Project SOAR: A Summary
Why build a new runway and taxiway at Asheville Regional Airport?
Asheville Regional Airport is building a new runway and taxiway for three reasons. First, the existing runway (which was 50+ years old) was nearing the end of its useful life and would have required major reconstruction to continue its use into the future. Second, the existing runway did not meet the most current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements that were put in place long after our runway was originally constructed. Since our runway was constructed and opened in 1961, new required distances between taxiways and runways have been established by the FAA. The runway and taxiway at AVL were slightly closer together than the FAA now requires. The FAA gave AVL’s runway a “variance” since the new standards were put in place, with the understanding that when the time is right, this would be corrected.
The third reason for the project relates to the airport's 20+ year master plan. Upon completion of the new airfield, AVL will have land suitable for new aeronautical development, accessible to the runway on the new west-side taxiway.
Because the runway would be at the end of its useful life (within the next 5+ years), the FAA agreed that it is now time pursue this project at Asheville Regional Airport – one that will result in a runway that meets current standards and one that will carry air service for western North Carolina into the future for the next 50+ years.
Project SOAR is a $75 million, 4-phase construction program. FAA and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) grant funds will cover approximately 80% of the cost of the project and airport funds will cover 20% of the cost. The airport is not funded by local taxpayers, so no local tax funds will be involved in this project.
It is also important to note that the airport will remain open and operational throughout the duration of the project. To learn more about how the airport will operate during this five-year project, see Construction Phases and Info for Passengers.
Significance to Aviation & the Region
Significance to the Airport
While the construction of a new runway and taxiway will not be hugely visible to the region (let’s face it, all the construction is flat… there are no buildings involved!), the project is the biggest and most significant since the airport was constructed. The new airfield will carry the airport into the future for the next 50+ years, able to serve the growing air service needs of the region. The new runway will be able to accommodate the projected growth in air service volume as the region grows. Also, the addition of the new west-side taxiway fulfills a piece of the airport’s 20+ year master plan, which includes opening the west-side of the airfield for possible aeronautical development.
Significance to the Region
The ability to purchase an airline ticket and fly to just about anywhere in the world from AVL is an expectation of air travelers in the region. A dedicated airport board of directors and a team of aviation professionals are working every day to ensure that air service is strong, growing, and that the airport is poised and ready for future generations’ air service needs.
The project will positively affect our region in numerous ways:
- Growth — Future air service can grow to serve our region.
- Impact — With growing air service comes added economic impact to the region overall. The possible addition of aeronautical development could attract new businesses and jobs to the region.
- The Future — Western North Carolina can continue to grow and thrive as a competitive, vibrant region with strong air service offerings that support business and tourism.
Current economic impact to the region:
- Asheville Regional Airport contributes nearly 1.5 billion dollars in regional economic impact annually.