By Matt Olberding
November 5, 2011 11:00 pm
With Duncan Aviation rebounding from the recession and now in expansion mode, the Lincoln Airport has decided to take a look at how the general aviation area of the airport should grow.
The Airport Authority last month approved paying $31,000 for a master plan study of the east side of the airport, where Duncan and other private aviation businesses are located.
Airport Executive Director John Wood said that to his knowledge, it will be the first time the airport has embarked on a planning study specifically for the general aviation area.
Wood said that Duncan’s growth plans, “show that we can’t just keep going willy nilly and grabbing whatever’s available.”
Duncan is building a new paint hangar to the south of its existing buildings and has plans for a new maintenance hangar.
The company earlier this year said the maintenance hangar would likely be three to five years in the future, but Wood said it’s looking like Duncan could move that time frame up by a year or two.
Jeff Lake, Duncan’s chief operating officer, said it’s possible, if the economy continues to improve, that Duncan may look to build a new maintenance hangar early.
But he said those plans are still far from settled.
“We haven’t decided anything for sure,” Lake said.
Duncan needs to upgrade its facilities in Lincoln to deal with a growing trend of larger corporate jets.
Lake said most of its existing hangars were built 20 or 30 years ago when private jets were smaller.
The 45,000-square-foot paint hangar, scheduled to be completed next spring, will give Duncan the ability to handle paint jobs on larger corporate jets. The company is hoping that capacity will lead to more demand for maintenance for those same planes, which will in turn lead to the need for more updated and larger facilities.
While the airport has plenty of vacant land — hundreds of acres — it doesn’t have a whole lot of what Lake calls “usable” space.
Much of the land has no utilities and presents logistical issues in terms of access to airside infrastructure and roads.
Lake said Duncan has for some time been pushing the airport to come up with a plan for long-range growth in the general aviation area.
“It’s definitely something we think they need to be looking at,” Lake said.
Wood said infrastructure needs and their costs will be a big focus of the master plan study, as will whether the exisiting land and buildings are being used to their maximum potential. The study should take about six months.
Though it’s being driven by Duncan’s plans, Wood said the study will take into account other general aviation businesses’ needs.
While Duncan is the only company with concrete plans on the table, Wood said both Silverhawk Aviation and Hillaero have expressed some growth needs.
“We can’t do things just for Duncan, we’ve got other entities out there,” he said.
Wood said he’s had one meeting so far with general aviation tenants and the response to the plan was positive.
Officials from Silverhawk, which provides aviation services, including fuel and chartered planes, could not be reached for comment.
Carol Swigart, president of Hillaero, which like Duncan does aircraft modifications, said she was unable to attend the first tenant meeting but said planning to maximize future growth is definitely a good thing.
“I think it will be a positive for all the general aviation tenants out here,” she said.
Source: LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR