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Celebration Marks the Completion of the New $5.4M Ground Engine Run Up and Compass Calibration Pad Project at St. Louis Downtown Airport

CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, IL — A ribbon cutting recently celebrated the official opening of St. Louis Downtown Airport’s new Ground Engine Run-Up and Compass Calibration Pad project. Representatives of St. Louis Downtown Airport, Bi-State Development, the Illinois Department of Transportation, state and local elected officials, and invited guests were on hand for the ceremony, which took place in front of a GS550 aircraft at the new engine run-up facility.

The $5.4 million project benefits aircraft maintenance and manufacturing providers operating at St. Louis Downtown airport — the busiest general aviation airport in Illinois outside of Chicago — and it will support high-tech aerospace maintenance and trade skill jobs at the airport. $5 million in state funding was awarded for the project, which will help improve operational safety, boost airport businesses, and increase global competitiveness for Southwestern Illinois, St. Clair County, and the state of Illinois.

“We are especially happy to be here today because we are spotlighting our aviation system and a project at one of the state’s greatest airports,” said Jason Osborne, Director of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Office of Intermodal Project Implementation, during the event. “In Illinois we like to say our multimodal system is everything not highways; our transportation system gives us a competitive advantage. Under Governor Pritzker, we are putting action behind that talk. A $5 million commitment through Rebuild Illinois made this project possible.”

The Ground Engine Run-Up portion of the project includes new airfield pavement with jet blast deflectors to perform aircraft maintenance tests requiring the operation of an engine at high power on the ground for several minutes generating elevated noise levels. Up to 500 high-power engine run-up tests are expected to be conducted annually by the aircraft maintenance tenants. They have indicated that the existing locations for such tests are no longer sufficient given the powerful engines of today’s modern aircraft, which running at full throttle can cause blast damage more than 1,600 feet away. The new Engine Run-Up will be located 1,650 feet from other parked aircraft and isolated from airport operations. The area will reduce aircraft engine run-up noise by more than 50%.

The Compass Calibration Pad is all about safety. Aircraft have magnetic compasses on them, and it is important that those compasses are calibrated initially before a plane goes into service and that they are regularly calibrated for the safety of the crew and passengers because smooth operations depend on setting the aircraft’s magnetic compass to magnetic north. That is the direction that a compass needle points to as it aligns with the Earth’s magnetic field and it changes over time. Making sure the aircraft is set on magnetic north requires use of an area like the airport’s new compass calibration pad, completely and entirely free from any kind of magnetic influences. This allows the aircraft to slowly and deliberately move through the marked headings. That way a pilot knows the readings from the magnetic compasses on board the aircraft are true and accurate.

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“We put projects on the desks of our legislative team so we can make investments with our private sector partners and deliver the No. 1 thing we need. And of course, what is that one thing: J.O.B.S.,” said Taulby Roach, President of Bi-State Development which owns and operates St. Louis Downtown Airport. “It is about empowering our communities and delivering the kinds of jobs that we need not only here but in Missouri too. We needed to make these important improvements to support current and future operations of our key tenants at this airport. We greatly appreciate the generous financial support from the state of Illinois for these two projects.”

Baxmeyer Construction in Waterloo, Illinois, was the general contractor for the project, which took less than 10 months to complete.

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