TAG Aviation is working hard to provide European business aviation with a resource it desperately needs–an airport to call its own. Even before construction work began this summer, the group made a substantial investment in an exhaustive lobbying effort to redevelop Britain’s Farnborough airfield as a dedicated business aviation airport. The next major goal is to secure the required civil airport license for Farnborough by the end of December 2002, 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 control tower and the redevelopment of the main 07/25 runway. Most runway work will be conducted at night, but to expedite the project, TAG opted for three weekend closures during August and early September. 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 ILS will be available on Runway 25 by mid-October and Runway 07 in the spring.
The Civil Aviation Authority has insisted on displaced thresholds at both ends of the runway (1,050 ft on the 07 approach and 1,070 ft on the 25 approach) reducing landing distance to 6,800 ft. This was required both to extend the safety footprint around the airport and to reduce noise levels in surrounding residential areas. The runway is also being resurfaced, with improvements to water drainage and installation of new airfield lights.
TAG has 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 new business aviation enclave is to be located on the northwest side of the airfield. TAG’s well-appointed temporary facility is on the southwest side and will be kept open as a terminal for BAE Systems’ corporate shuttle operation, linking its adjacent Farnborough headquarters with several other facilities around the UK.
The new terminal building is a striking wing-shaped structure with three floors, offering almost 18,300 sq ft of office space to let. On the first floor, there is a large lounge, kitchens, a computer suite, conference rooms, a chauffeur’s room, as well as 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 is reserved for office space.
The development will also feature two sets of three hangars, with each hangar offering 39,300 sq ft of space. The middle hangar of each set of three will be high enough to accommodate the 41.2-ft tail of Boeing’s BBJ2. The other two hangars will be filled with cut-out door flaps to accommodate the larger jets.
Each set of three hangars will include almost 8,200 sq ft of workshops. In addition, 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 additional 75,000-sq-ft hangars.
Last year, Farnborough recorded approximately 15,500 business aircraft movements. This was 20 percent higher than traffic levels during 1999 and exceeded the company’s target for 2001. Traffic is set to show further 10 to 15 percent growth during 2001.
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 said 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) are allowed by aircraft weighing between 110,229 and 176,000 lb. The 110,229 lb classification means that business aircraft up to the size of the Gulfstream V and Bombardier Global Express do not fall within the restricted group, while the 80-ton class takes the limit up to the 171,500-lb Boeing Business Jet and the proposed 174,700-lb BBJ2, as well as the 167,380-lb Airbus Corporate Jetliner.
Despite the prevailing steep increases in traffic at Farnborough, TAG Aviation director Sir Donald Spiers has insisted that the company’s business plan for the airport is based purely on the limit of 28,000 movements. Nonetheless, TAG officials may later be able to demonstrate the environmental friendliness of the new-generation business aircraft using the airport and so secure an increase in permitted
movements from local authorities.
In the interests of neighborliness, the company is investing in radar recording equipment to show the actual track and altitude of aircraft arriving and departing. It is also installing approach monitoring equipment for Runway 25 to give an audible and visual warning to controllers if an aircraft is flying too low on the glidepath or is off centerline. Both systems should be in place by year-end.
Farnborough’s weekday opening hours are restricted to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and over 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 $224 (£160) for a Cessna Citation II through to $840 (£600) for a GV and $2,100 (£1,500) for a BBJ.