KANSAS CITY, Mo., December 2, 2008 --- Refurbishments to the 5,050-foot Runway 3-21 at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (MKC) are nearly complete, affording the opportunity for the Kansas City Aviation Department to reopen the runway yesterday. The work included a new asphalt overlay and electrical improvements. In 2005, the Aviation Department initiated a $70-million capital program to improve the facility, also known as Kansas City Downtown Airport. New concrete pavement and electrical systems for Runway 1-19 (the main north-south runway) were completed in 2006.
Other big changes are afoot at MKC, as the Aviation Department continues to invest in improvements to the airfield, airport tenants continue to grow and the airport welcomes a major new development.
Aviation Department projects
The department has initiated a $22 million construction project on the west side of the field to allow faster access to Runway 1-19 and parallel ramp space for new T-hangars and box hangars that are under construction.
?We?ve added Taxiway Lima so that pilots have a more direct route when taxiing from the runway to the ramp,? said Airport Manager Mike Roper. ?This will also create greater frontage for hangar construction along the west side of Runway 1-19.?
The Aviation Department is reporting strong demand for the 96 new hangars that it started building in October 2008. To make way for the new project, the department recently razed 40 smaller hangars that have been on the airfield since the early 1940s, creating a net gain of 56 hangars.
The $17.3 million hangar project on the northwest portion of the airfield is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2009 and will consist of seven buildings containing 96 individual hangars, a new general aviation terminal with a pilots? lounge and large waiting room capable of accommodating groups of up to 90 people, an aircraft self-fueling station and outdoor aircraft wash bay.
?We will be able to accommodate larger turbine aircraft that we simply could not handle in our older hangars,? said Roper, adding that the department expects to have 50 jets based at MKC.
The Aviation Department isn?t the only one making improvements on the airfield.
A new private development, called Hangar 10, is being constructed at the north end of the MKC airfield. When completed in the summer of 2009, the Hangar 10 complex will include four aircraft hangars totaling 68,000 square feet, a 41,000 square-foot executive aviation terminal with office space, lounges, pilot rest areas, overnight rooms, exercise facilities with men?s and women?s locker rooms, and meeting space for groups of up to 30 people.
The facility will house 25 business aircraft and a 30-person staff will ensure high-quality service. Hangar 10 will offer Jet-A fuel and will eventually add aircraft sales and management services for aircraft owners.
Executive Beechcraft, which has operated at MKC since the 1950s, is investing in a state-of-the-art renovation to its fixed base operation at its flagship facility at MKC to provide pilots and passengers alike with more comfortable waiting and workspace. Designed by Orlando, Fla.-based Kimberly Bewley & Company, the ?new? Executive Beechcraft will feature new tile, carpeting, furniture and countertops in the main reception and lounge areas, as well as to the pilots? lounge, conference and meeting rooms.
Executive Beechcraft was recently acquired by BBA Aviation, a U.K.-based company that is a world leader in aviation services. Earlier this year, the company became the first facility in the nation authorized to retrofit the King Air C90 with the Garmin G1000 all-glass avionics suite, enhancing pilots? situational awareness and passenger safety.
Roper says that the airport is already seeing an influx of corporate jet aircraft operations, partly as the result of the rapid growth of fractional aircraft operators such as Net Jet and the fast-growing locally based Executive AirShare, with a fleet of 15 aircraft serving customers in five states.
Since moving its corporate headquarters to MKC in 2005, Executive AirShare has become the seventh-largest fractional aircraft ownership company in the United States. The company currently holds orders on 32 Embraer Phenom entry level and light jet aircraft for deliveries scheduled to begin next summer.
?Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport is less than five minutes from the heart of Downtown Kansas City, which is undergoing a major renaissance,? said Roper. ?With more businesses and high net worth individuals moving downtown, business and leisure aviators will be seeking greater amenities and we are preparing MKC to take advantage of this emerging demand.?
MKC offers aviators a 24-hour control tower, Category I Instrument Landing System, 24-hour fixed base operator (FBO), full aircraft maintenance, hangar facilities, air cargo facilities, aircraft sales, leasing and charters, flight training and car rentals. More information is available at www.flymkc.com.