It could cost about $400,000 to connect North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field to radar services near the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, county and airport officials estimate. The update came Thursday morning during a meeting in which the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority discussed the budget for the next fiscal year.
The topic of radar service at the airport has been a recurring topic following NTRA’s admission into the Federal Aviation Administration’s Contract Tower Program in late 2018, and officials have said that this is the next step that needs to be taken to encourage development and growth.
“This is just one more feather in our cap that can put us in the big leagues,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said Friday.
NTRA Airport Director Bob Torti said he was about 30 days into the process to determine if the airport should have radar services. However, he was uncertain when there might be a decision in the matter.
In previous meetings, Torti said the airport meets many of the criteria needed for radar, including the number of operations it conducts. With the level of usage, he said it was a safety matter, and with the proximity to DFW airport, there are a high number of aircraft flying through NTRA’s airspace creating a need to track traffic locally.
At the time, Torti suggested that radar service would likely be sent to NTRA from DFW Airport — about 65 miles away. However, since then an alternative source has been suggested in the form of a radar station is Sachse, he said. It is this station that is now the preferred source.
In order to transmit the information, Torti said the airport will need two dedicated T1 transmission lines. The tower is scheduled to be equipped with a third line needed for the contract tower program this fall, and Torti said he wanted to see if it would be possible to combine these projects into one and complete them at the same time.
“I had visions of running this cable for miles and miles and miles, but that is not the case,” he said.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the funding for the project is one of the big questions hanging over the project. Typically, the FAA will pay for the project, but it could take two to three years before NTRA moves to the front of the line. Alternatively, the airport could install the upgrades now at its own expense and be repaid by the FAA some time in the future.
Magers said the county is prepared to assist, but has not determined which option it will ultimately pursue.
“Grayson County is in great financial shape,” he said. “My desire would be to complete this sooner than later.”
With the addition of radar, Magers said he believes it will serve as yet another marketing tool for the airport in addition to its safety implications. This could lead developers and companies who were once hesitant to build at the airport to reconsider it, he said.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter. He can be reached at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.