia National Guard, hosts the Home Base Program. The program works to facilitate military ground, tactical, and air training in West Virginia.
Want to know about about the EIS Grant and the runway safety project? Click the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-Ua7Aw0nsI
PRESS RELEASE -RACHEL URBANSKI