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A new maintenance contractor must be found for the Olean Municipal Airport's radio beacon, which is used as a navigation aid by most private aircraft including many small jets.

The service has been performed through a contractor with Bell Communications in Olean for about $720 a year, but that individual recently retired, and the company no longer is in business, said Peter Marcus, the city's director of public works.

A new contractor may cost up to $4,000, he said.

"It's an old technology," he added, noting that the failure of a nondirectional radio beacon was responsible for the plane crash last year in Croatia that killed U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

Marcus said very few aircraft have installed state-of-the-art satellite geographic positioning systems in the cockpit for instrument approaches. So airport staff decided to continue using the nondirectional beacon while working toward future installation of a geographic positioning system.

A new contractor must be found with the help of the airport's fixed base operator, Flight Services Group, Marcus said.

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