When time is money, more North Dakota businesses are flying to get the job done.
General aviation needs have increased substantially in the state.
Last fall, Bismarck Aero Center added a location at the Mandan Airport to keep up with demand.
“There’s been business use of airplanes, but not like it is today,” said Bob Simmers of Bismarck Aero Center.
While many flew for pleasure or convenience before, “Now it’s a necessity,” Simmers said.
According to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, there are close to 100 general aviation planes at the Bismarck Airport and about 69 in Mandan, a significant increase over previous years.
With increased numbers comes increased need for space to store them and space to work on them. Due to zoning laws, all of the work done on planes by Bismarck Aero Center has to be done in the general avaiation area and not in private hangars.
Mandan continues to be used more by recreational flyers, Simmers said.
“That’s always been the niche of the Mandan airport,” he said.
As space opens up there, pleasure pilots move in. It’s also easier for aerial crop sprayers to fly out of there.
Simmers said the number of flying lessons his business gives has increased as well. He has seen more pilots buying airplanes and then learning to fly them than before.
“Some of these guys are doing it (getting their pilot’s license) in record time,” Simmers. “They’ve made a business decision. They really commit to it daily to get it done.”
What used to take two to three months, many business pilots are getting done inside of two months now.
Simmers said the benefit of flying is it puts business people in the position to be somewhere when they need to be. If they have to travel 150 miles for a job, they can be there in an hour with an airplane as opposed to about three hours in a car.
“This (the energy industry) is a fast-moving, high profile industry,” Simmers said.
In the time it takes employees to drive to a job site, employees are able to get there by air, do the job and move on to the next.