Aircraft Hangar Construction Guide Part I.

Paul Blake

Part I – Hangar Construction Guide

Before hangar construction, you must assess the current state of your airport or airpark, how well it operates, and the viability of new hangar construction. This will include qualifying the demand and need for aircraft hangars, assessing the environment in which the project will be executed and obtaining support from any key decision makers. You should also become familiar with the FAA requirements and regulations that govern airport development and aircraft hangar construction.

Before going any further identify the key personnel who can help you. These people could include

  • airport directors
  • city officials
  • airport engineers
  • airport consultants
  • local EAA organization
  • other hangar owners

Research Is Key

Begin by doing a study of the aircraft hangar waiting list. If your airport does not have one then consider making one to learn if there is any demand for hangar space. Contact those who show interest, find out their level of commitment and their future plans and how much are they willing to spend. This is your market research. Are they interested in other locations? Some people have their names on multiple waiting lists across the state. Do they own an aircraft at this time? However you choose to qualify these people it must be verified.

Another way to gauge the interest of people on a hangar waiting list is to request a financial deposit from each registration.

The type of aircraft hangar will depend on your tenants and what is the most appropriate at your airport. For example, nested T-Hangars attract renters because they provide the greatest degree of protection from the weather for the least amount of return. Box hangars usually attract owners with more money and bigger aircraft. These hangars are often more expensive to build, but they also generate significant revenue and should last a lot longer. Box hangars can also be designed to offer wash facilities, a conference room or space for repairs and overhaul.

Elements To Consider

Researching the environment in which you plan to build is probably the most important element that can be overlooked. Airport supporters often assume that if the demand for aircraft hangar space is large, then the development will be simple and successful. Not always! Before you seek any funding you must research all of the elements in the airport. These elements include:

Airport Owner Support: If you don’t have the support of the airport, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Whether it’s a private or public airport, you are going to need their help and support to be successful. We recommend you identify the key decision makers early on and introduce yourself and your plans for aircraft hangar construction. You will want their support to earn favorable decisions! Key people to reach out to include the airport manager, the planning department and senior City or County members. If an airport commission exists contact them too!

Community Supporters: If the community doesn’t back your project it will be much more difficult. If the airport has been good to the community in the past you should find yourself sitting favorably with them. Do not assume just because your ideas are not lodging complaints from the community that you have their support. Check with online community message boards, the local newspapers and local residents to find out what people think of your plans.

Airport’s Master Plan: The airport should have an up to date master plan that is approved by the FAA and shows the build out capacity of the airport and the plans for how it should be achieved. It also shows an airport layout diagram. It’s critical that your aircraft hangar project is highlighted on this master plan in the planning phase.

Zoning or Land Usage: The airport or City will have a plan of which airport owned land can be developed. Some areas will be available for aircraft hangars, some for commercial development, gas, combinations etc etc. Some will need to be listed as free space and must remain free from any development or construction. If a zone does not already exist for hangar development then you will need to consult the Airport director. AOPA will also be a useful contact: talk to their Noise and Land division.

Design Standards: Design standards do not apply at every airport so you will need to find out. Some airports will have preferred architects and engineering consultants for aircraft hangar design. These firms will have a good grasp on building sizes, shape, design, door styles etc. They should be given AeroDoors contact information at a very early stage to ensure the right choice of door is utilized. The airport director may have a list of “preferred design agencies.”

Tenant Support: Although people on the aircraft hangar waiting list may be anxious for you to complete your development, others may not show the same enthusiasm. For example, an existing hangar developer at the airport may see you as a threat. It’s important that you determine the competition and seek the advice of others. You should know how much support you need to overcome the competition.

Availability of Funding: Existing airport revenue will be the main source of any funding. Examples include state aviation funding, municipal bonds, or private loans. Check out the FAA Airport Improvement Program.