Corporate jet center to break ground at GFK

Aug. 27--It's already known to many as the department store for general and corporate aviation pilots flying into Grand Forks.

But next spring, when GFK Flight Support opens its new $4.5-million corporate jet center, instead of a ma-and-pa's five-and-dime, aviators will be treated to the state-of-the-art luxury of 5th Avenue.

Brent Seifert, president of GFK, said his operation will break ground on its new dream facility next month on a site adjacent to where Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority plans to build its own $20 million passenger terminal. The site is less than a mile south of the airport's existing passenger terminal near the local FedEx air operation.

"This is an exciting time for Grand Forks with new retail and entertainment developments, such as the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Alerus Center, Canad Inns, a new airline terminal and now, a new corporate jet center," Seifert said, in a prepared statement.

Seifert said the new jet center would be a 45,000-square-foot "five-star facility" that would increase the amount of heated hangar and aircraft support space available to GFK to 130,000 square feet, making it the largest aircraft center in the state.

"The facilities, staffing and equipment will allow GFK Flight Support to serve everything from airliners, the largest of corporate jets and the smallest of personal aircraft," Seifert said.

Five-star service

Currently, GFK services has as many as three corporate jets and five general aviation aircraft a day, in addition to the FedEx and Northwest Airline jets flying in and out of Grand Forks. He said the new jet center will allow GFK to handle more aircraft each day.

The two-story facility will have a luxury hotel-class lobby and other waiting areas, as well as exclusive pilot lounges, he said. Also, the new jet center will have four classrooms available for flight training, a conference room capabale of accomodating 25 people and an in-house theater.

Ten indoor parking garages also will be on hand for vehicles of pilots who host their aircraft at GFK, Seifert said.

It also will have a "pilot pro shop" and cutting-edge technology that can be used for flight planning and to monitor the weather.

Seifert said the corporate jet center also will feature a new service, known as "wing-tip invoicing," enabling aircraft crews to pay for services right from the pilot's seat. The service will be made available in cooperation with Chevron/Texaco.

April target

Another development on the horizon made possible by the new jet center is the possibility that GFK will receive approval to become an all-jet certified air carrier. This would allow GFK to provide corporate jet service charter flights to and from Grand Forks in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

GFK currently employs 33 people. The new jet center would have 40 workers, Seifert said.

He said a target period to break ground on the new facility is the third week of September, with an anticipated completion date in April.

The local airport authority contributed more than $1.4 million to the jet center project to help construct an aircraft parking apron and to install sewer and water infrastructure.

"This is going to be a first-class facility," said Steve Johnson, airport executive director. "It will provide a classy front door for general aviation and corporate aviation visitors to Grand Forks."

Dodds covers general news happenings in Grand Forks and around the region. Reach him at (701)780-1110; (800) 477-6572, 110; or at ddodds@gfherald.com

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