DAVENPORT, IA — Located in Scott County along the border of Iowa and Illinois northwest of the winding Mississippi River, Davenport is one of four cities collectively known by the region as the Quad Cities. Serving as a general aviation gateway to the greater Quad City area, Davenport Municipal Airport (DVN) is currently undergoing a revitalization. With a new airport manager in place and a committed service provider in Carver Aero, ongoing facility and infrastructure improvements signify a commitment for continued support and growth of the region.

Jeremy Keating, 33, received a degree in aviation management from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, and spent time afterward working at airports in Florida, Texas, and California. Now, he is the airport manager at Davenport Municipal.

“I’ve always had the goal of becoming a small airport manager,” remarks Keating. “When I came across the position at Davenport, I could see the city was very supportive of the airport.

“The city, public works director, and airport commission wanted to bring in a manager to promote and market the airport — to see the bigger picture of the airport’s potential.

“There’s a diamond in the rough out here; airports can be great economic catalysts for communities.”

Looking forward

Davenport Municipal is sponsored by the City of Davenport. With an annual budget of some $300,000, planning for growth can be a challenge, relates Keating.

With regard to the type of aircraft activity here, small single-engine GA traffic dominates, yet Keating says corporate activity is definitely picking up. Because of this, the airport is working on getting funding for a runway extension.

“We are updating our airport master plan and ALP now,” explains Keating. “We want to extend the runway within the next four or five years.

“Right now, you can’t get in here a certain percentage of the time. By extending the runway, we can attract some larger aircraft, but also, it would expand the percentage of the year that aircraft can operate here.”

Davenport and the Quad Cities region is a growing area, says Keating. “The Quad Cities International Airport [located some 15 miles south of DVN] can be a busy airport with the commercial activity there and a control tower.

“Here, we have no control tower. It’s easy to fly out of here; a lot of the GA pilots want to come here for that reason.”

With a footprint of 760 acres, there are some 105 aircraft based at Davenport Municipal. The airport provides 82,000 square feet of T-hangar storage and two executive-style box hangars; construction of six new hangars is expected to be complete by fall.

According to a 2009 Iowa Department of Transportation economic impact study, $20.3 million in total annual economic output is generated by airport operations, and it provides some 400 employment opportunities ($11.49 million in payroll).

Tenants include the field’s lone fixed base operator, Carver Aero, as well as the Iowa National Guard [which employs some 300 people], and the National Weather Service.

Carver Aero

Long-time Davenport Municipal FBO Carver Aero entered into a 30-year lease agreement with the airport last year. Carver’s commitment includes more than $3 million in private dollars to build a new terminal facility. Comments FBO manager Sandra Barrett, “Cost of materials was not a factor in our decision to build when we did.”

The new facility consists of a 20,000-square foot hangar with a 7,460-square foot terminal building attached.

“We are looking to attract more overall activity with new pilot amenities; but we’re also looking to attract the business aircraft user,” says Barrett.

As a full-service FBO, Carver provides fuel, private charter, flight training, an onsite FAA testing center for written exams, aircraft rental, maintenance, and sightseeing.

Carver handles some 15,000 aircraft operations annually; approximately 880 of which are jet operations. Year over year, the FBO pumped 82,545 gallons of avgas and 202,149 gallons of jet-A as of August this year.

Regarding maintenance, Carver services some 200 aircraft per year, from Cessna 150s up to the Citation XLS. The service provider also has maintenance contracts with some commercial airlines at the Quad City Int’l Airport in Moline, IL; the contracts result in some 300 maintenance calls per year. Carver also provides aircraft management.

“Word of mouth is still the best advertising; however, we are in the process of updating our website to use as an advertising tool; it will include a gallery of photos of the new facility and an online charter quoting system,” relates Barrett.