Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority officials cut the ribbon on a new terminal building at Smith Field airport Monday.
The new terminal, at 902 W. Ludwig Road, features significant enhancements aimed at improving the customer experience at the general aviation airport, including a customer service counter just inside the airfield entrance, a multipurpose room for meetings and training seminars, new office space, and 24-hour restrooms.
Outside amenities include a patio area with front-row seats to the airfield and a new aircraft fueling area.
The fueling area is equipped with new pumps and digital LED displays, making the equipment easier to use for pilots and other airport customers. The fuel tanks are also now above ground, making it easier for workers to perform inspections and maintenance.
The new terminal is the former Ivy Tech Community College building, which was home to the college’s Airframe and Powerplant program, which is now housed on Cook Road. Classes began there last fall.
“The old terminal building was 35 years old and lacked the space needed to sufficiently serve our customers and business partners,” said Scott Hinderman, executive director of Airports for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority. “Now, we have plenty of space for our staff and pilots, and also room to grow, which is exactly what we see general aviation doing in Fort Wayne.”
Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters said the 85-year-old airport has an annual economic impact of about $8 million, and the new terminal is the physical embodiment of officials’ dedication to aviation in Fort Wayne and its effect on the quality of lif
The new terminal gives Sweet Aviation, Smith Field’s flight instruction and aircraft rental operator, hangar and office space for ground school classes and even enough room for them to add aircraft maintenance services.
Before the ribbon-cutting, the airport authority board conducted a meeting during which members unanimously rejected all bids for a parking lot revamp at Fort Wayne International Airport.
Officials had been planning to move the rental car parking lot from its location next to the terminal into part of the area covered by the short-term parking lot.
Hinderman said the rental lot was dysfunctional because of its shape and location, while the short-term parking lot had about double the capacity needed.
But the bids for the work came in double what was expected, and Hinderman said there simply isn’t money in the budget for that. Upon examination, he said, the firm that designed the project found it had overlooked several items and has offered to redesign the project, fixing the errors, at no cost.
Officials were hoping construction could start by July 1. Hinderman said officials now hope to have it redesigned and perhaps a small portion of it could be done by fall.