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Revamped runways reopen at Van Nuys (VNY); celebration includes flight of Cessna 152 powered by UL94

Photos courtesy of Jonathan O'Rourke / Hot Shots AviationA $13.1 million-dollar improvement project at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) is now complete with two runways now open after six months of construction. The project rebuilt the entire 4,000-foot length of Runway 16L/34R, along with adding LED lighting, airfield signage, surface markings and a run-up safety area, according to a statement from the airport. "As one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country, Van Nuys Airport is proud to provide our tenants and visitors with facilities that will enhance safety and efficiency for decades to come," said Los Angeles World Airports CEO Justin Erbacci in a statement. The repair work is expected to extend the life of the runway for another two decades. The base of the runway was made completely with recyclable materials. "Los Angeles World Airports' investment in this runway asset, together with the commitment of its tenant business partners at VNY who are leading efforts to introduce environmental improvements, maximizes the airport's status as a leading center for new industry pilots, jobs and positive economic benefits to the city of Los Angeles," said Van Nuys Airport Association President Curt Castagna. Van Nuys Airport, one of the busiest business and general aviation airports in the world, had more than 300,000 takeoffs and landings last year.Monday's reopening celebration featured a ceremonial first flight, with a pilot with the Hot Shot Aviation flight school taking off from the renovated runaway in a 1979 Cessna 152 that runs on UL94, sustainable aviation fuel for piston aircraft.GlobalAir.com spoke with Hot Shot Aviation co-owner Jonathan O'Rourke; he privately owns the Cessna 152 aircraft and leases it back to the school. O'Rourke has owned the plane for around five years and made the modifications to switch to UL94 several weeks ago. He said he is already seeing a return on the investment. It cost just over $100 for O'Rourke to buy the necessary placards and Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), and he said the paperwork was updated and approved in less than an hour. Hot Shot Aviation worked on the project for the conversion with Signature Flight Support. "To be honest with you, we love it more than low lead," O'Rourke said. "We haven't fouled a spark plug yet. … These things have been spotless." He also noted that 100LL "mixes perfectly" when refueling at other airports that do not offer UL94 fuel. Replacing spark plugs and related maintenance used to be a summer routine for the team at Hot Shot Aviation, but that has not been the case for the UL94 certified aircraft in its fleet. That includes a Piper Archer and a Piper Twin Comanche that O'Rourke believes to be the only twin-piston aircraft on the field at VNY running on UL94. "This stuff pays for itself," he said. "On the 152, it paid for itself in 15 hours in fuel savings alone." Last month, planes rented from Hot Shot Aviation flew 97 hours, O'Rourke said, 46 of them on UL94. "We have not had a single renter complain," he said.
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