Construction will begin soon on the Morristown Regional Airport’s largest and perhaps best-appointed private jet hangar, and the structure is expected to be complete in about two months, according to officials.
The 130,000-square-foot hangar will house Southeast Industrial Construction’s corporate jet, a Beechjet 400A, but the company is considering an upgrade to a Hawker 900A, which is faster and has a much larger range, according to Kenny Noah, company president.
Noah says 8,000 square feet of hangar space will be reserved for the jet. The remaining 3,800 occupiable space will be reserved for a conference room, reception desk, kitchen and two restrooms. Noah says he ordered the steel package on Oct. 6, one day after the Morristown City Council approved a 30-year, ground-lease agreement with Southeast Industrial Construction.
Southeast Industrial is leasing the land at the airport. After 30 years, the ownership of the hangar will revert to city government, according to Joey Barnard, Morristown assistant city administrator.
Councilmembers also approved Southeaster Industrial’s proposed construction of two 6,400-square-foot hangars, which is closer to the size of a typical hangar at the airport. Noah says plans are still fluid, but the tentative plan is to begin construction as soon as the larger hanger is finished. The same 30-year lease agreement will apply to the smaller hangars.
Noah says the Southeast Industrial corporate jet is currently being housed in a rental hangar at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville. He says relocating the jet to Morristown is all about saving time.
It takes about an hour to drive to the Knoxville airport. The Beechjet 400A’s top speed is 520 mph. In the time it takes to drive to the Knoxville airport and board the plane a jet leaving Morristown could be approaching Toronto, Canada, which is about 550 miles away. Noah says the wheels are up on the Southeast Industrial corporate jet every week.
Southeast Industrial is based in Morristown, and has offices in Washington D.C., Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Oklahoma. The company has built more than 30 Costcos, Costco and Targets, hotels and constructed and renovated other commercial buildings, according to Noah, who says not all local residents fully appreciate the impact of general aviation.
“It’s a big asset,” Noah said. “There are more corporate people in Morristown that most people realize. A lot of (corporations) don’t buy a jet because they don’t have a place to store it. With the new bus plant (Van Hool) coming in, those guys are going to have all kinds of vendors flying in.”
Chesney said the airport is an important gateway to the community.
“I think as Morristown grows and our facilities and services grow, it’s pleasing to see that our airport is showing some very positive growth as well,” Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said this morning. “Our regional airport – when people see if for the first time – they sort of go, ‘Wow.’”
“The improvements that are about to come at the airport are going to create some more wows and expand the capabilities,” Chesney added.
Ben Williamson, who owns the airport’s fixed base operator, Morristown Air Service, said the private-public partnership took a lot of hard work and some creative, outside-the-box thinking.
“I’d like to thank the city of Morristown and Kenny Noah, the city council and the airport commission for making this partnership possible,” Williamson said. “A lot of work went into it from Frank McGuffin, of the airport commission, and Joey Barnard, for the city. It was a creative and effective solution and I think it will be a game-changer for the city of Morristown and the airport.”
Williamson said the model will be important, especially for Morristown area industries and industrial recruitment.
“There will be hangar space available for corporate aircraft. In addition, there will be land available for the possible construction of future T-hangars,” he said.
In another important airport-related development, Michael Baker International will be conducting a land-acquisition study. The federal government will foot the entire bill for the $84,500 study.
The Tennessee Department of Transpiration Aeronautics Division has requested land appraisals and environmental assessments to facilitate the purchase of approximately 2.9 acres of land for a proposed parallel taxiway relocation. Several property owners could be impacted, according to city officials.
Part of the credit for the orderly progress at the airport, the mayor says, is the Morristown Regional Airport Commission, which is a relatively new board.
“I like how they’ve overseen airport growth,” he said. “I think they’ve done a nice job.”