Airplanes may be landing on artificial turf at the Pratt Regional Airport in the next few years.

The Pratt Airport Authority Board discussed the possibility during their regular monthly meeting Thursday afternoon at the Municipal Building.

The product is Av Turf and would cost about $1 million to cover the proposed 4,500 feet crosswind runway at the airport, said Airport Manager Reid Bell.

Funding would come from the airport's annual $150,000 entitlement money and it will take several years to set aside the necessary funds.

The new runway would be just south of the existing runway and be at a slight angle difference to avoid the feed mill at Pratt Feeders out of the protection zone. It will also avoid cattle pens.

The turf would be able to handle any aircraft that land at the airport now. However the proposed runway is 1,000 feet shorter than the primary runway (5,500) and some jets that land at the airport now would not be able to use the runway, Bell said.

The shorter runway should not pose much of a problem for those jets because the airport experiences very few days when a crosswind runway is necessary.

Turf, as opposed to concrete, is being considered because the runway would be used very little, it can handle almost anything that lands at the airport now and it is easy to maintain.

Artificial turf doesn't need to be mowed or watered, it doesn't need herbicide and sheds water nicely. It can also be painted with the necessary lines and numbers.

A turf runway is a better runway surface for planes than concrete because landing is rough on tires. Crop dusters make lots of takeoffs and landings and they will enjoy having a turf runway, Bell said.

Another reason to consider turf is that several years ago the Kansas National Guard was considering the Pratt airport as a possible site for a training center.

To simulate the kind of landing areas they would encounter, the National Guard needs turf-landing areas because concrete runways will not always be available, Bell said.

Having a turf runway could still be appealing to the National Guard.

Whatever the final runway surface, it will from six to seven years to raise the money before the airport can begin construction.

While the airport wants the new runway, that project will have to wait. The airport is currently working on funds for two new 10,000 gallon fuel tanks, one for Jet A and one for low lead fuel. The old underground tanks were installed in 1976 and need to be replaced with above ground units.

"We're in need of fuel tanks now," Reed said.

The combined cost of the tanks is $450,000. Funding for the tanks will come from entitlement money and it will take three years to save enough to pay for the tanks.

The airport has a master plan for growth and the new tanks were to be placed beside the eventual new hanger location just north and east of the current terminal. The Federal Aviation Administration will have to approve the new location.

Evaluation of the new site revealed additional concrete would be needed to install the tanks by the proposed new hanger, Bell said.

To save money, it was decided that the tanks would be placed above ground by the existing fuel island just west of the terminal building on the opposite side of the taxiway.

Besides the new fuel tanks and runway, a new $3.5 million terminal building and hanger are also in the works but they are on hold until the other projects are complete.