By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com
(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton Airport Board decided by consensus last Friday to gather more research before they would consider an airport self-fueling station.
Board member Bob Steen raised the issue at Friday’s meeting, saying it would be a convenience issue for pilots. “Most that I know of are privately funded because they are a good money maker for the airports,” Steen said. “As I pilot, whenever I go to a place the first consideration is the availability of fuel. Especially with General Aviation and the tough times now due to the economy, fuel prices are high so pilots are looking for every way to make it more convenient.”
Airport Fixed Base Operator Jim Steinhoff said he had investigated such a system, but found them to be too expensive. “For me, it doesn’t make sense at this time with all the aging pilots, people aren’t flying as much now. I didn’t think it made sense to invest $75,000 for a small system, and that would just be the initial costs,” he said. “Other factors could double that.” Steinhoff said he had just purchased a new cab and chassis that he’ll put a tank on. “It will make a more reliable delivery system for me,” he said. He said that even though seven students are in ground school in Riverton now, with the number of retiring pilots and those who have not flown for years, “I don’t think we’ll have a chance in our pilot population.”
Steen said installation of such a system could make the airport more attractive to general aviation pilots and result in more fuel sales. He said he also though a small system could be found for around $35,000.
“We dont want to do anything to harm Jim’s FBO,” said Airport Manger Bill Uribigkit. “We’ll have to put a business model together that didn’t harm Jim. We could buy the fuel and have him run it, as one option,” Urbigkit said. “But we need to do a market analysis to make sure it would generate enough business to pay for it.”
Steen said several Wyoming airports already have such a system, Casper, Gillette, Greybull and Cowley, for example. “A good solution is a partnership with private enterprise like we have with Jim. We should be open to an opportunity if it comes up,” Steen said.