County commissioners approve spending for staff increase at NTRA

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Tuesday Grayson County Commissioners approved spending just over $20,000 dollars to increase staffing in the air control tower at North Texas Regional Airport, Perrin Field.

Airport Director Mike Shahan says it's normal for airport operations to expand by 5% in a year but air traffic here grew by about 120% between 2012 and 2013.

Shahan said, "It's pretty rare."

He says with operations more than doubling they need contractors in the tower to work more hours.

Operations at North Texas Regional Airport, Perrin Field are growing and at a rate faster than most airports.

Airport Director Mike Shahan says they need an extra $21,000 dollars now but by 2015 they should get into the contract tower program. That means the federal aviation administration would pay for the cost of the controllers, freeing up about $200,000 dollars a year.

Shahan says a good part of the growth, can be attributed to the U.S. Aviation Academy at the airport.

Vice president and co-owner of the aviation academy Mark Taylor said, "I would have to agree with that. Absolutely. We've made a significant contribution to the economic development of the community and certainly the airport."

Taylor says commercial pilots are in high demand and NTRA provides a great facility to accommodate their growing number of students.

Taylor said, "We have a very strong track record with tremendous growth, we have no reason to think it's gonna stop."

The academy is currently partnering with multiple community colleges to provide pilot training. Taylor says that the majority of their students are international, and the academy is now generating about $7 million dollars for the local economy.

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