TAG busily reshaping Farnborough Airport

 - May 19, 2008, 11:47 AM

Work has begun on TAG Aviation’s major redevelopment of Britain’s Farnborough airfield as a dedicated business aviation airport. The goal is to secure the required civil airport license for Farnborough (EGLF) by the end of December next year, with work on the new executive terminal and a first set of three hangars likely to be completed by mid-2003.

Under way already are a new air traffic control tower and the redevelopment of Runway 07/25. Most runway work will be conducted at night, but to expedite the project TAG has opted for three weekend closures at the airport over the following dates: August 18 to 19, August 25 to 27 and September 8 to 9. During the construction period, taxiway closures will be indicated with illuminated signs and controllers will advise on any temporary restrictions. The runway should be finished by the end of December and the tower by the end of next year.

One of the main improvements by year-end will be to have Farnborough’s instrument landing system operational to Cat I standards. The Civil Aviation Authority has insisted on displaced thresholds at both ends of the runway (1,050 ft on the southwest side and 1,070 ft on the northeast side), reducing landing distance to 6,800 ft. The runway is also being resurfaced and new airfield lights are being installed.

At a July 18 open house, TAG unveiled impressive designs for the terminal and hangars prepared by architects Geoffrey Reid & Associates. Outline planning permission has been granted for all construction and detailed approvals are being secured as each phase of the work begins.

The terminal building is a striking wing-shaped structure with three floors, offering almost 18,300 sq ft of office space. On the first floor there is a large lounge, kitchens, a computer suite, conference rooms, a chauffeur’s room, and customs and immigration facilities. The main operations area is located on the second floor, along with a crew room, snooze room, administration and a terrace with a ramp view. The third floor will house offices.

The complex will also feature two sets of three hangars, with each hangar offering 39,300 sq ft of space for aircraft. The middle hangar of each set will be high enough to accommodate the 41.2-ft-high tail of the Boeing BBJ2. The other two hangars will be fitted with cut-out door flaps to accommodate the large jets.

Each set of three hangars will include almost 8,200 sq ft of workshop area. Spread over two floors, each hangar set will offer almost 35,000 sq ft for office space for operators and maintenance providers. TAG has also agreed to purchase two “sheds” from Britain’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) for conversion into 75,000-sq-ft hangars.

Farnborough last year handled approximately 15,500 business aircraft movements. This was up 20 percent up from traffic levels in 1999 and exceeded the company’s target for this year. Traffic is expected to increase by another 10 to 15 percent this year.

TAG is expected to spend between $60 million and $100 million on the development on the northwest side of the airfield. It will operate the airfield under a 99-year lease from the UK Ministry of Defence that is understood to have cost almost $20 million.

Local authority permission for the development is based on an annual traffic ceiling of 28,000 movements, of which 1,500 (just over 5 percent) can be by aircraft weighing between 50- and 80 metric tons (110,229 lb to 176,000 lb). The 50-metric-ton classification means that business aircraft up to the size of the Gulfstream V do not fall within the restricted group, while the 80-metric-ton class takes the limit up to the 171,500-lb Boeing Business Jet (and narrowly including the 174,700-lb BBJ2) and the 167,380-lb Airbus Corporate Jetliner.

Farnborough’s weekday opening hours are restricted to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Landing surcharges apply between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays and on all weekends and holidays. TAG’s combined landing and handling fees at Farnborough range from £160 ($224) for a Cessna Citation II to £600 ($840) for a GV to £1,500 ($2,100) for a BBJ.