By Mike Saewitz
The Hampton Roads Executive Airport , which caters mainly to private charters and corporate aircraft, is planning more than $30 million in improvements.
The proposals for the privately owned airport include extending a 4,000-foot runway to 5,350 feet , building an air freight building and a 15,000- square-foot corporate plane hangar, and buying a device that makes it easier for planes to land in bad weather.
The public has until Monday to send comments on the runway expansion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is evaluating the effects of the project and must issue a permit before work is done.
One of the airport's owners said the improvements are necessary to comply with federal aviation standards as well as to prepare for a surge in popularity and demand for the airport, business and corporate travel to Hampton Roads, and the use of recreational planes.
"The forecast is for many more pilots and many more planes in the air," said Steven I. Fox , principal for Virginia Aviation Associates LLC , which owns the airport .
The airport houses 217 planes and has more than 83,000 takeoffs and landings per year, Fox said. In 15 years, the airport could house about 330 aircraft and have more than 150,000 annual takeoffs and landings, he said.
Chesapeake Mayor Dalton Edge said he supports the expansion and wants the airport to prosper. He acknowledged, however, that the private airport competes directly with the city-subsidized Chesapeake Regional Airport , which has a 5,500 -foot runway that also serves the business and recreational community.
Fox said he hopes to have the new runway completed by 2010 . The other buildings should be finished by early next year, Fox said.
The airport will have 120 new T-hangars for private planes. Fifty are already under construction, and 20 are already rented, he said.
Mike Saewitz (757) 222-5207, firstname.lastname@example.org
To comment on the proposed runway expansion, write to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-REG), 803 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510-1096.
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