BEAUFORT -- Michael J. Smith Field in Beaufort may soon get a lot busier because a $3.1- million runway extension project will allow more types of aircraft to land there.
The current runway is 4,249 feet long but is too short to handle chartered jets or other large aircraft.
Beaufort-Morehead Airport Authority chairman Ken Lohr said extending the runway to 5,000 feet will bring in aircraft that usually land elsewhere.
"The airport authority is real excited to get this project underway and we think it will be great for the county that the larger aircraft will be able to come here instead of going to New Bern," said Lohr
FAA rules require longer runways for jets although there is a small loophole that allows certain jets to land at MRH but Southern Air owner Ryan Segrave says not many do.
"The extended runway will allow any jet aircraft to come in whether it's chartered or privately owned. Essential right now you need to be part owner of an airplane right now to come in," said Segrave.
Over $2.8 million in funding for the project came from the NC Division of Aviation and the rest, about $215,000, came from a federal grant.
Construction is expected to begin and June and will take about three months to complete.