Business aircraft manufacturers, FBO/MROs and operators along Florida’s and Georgia’s Atlantic Coast are activating storm response plans as Category 5-rated Hurricane Irma appears to be headed to reach the U.S. on Sunday along a projected track between Miami and Savannah, Georgia. Three business aviation aircraft manufacturers—Gulfstream, Embraer and Piper—have production plants and other major facilities along that path.
A Gulfstream spokeswoman told AIN that its West Palm Beach, Florida, and Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia facilities will be closed tomorrow, “so employees and their families can evacuate in advance of the expected storm.” Yesterday, the company started relocating aircraft that cannot be housed in designated hangars to safer areas out of state. “Our primary concern is the safety of our employees and their families,” she added.
Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale-based Sheltair is anticipating the temporary closure of its FBOs at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) and Pompano Beach (PMP) Airports, as well possible closures of its facilities at Orlando (ORL), Daytona Beach (DAB), Jacksonville (JAX) and Savannah (SAV), starting tomorrow and extending through Sunday.
For business aircraft operators escaping the storm, Paragon Network affiliate FBOs Tunica Air Center in Mississippi and Platinum Air Center Gulf Shores, Alabama, have waived ramp and overnight fees for them. “Both locations have confirmed that there are plenty of hotels/condos in the area available as well,” it said.
Charter operators and brokers are reportedly fielding “massive” numbers of inquiries from residents looking to evacuate southeast Florida. In fact, PrivateFly said its office in Fort Lauderdale has been “deluged with calls for evacuation from the area,” with many wishing to head to Atlanta or New York City.