Rothbury Executive Air cleared for $6.8M hangar at Ford airport


A partial rendering of Rothbury Executive Air’s private air center at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Courtesy Rothbury Executive Air

A decision by the Federal Aviation Administration this month has cleared the way for Rothbury Executive Air to become the third fixed-base operator to lease space at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

FBOs Rapid Air and Northern Air currently operate at the airport.

Rothbury will break ground on its $6.8-million facility later this spring on a five-acre site located south of the Kent Intermediate School District’s aviation maintenance school. The company has signed a 40-year lease with the airport for the location.

The private air center will include a 34,000-square-foot hangar with a door height of 28 feet to accommodate jets as large as Gulfstream 650s, according to Terry Boer, Rothbury vice president.

Northern Air has 58,000 square feet of total hangar space spread across four different hangars with door heights of 25 feet, and can accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Falcon 2000, while Rapid Air’s hangar space is 30,000 square feet with a door height of 20 feet.

In addition to hangar space that can accommodate larger aircraft, Rothbury promises that the new facility also will offer world-class amenities. A state-of-the-art executive lounge, aviation-focused catering kitchen, coffee, espresso and hospitality bar, café, conference room, office space, crew headquarters, a pilots lounge with two separate sleep rooms, and a flight planning space are among the amenities listed.

“Prior to us submitting our proposal we did quite a bit of market research,” said Boer. “(We) talked to every tenant on the airport and asked them what was missing in terms of services, and it became very clear that there is a definite need for a larger hangar space or hangar space that accommodated larger aircraft, as well as an onsite catering kitchen that could provide 24-hour catering to the various departure times that we experience in that business.”

The catering kitchen will prepare food onsite, specifically for aviation.

“Once you are in this business you come to learn that aviation catering is a very niche market,” said Alison Albright, Rothbury’s general manager. “You are dealing with very high-end clientele so you have to have very high-end food and packaging. The packaging has to be very creative because most times you are fitting it into very small areas.”

Albright also said the facility would offer multi-stall bathrooms, a first among the FBOs.

“Another feature we have added that isn’t currently offered is there is a portico out on the ramp side of the building so when an aircraft taxis in it can nose underneath this overhang and the passengers can get out without getting wet, stay out of the weather,” Boer said.

Boer said the new facility will fill a need not already present at the Ford Airport.

In its Aerospace Forecast 2012-2032, the FAA predicted that the impact of the recession is starting to ease and demand for business jet aircraft is starting to recover. The report points to robust growth in the long term, and cites contributing factors of higher corporate profits and growth of worldwide GDP for this long-term outlook, as well as flight delays and continuing concerns over safety and security.

The report also predicts that business usage of general aviation aircraft will expand at a faster rate than for personal and recreation use.

Lamar Construction will break ground on the new Rothbury Executive Air facility later this spring and the project will be completed before the close of 2013.

Rothbury anticipates hiring 10 to 30 people, including customer service, line service and maintenance positions.

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