BULLHEAD CITY — The proposed master plan for Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport got a little public scrutiny Wednesday night during the third public information workshop in the lobby of the airport’s main terminal. “This is the final phase of the study process,” said Matt Quick, of Coffman Associates, a national aviation consulting firm that specializes in airport planning duties.
Coffman Associates was chosen by the Mohave County Airport Authority to prepare the 20-year plan that forecasts growth and needs for the airport in Bullhead City.
“It’s an 18-month process,” Quick said, then hedged that by adding, “We started this in late 2019, then COVID broke out in the middle of it.” Still, the final version of the plan that will help guide airport authorities — and, in a sense, other entities in the Tri-state — should be completed for presentation to the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of 2021, Airport
Director Jeremy Keating said.
Quick provided several “guided tours” of a half-dozen easels, each containing one component of the plan, as members of the public drifted in and out of the open house-style workshop. Keating also provided explanations of the plan as
more people showed up.
Quick showed projections of three key elements of airport use — enplanements, operations and airport-based aircraft — and said that the projects began with actual numbers from 2018 and estimates that used data from the FAA, the airport authority and the aviation industry. The projections showed modest growth at IFP (International Fun Place) — the three-letter
FAA designation for Laughlin/Bullhead International — over the next 30 years. Using those projections, Coffman Associates then showed the impact of that data on facilities requirements at the airport as well as alternatives and,
eventually, the recommended concept.
“This serves as a road map on what the airport will look like down the road,” he said. Keating said some components of airport growth will be contingent on funding sources, such as federal grants, as well as continued revenue from charter
flights, general aviation and military operations that use the airport. And that funding, he said, is evaluated on a yearly basis.
“It’s based on several things,” he said. “The priorities of the FAA, our passenger count …. But just because we have those projections and those plans, it doesn’t mean we’ll be able to do everything we want.” But, he said, the airport couldn’t prepare for future projects without the master plan, which is required by the FAA. “It’s a moving target from year to year,” Keating said. “We have to be prepared.” One visitor asked Keating the maximum size of an aircraft that could lands at the airport.
“I know we’ve had a 747 land here before,” the man said. “Yes, we had a 747 — a relatively high-profile 747 — land here,” Keating said, a reference to Air Force One, which brought then-President Donald Trump to the airport for a campaign rally in October. Explaining that the airport would need a little more runway to handle a fully loaded 737, Keating said that runway extension could wind up in the master plan — if it is deemed essential.
“We need to find out how many (737s) would use the airport if they could land here,” he told the questioner, “but that’s an example of something that could be in the master plan. It doesn’t mean it would happen right away.” The purpose of the public information session was to develop feedback. That was accomplished in part by direct comments both Quick and Keating received during their interactions with visitors Wednesday night. It also will include written comments that may be mailed, emailed or submitted online. “This is what we want from these information sessions,” Keating said. “We
want people here who use the airport, who can tell us what they like or don’t like, what they think we need. We want to get as much input as possible.” The airport authority also received input from a 20-member public advisory committee, made up of stakeholders — the FAA, pilots, airport-based businesses and tenants, city officials, representatives from the Laughlin
resorts and others who have a vested interest in the operation of the airport. For more information about the master plan, go to http://laughlinbullhead.airportstudy.com/.