BA passenger walks with her luggage Thursday at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport. The airport recently received a grant that will go toward upgrading baggage screening equipment. The $4.3 million from the Transportation Security Administration is part of a $7.8 million terminal upgrade project, which was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in anticipation of more growth.
By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald

Federal funding for a major portion of the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport’s capital improvement plan was approved this week, paving the way for upgrades to screening capabilities that will be implemented next year.

On Tuesday, the Killeen City Council formally accepted a $4.3 million grant from the Transportation Security Administration that will be used to improve the airport’s baggage inspection system.

The project is part of the airport’s $7.8 million terminal upgrade project that was included in the capital improvement plan approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in anticipation of growth at the airport.

John Sutton, executive director of aviation for Killeen, said in a written response this week that the work was approved based on the rapid growth of the airport since its opening in 2004.

“It was becoming clear to all involved that the amount of checked baggage would begin to exceed the capacity of both the security screening equipment and the baggage belt system necessary to collect and transport the bags, within five years,” Sutton wrote. “Not upgrading and expanding would result in back-ups of the bags in the system leading to delays in take-off times. This would be unacceptable to everyone.”

A separate building expansion portion of the overall project is aimed at increasing the size of the north and south hold rooms used by passengers waiting to board, as well as expanding the area where bags are collected and inspected.

The construction, which will be funded by the FAA, is expected to begin sometime in 2013 as grant money becomes available, Sutton said. The design work for the expansion has largely been completed through use of a $750,000 FAA grant to the city last year.

“These projects when completed will allow us to continue to maintain a high level of customer service to the traveling public for the next eight to ten years,” Sutton said. “It will also increase the efficiency of moving checked baggage through the system while continuing to provide safety and security of the public as they travel through our airport.”