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(L-r) Stephen Williams, DRBA director of airports; Richard Downes, DRBA commissioner for Kent County; Scott Green, DRBA executive director; U.S. Rep. John Carney; DSU President Harry Williams; U.S. Sen. Chris Coons; Lori Pagnanelli, FAA Harrisburg District manager; U.S. Sen. Tom Carper; and j William Lowe, DRBA vice chairman pose for a group shot after announcement of funding for runway expansion at the Del. Airpark.

  DSU Aviation Program to Benefit From Runway Expansion

DSU President Harry L. Williams joined U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, U.S. Rep. John Carney and Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Executive Director Scott Green on Aug. 18 to announce a $5 million dollar grant to update and expand the Delaware Airpark.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coon (r) gets some aircraft pointers from DSU aviation sophomore Justin Thompson.

The DSU Aviation Program – which maintains its fleet of 11 planes and conducts its flight training at the Delaware Airpark – will benefit greatly from the runway expansion that the grant will fund.

The announcement took place during a media event held that the main hangar of the airpark. Also in attendance were Capt. Stephen Speed, DSU Aviation Program director, instructors and students, as well as other officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the DRBA.

This project is Phase XI of an ongoing multi-year project to expand the airport by constructing a new runway, its parallel taxiway, connector taxiways and apron system. It will include site preparation, environmental mitigation and construction of a new airport perimeter road.

“DSU is a major tenant at the Delaware Airpark, and these updates will help with the safety of the facility,’ said Dr. Williams.

Sen. Carper said the grant award announcement is a “win-win” for Kent County. “The improvements will not only create jobs, but it will provide a better training facility for students at DSU,” Delaware’s senior senator said. “This is a great example of the federal government creating a nurturing environment for job growth and job training on the local level.”

“We must continue to invest in America’s infrastructure,” said Sen. Coons. “Investing in our roads, bridges, highways and our airports lead to economic opportunities. As Delaware Airpark continues to develop, it means more job opportunities and significant improvements for the aviation students at Delaware State University and commercial entities who utilize the airport.”

Capt. Stephen Speed, director of the DSU Aviation Program (left, being interviewed by WDDE-FM's Karl Malgiero), said the longer and wider runway will give students more landing space.

“My most important role in Congress is finding ways to put Delawareans back to work, and proper funding and updates to our infrastructure makes that job a lot easier,” said Congressman Carney. “A runway extension at Delaware Airpark helps the airport compete for business regionally, enhances Delaware State University’s pilot training courses, and puts Kent County in a better position to take advantage of economic opportunities.  It’s a good project for Kent and all of Delaware.”

In addition to being the home of the DSU Aviation Program, the Delaware Airpark also serves the general aviation needs of central Delaware and Dover. 

Capt. Speed said the improvements will convert a current runway into a taxiway and create a new and longer east-to-west runway that will also be wider than the existing one. “It will improve the safety margin and give our instructors more flexibility in what they allow the students to do in their training,” he said.