Farnborough Air Show

TAG opens new Farnborough digs

 - November 15, 2006, 11:37 AM

Farnborough Airport sealed its standing as a primary European hub for business aviation in May when TAG Aviation opened its new terminal building. Glance across the main runway from the Farnborough International show site and you will see this gleaming glass-and-metal structure with a crowd of top-of-the-line executive jets parked in front.

The new terminal is more than just a luxury lounge for well-healed fliers (although it is this too). Such is the scale of business aircraft activity at Farnborough today that the airport has recently drawn leading manufacturers Bombardier and Cessna to establish their European sales and customer support offices here. Embraer has also opened an office in the new 50,000-sq-ft building and Gulfstream has been in residence for some time.

TAG, which operates the airport under a 99-year lease from the UK’s Ministry of Defence, wants to expand Farnborough’s business aircraft support infrastructure by attracting specialist companies. In particular, it would like to see more capability for maintaining avionics, engines, and wheels and brakes.

The group is also talking to Bombardier about the possibility of establishing a factory-authorized service center here. Its TAG Farnborough Engineering subsidiary already provides line maintenance for a wide variety of business aircraft and is especially experienced with Raytheon Beechcraft and Hawker types.

Alongside the new three-story terminal building is a 120,000-sq-ft hangar/office structure topped with an unusual, wave-like roof. Office space at the airport now measures 270,000 sq ft and the TAG board of directors recently approved plans to build another 120,000-sq-ft structure that would mirror the one next to the terminal. This new facility, with its additional office space, is expected to open in 2008. The airport also boasts some 15 acres of ramp space and a state-of-the-art air traffic control tower.

Passengers and crew can be welcomed in the terminal’s spacious atrium, or accompanied directly through to airside via a gate by the side of the building. Next to the atrium on the ground floor is the main passenger lounge. Just beyond this is a spacious private lounge that can be partitioned off for privacy.

The building also offers a 30-seat boardroom fully equipped with audiovisual equipment for presentations. There is a private dining room and a café with a full kitchen that can provide catering for flights. Also on the ground-floor is a good-sized bathroom with shower.

Customs, immigration and police officers have their own premises in the terminal. Passengers on flights that do not have to be security-screened (noncommercial operations, or aircraft weighing less than 10 metric tons and carrying fewer than 20 seats) can get from the airport’s entrance gate to their aircraft stairway in barely five minutes. With screening, it takes about 10 minutes.

On the second floor of the new terminal there is a flight operations suite, and nearby a pilot lounge offering reclining seats for naps, as well as high-speed Internet access. The whole building is equipped for wireless connection.

This year Farnborough is expected to receive 21,000 movements–almost an 8-percent increase over the 19,500 handled in 2005. Under an agreement with the local Rushmoor Borough Council, the airport is restricted to 28,000 movements each year–a limit that is set to be reached by 2010.

TAG has planning approval to build a new hotel here at Farnborough that is expected to open by the end of 2007 (in time for the next airshow) and will include a mix of three- and four-star accommodations to suit both air crew and executives. The building will be erected on the site of the former Royal Air Force officer’s mess, close to the airshow’s main entrance.

Here at FI2006, TAG Aviation sister company TAG Aeronautics can be found in Chalet B26. The company is sales representative for Bombardier business aircraft and regional airliners in the Arab League states and Turkey.