Fernandina's airport improvements are based on the actual need to rehabilitate existing facilities or accommodate airport business and user demand.
The airport’s Technical Advisory Committee, consisting of a group of local citizens, gave airport consulting firm Passero Associates unanimous support to take the plan to the city during its meeting last month. Since then, Passero staff has been putting the finishing touches on the documentation to be presented.
During last month’s meeting, the planning team worked on its four-phase capital improvement program. This program is based on the actual need to rehabilitate existing facilities or accommodate airport business and user demand.
Phase 1 is the most critical and spans from the present through 2019. Phases 2-4 span from 2020-2035, and possibly beyond:
• Phase 1, based on affordability, provides new box hangars and other revenue-producing additions in addition to regular airfield improvements.
• Phase 2 creates a modified taxiway around the aircraft parking apron, which provides aircraft parking space and access to additional hangar development.
• Phase 3, based on demand, could extend Runway 4 for aircraft operational efficiency, safety, logistical and noise abatement purposes only. It is the only runway that can ever be extended. The extension would not accommodate a larger category of aircraft (commercial airliners for either freight or passenger use, etc.), and the current weight capacity of the pavement is programmed to be maintained. The master plan update is designed using the Gulfstream G-IV business jet as its design aircraft, which has been using the airport for over 20 years.
• Phase 4 is strictly demand-driven for development, maintains conservation areas, and provides for both aviation and non-aviation usage.
A new welcome center building has already been approved by the Fernandina Beach City Commission, and will be built in partnership with Eight Flags Aviation.
Dr. Dave Byers of Quadrex Aviation also presented an accompanying strategic business plan to guide the progress of the master plan, as well as the strategic and financial future of the airport. It will also guide the airport on how and when to request essential funding from the FAA and FDOT to help fund proposed improvements. Both the master plan and strategic plan will work in tandem to implement marketing efforts that encourage people to choose Fernandina Beach over other airport locations.
Dr. Byers provided insightful research that illustrates the airport’s positive economic impact, including in the form of local jobs – even with non-aviation activities:
• As an “enterprise fund,” the airport is 100% financially self-sustaining.
• Airport asset value: Facts show that the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport (FHB) is irreplaceable. Its loss would devastate the economy of the region.
• 65.4%/$17,077,097 total industry output impact.
• $106,304 total tax contribution.
Here’s more benefit: Even though the airport clearly adds precious value to the community, future on-site light manufacturing will have an even higher impact and will greatly improve FHB’s regional value.
For obvious reasons, the airport already has strong municipal/regional support from the city. Since it is currently worth over $17 million and has a detailed, updated plan, the airport hopes to garner more local support from the community.
Zach Nelson, project manager for Passero Associates, is confident that the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport will accomplish its goals. “I’ve never worked for a successful airport that didn’t fully support its betterment, and Fernandina clearly fits that mold” he said.
For the record, the planning team wants the community to know it will not be changing the local airport’s name or code. It shall retain its long-standing designation of Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport (FHB).
Working on behalf of the City, Passero Associates communicates to the City of Fernandina Beach, its citizens and Municipal Airport stakeholders, the ongoing process of developing a master plan for FHB. This planning process will be periodically reported to the public in the form of meetings to be held in Fernandina Beach. The FHB Communications Plan involves conducting and documenting five public meetings and distributing concise summaries to the public via periodic press releases; email; social media; and a website: http://www.fbfl.us/airportplanningproject
For more information on the planning process, please contact Zach Nelson at (904) 757-6106 or email to FBmasterplan@yahoo.com.