FBO Profile: FlightLevel Aviation at BXM

 - December 3, 2013, 1:40 AM

Since transitioning to a civil facility in April 2011, Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM) in Maine has seen steady growth in general and business aviation activities. Nowhere is that better illustrated than by its FBO, FlightLevel Aviation. The FBO, which has occupied a portion of a pre-existing building from the start of the airport’s civil operations, plans to move into a new purpose-built site by late spring. Meanwhile, its current space, although less than ideal, is adequately providing customers with what they need.

“Our current space is basic and minimal,” FlightLevel Aviation president Peter Eichleay told AIN. “We’re effectively a 4,000-square-foot office that’s been converted to an FBO terminal. We’ve outfitted the space with a customer service desk, pilot lounge, flight-planning room and a few offices for our flight school and mechanic tenants.” It adjoins 170,000-sq-ft Hangar 6, which FlightLevel currently shares with Kestrel Aircraft (developer of a turboprop single) and Tempus Jets (an MRO new to BXM). “While we’ll have more space in the new terminal, more important, it will provide customers much better airside accessibility and visibility,” he said.

The new site is located directly parallel to the active runway (1R/19L) such that a turnoff at Taxiway Charlie near the 6,000-foot point after flying the ILS in will put customers onto FlightLevel’s parking ramp. “It will be much easier and more convenient for the flying public and also allow for better access to passengers and pilots who like to bring their vehicles out onto the ramp for planeside loading and unloading,” according to Eichleay. Now, customers “have to walk through the massive hangar bay to get to our transient ramp and parking areas.”

FlightLevel will continue to lease its current portion of Hangar 6 after it makes the move. The FBO will then have options for tenants to lease additional space and offices in Hangars 4 and 5 if the demand is there. “All together we’re talking about 40,000 to 60,000 square feet, which is heated and with door heights that can accommodate up to BBJ/737-size aircraft,” Eichleay said. Even now, its current hangar is heated. In addition, FlightLevel provides both pre-heating and Type I and Type IV de-icing capability. As a former Naval Aviation base, the facility offers ramp space that Eichleay describes as “basically limitless, acres and acres.”

Shell is the fuel brand of choice at BXM, as it is at all of FlightLevel’s locations: Norwood, Mass. (headquarters); Lakeland, Fla.; and Cape May, N.J. Normal operating hours during the peak season (mid-May to mid-October) are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Non-peak hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “However, we’re always available on-call and conduct late ops relatively frequently,” Eichleay said. The FBO owns its 30,000-gallon fuel farm, built in 2011, with foundations for an additional 20,000-gallon jet-A tank in the future. In the three years that FlightLevel has been pumping fuel at BXM, Eichleay said it has seen an average growth in fuel flowage of around 30 percent (excluding an airshow, future editions of which have not been scheduled at BXM in response to the military’s recent curtailment of providing flight demonstration teams to civilian-sponsored airshows).

Major MRO Business Coming to BXM

Maintenance at BXM, which has been provided by “informal partnerships and lessee” arrangements with FlightLevel, got a big boost recently from Tempus Jets of Newport News, Va. Over the next several months, that company will be relocating its FAR Part 145 repair station and VIP interior completions business from Richmond, Va., to BXM. FlightLevel’s facility also hosts tenant and partner Maine Coastal Flight, offering primary training through ATP in advanced aircraft.

As another example of FlightLevel’s progress at BXM, Eichleay notes that “we just got our government fueling contract through the Defense Logistics Agency, which, ironically, has yielded a noticeable return of military traffic to the airport.” Aside from the military, “we see a nice mix of corporates and charters. Bowdoin College, which is right next door, generates a good deal of traffic as does the summer home contingent typically going to the Casco Bay and the Midcoast regions of the state.”

Based aircraft now include several turboprops and a Gulfstream V. The FBO’s president estimates that transient aircraft operations are “probably about 60/40 piston-to-turbine, excluding flight-school activity.” Except for the occasional training exercise of Marine Corps Ospreys that FlightLevel has hosted during the spring and summer, rotorcraft operations are not yet a significant user of BXM, Eichleay said.

But of all the subjects that Eichleay is excited the most to talk about it is the new site for the FBO that he hopes FlightLevel can occupy at the start of next year’s peak season. “We’re going to make it a truly first-class facility, with all the finest comforts and amenities. It really will be a night-and-day difference from where we are today. We want the new terminal experience to evoke the aura of the Maine coast and aviation in general while providing a luxurious and relaxed feel for the passengers and crews who come through. It will include everything from fine furniture, fixtures and appointments, large high-definition arrival and departure displays and televisions, the latest flight-planning computers, crew rest areas, conference room, an exercise area and potentially a game room.”