Katy-Area Airport Nears Completion in Texas

A new airport aiming to serve west Houston business and general aviation clients is nearing completion in Waller County, a spokesman for the developer said.

Houston Executive Airport is projected to open in January. The first phase of construction is estimated to cost between $30 million and $35 million.

"We need to paint stripes and marks on the runways and taxiways, plus finish the lighting system and add fencing," said Drew Coats, spokesman for Houston developer and airport owner Ron Henriksen.

The airport is on a 1,980-acre site in the southern part of the county between Katy and Brookshire, north of Interstate 10 and west of FM 2855.

Converted from Air Rice, a former private airport built in 1962 and used for crop dusting, the facility is expected to alleviate congestion from William P. Hobby and George Bush airports.

The facility initially would have 10 T-hangers, and a main hanger is in the design phase. Airport offices, space for business jets and lobby areas will be a part of the main hanger, Coats said. Employees would be in temporary facilities until the main hanger is constructed, he said.

Coats did not have an estimate for when the hanger would be completed.

Henriksen recently became the first pilot to touch down at the site, making a six-minute, 19-mile flight from Sugar Land in a twin-engine Piaggio P-180 Avanti. The flight and landing coincided with Henriksen's 60th birthday.

Fulshear initial choice

After initially gaining Federal Aviation Administration approval to build an airport on 575 acres in Fulshear's extraterritorial jurisdiction, Henriksen shifted his plans to the Waller County site, saying the larger tract would better accommodate growth. The groundbreaking occurred in December.

Opponents of the first proposed site hired environmental experts and sent more than 700 letters to the FAA protesting the proposed runway alignment and proximity to an elementary school, migratory bird habitat and residential developments. Plans to build on the Waller County site also drew opposition.

Coats said the airport would have amenities similar to comparable facilities in the area such as the Sugar Land Regional Airport.

The project's five-year plan calls for the Waller County airport to serve about 200 aircraft of various sizes. Plans include eventually extending the runway to 7,000 feet to accommodate larger planes, plus building a business aviation terminal and corporate aviation flight department facilities.



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