July 18, 2012

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) recently stressed the importance of investing in community airports, emphasizing the value of the general aviation industry in his home state of Oregon.

Wyden spoke during a visit to Bend Municipal Airport (BDN), a community airport that serves central Oregon. In his speech, Wyden explained how the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) directs funds to community airport development projects, enabling local aviation and construction businesses to thrive. Noting the ongoing work at Bend Municipal, Wyden said the AIP funds will bring, “safer airports, better runways, better terminals, better hangars and better taxiways like the one that’s being repaved right here.”

Bend Municipal was built in 1942, when a group of citizens deeded a small parcel of farmland to the city to establish a municipal landing strip and training site for military aviators. Today, the airport is a key gateway to central Oregon, with an estimated 42,000 annual operations. The single 5,260-foot runway serves most types of business aircraft, and more than 200 airplanes are based at the airport.

The runway renovations at Bend Municipal are important to attracting new businesses and jobs to the region, Wyden emphasized. “This community knows as well as any in Oregon the connection between quality airport infrastructure and the ability to bring aerospace industry jobs to the airport,” he said. “That translates into family-wage jobs that have a ripple effect throughout the community.”

In addition to airport improvements, Wyden pushed to include a provision in the FAA reauthorization bill to establish more testing areas for unmanned aerial systems nationwide, hoping to bring one to central Oregon. According to Wyden, the testing areas, “could be a tipping point that will bring companies to the region,” resulting in a stronger local economy and more jobs.

“The aerospace industry in central Oregon has focused on leading-edge technologies that have made this region a nationally known center of innovation and advancement,” said Wyden. “Bend Municipal Airport is already an excellent facility. Thanks to the [AIP], it is going to be that much closer to being an even better one.”