TAG is ‘it’ as F’boro’s showcase FBO opens

 - January 4, 2008, 11:03 AM

TAG Aviation’s all-new business aviation facilities at the UK’s Farnborough Airport were due to go into operation at the end of last month. At press time, the company was about to receive the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) airport license that will allow it formally to take control of the airfield from the Ministry of Defence under a 99-year lease.

Based corporate flight departments and executive charter operators started moving their aircraft into the hangar complex on the north side of the airfield last month. The adjoining 15,000 sq ft of office accommodation is expected to be ready for occupancy by April.

Farnborough’s new ATC tower and radar went live early last month. A 20-acre apron is now available in the new northside enclave, along with a 92,460-gal fuel farm.
To date, about 60 percent of the 120,000 sq ft of hangar space has been leased to based operators. TAG Aviation commercial director Len Rayment said that even if more space is leased, he fully expects to have capacity to accommodate ad hoc operators most of the time, since based aircraft will often be away.

Early this year, work will begin on the three-story, 50,000-sq-ft ex-ecutive terminal next to the hangar complex. It is expected to be completed around the third quarter
of 2004.

TAG also has further plans to build two more hangar complexes of the same size as the new structure, which can take up to half a dozen BBJs or ACJs simultaneously. Other existing hangars on the north side are to be used for planned maintenance operations at the airport (subject to negotiations now under way with several interested parties).

The existing temporary terminal building on the south side of Farnborough is to be relocated to the new enclave in the next few months. This will be used as TAG Aviation’s own base.

Much of the land on the south side will now be returned to BAE Systems, which has its world headquarters immediately adjacent to this site. It is likely that the company’s daily shuttle operations to and from Farnborough will continue to be run from the old apron area.

Rayment told AIN that Farnborough was set to handle more than 15,000 business aircraft movements last year, marking a recovery to the traffic volume achieved in 2000. This follows a strong upturn in activity during the second half of the year, after a dip in business during the first six months. At the same time, there has been a sharp increase in the average size of aircraft using Farnborough, yielding an increase in landing fees and handling charges, producing more income for TAG, which reportedly has spent as much as $112 million on the redevelopment program.

Toward the end of year, TAG had to carefully ration weekend slots so as not to exceed the 2,500-movement limit at Farnborough. The airport’s total annual movement quota is currently set at 28,000. Aircraft weighing between 50 and 80 metric tons (110,230 lb to 176,368 lb, which includes BBJs and ACJs) are restricted to 1,500 movements per year.

TAG Aviation will be promoting its new Farnborough facilities at next month’s NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

To meet CAA requirements, the runway had to be completely reprofiled and resurfaced at a cost of $6 million, with the removal of surrounding obstructions that were permitted for military operations, including the infamous “Farnborough hump.” New runway and taxiway lights have been installed, as have new power lines and drainage. The significant threshold displacement has meant that aircraft approaching the airport are higher as they pass over surrounding homes, schools and offices and thus have a reduced noise footprint. The runway can accommodate BBJs at mtow.

Farnborough has further boosted its appeal to corporate operators with the introduction late last year of its Cat I ILS. With a displaced threshold at both ends of the main runway, the overall distance available for landing is 5,900 ft in
either direction.

Farnborough’s standard weekday opening hours are restricted to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Landing surcharges apply between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on all days.