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About Nebraska Airports


The Nebraska Department of Aeronautics is an independent cabinet-level department that reports directly to the governor. This is not common among other states. Only 5 other states have independent aeronautics or aviation departments. In most other states, you'll find the aeronautics division under the Department of Transportation, along with highways, railroads, buses and trails.

The department's director is appointed by the governor. The director oversees the department's operations. The governor also appoints a five member Aeronautics Commission. The commissioners serve 5-year terms, which are staggered so that one member is appointed each year in March. The Commission's general duties are to advise the Governor regarding the appointment and performance of the director and to act in an advisory capacity to the director. The Commission's specific duties are to:

  1. Select projects to receive state grants and loans.
  2. Approve the use of federal funds by airports.
  3. Approve the sites of new airports.
  4. Approve the purchase of state aircraft.
  5. Approve pilots to be employed by state.
  6. Assist the director on the department's regulations and policies.

The department has four divisions - Engineering, Navigational Aids, Operations and Administration.

Engineering Division Duties

  • Help airport sponsors apply for federal grants and to comply with the grant requirements. All federal funds must pass through the department by state law.
  • Administer the state's grant and loan programs for airports. The division approves plans, specifications, contracts and payments. The division attends planning meetings and preconstruction meetings and conducts project inspections.
  • Inspect airports. This is done annually along with the Operations Division.
  • Inspect airport pavement and report on its condition. This is done on a three-year cycle. The division uses this information to predict when overlays and repairs will be needed.
  • Assist airport sponsors with local height restriction zoning. The division has drawn many zoning maps for airports.
  • Prepare a capital improvement plan for all Nebraska airports. This lists eligible airport developments and when federal or state funds might be available.
  • Review notices of construction for conflicts with airports.
  • Prepare and maintain the State Airport Systems Plan.

Navigational Aids Division

This division is located on the Kearney airport. The NDA owns, and this division maintains, 8 VORs, 1 DME, 35 NDBs, 1 fan marker, 9 AWOS IIIs and 72 rotating beacons. The division also leases low intensity runway lighting systems to approximately 20 airports.

This equipment is provided to airports on a cost-share basis. The airport provides shelters and utilities and pays the department for approximately one-half of NDB maintenance costs and one-third of VOR, DME and AWOS maintenance. The division staff conducts the annual beacon maintenance, charging the airport only for parts if needed. The staff also assists airports in maintaining their leased lighting systems.

This division works with the FAA to get instrument approaches established. They are also a

Resource State Owned Airfields

The department owns and operates airports near Fairmont, Harvard and Scribner. These are surplus World War II air bases that were sold by the federal government. Each airport has a resident manager. This division's duties also include:

  • Operation of the crack and joint sealing program for most other public-use airports.
  • Operation of the marking program for other airports.
  • Acting as a resource for surplus property available to locally owned airports, including state and federal surplus property.
  • Management of a few leases at the old Bruning and McCook air bases. The NDA still owns part of the old Bruning base and owns oil and gas rights near McCook.