Located just five miles from downtown Nashville, TN, John C. Tune Airport (JWN) is home to 170 based aircraft and a flight school. With 72,000 operations last year, it's also the smaller sibling of Nashville International Airport (BNA), as both facilities are owned and operated by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA).
Throughout the years, BNA has grown to serve about 10 million annual passengers. And JWN's role as its 24/7 reliever has increased.
Robert Ramsey, MNAA's assistant vice president for planning and design, focuses on satisfying the needs of local and itinerant aircraft operators who use JWN. Given the airport's limited land envelope (400 acres) and challenging local topography, officials hold regular tenant meetings and perform user surveys to obtain input and identify future development demands.
With about 50 operators on a waiting list for new hangars, demand for additional aircraft facilities was apparent, notes MNAA general aviation manager, Kathy Hatter, A.A.E. The airport consequently built eight new hangars last year. Combined with its previous facilities and two privately developed corporate flight departments, JWN now has a total of 129 onsite hangars.
Just Like an Erector Set
Installation of the new hangars took five months, and was completed in September 2011. MNAA's manager of civil construction describes the project as fast, easy and very successful. "The hangars basically went up like an Erector set," recalls Bryan Barton, P.E.
Hatter concurs, noting that the project went "seamlessly."
It did, however, present a few challenges for Baron + Dowdle Construction, the project contractor. The first emerged as crews poured the concrete slab for the structures, recalls chief financial officer Glynn Dowdle. With temperatures over 100° F, workers took extra precautions to keep the surface damp to prevent cracking and ensure even drying.
After the basic structures were complete, installing the electric bi-fold doors also required additional care. Having built two larger facilities with 24 T-hangars for the airport 10 years ago and additional smaller hangar buildings more recently, the contractor had an established relationship with JWN staff to call upon when the challenges presented themselves. Unlike previous projects, Baron + Dowdle's latest job at the airport was a design/build project.
FulFab was selected to supply the hangars. "We are the only manufacturer that has its own erection crews, so we can assemble the buildings in addition to making them," notes Mike Paris, chief engineer at Fulfab.
In retrospect, Hatter cites the airport's regular communication with consultants and tenants as an essential factor of the project's success. But the latest addition of T-hangars is just one part of the big picture at JWN.
Late last year, officials completed an Airport Layout Plan Update for the JWN master plan that was created in 2006. The new document is currently being reviewed by the FAA and Aeronautics Division of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Its key points include:
• Runway Safety Area improvements
Project: New Hangars
Location: John C. Tune Airport, Nashville, TN
Owner/Operator: Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority
Project Size: 8 hangars
Contractor: Baron + Dowdle Construction
Hangar Mfg: FulFab
• Areas reserved for additional box and corporate hangars
• The addition of an area reserved for the ramp development and more hangars
• An area reserved for a possible air traffic control tower
Improvements to help the airport comply with current FAA Runway Safety Area standards are the top priority, reports Ramsey. Accommodating larger, higher performance aircraft prompted the airport to be upgraded from an Airport
Reference Code [ARC] B-II facility to an ARC C-II airport, he explains. The new classification requires new characteristics for the airport's Runway Safety Area.
Funding has not yet been requested for the project, because the airport authority is currently finalizing details and compliance issues with the FAA. Ramsey expects the Runway Safety Area project to last two to three years, and hopes it will begin this summer or fall.
After the Runway Safety Area project, the next "big piece of the plan," says Ramsey, is upgrading general infrastructure elements such as lighting and pavement. "Some of the lighting parts are 25 to 30 years old and are getting more difficult to find replacements for," he explains.
Several lighting changes have already been made. Traditional fluorescent fixtures in the T-hangars and terminal building were replaced with compact fluorescent lamps. Ramsey anticipates that the cost for the new fixtures will be recouped in three years.
Hatter reports that aircraft mechanics actually prefer the quality of light produced by the more environmentally conscious lighting. "Everybody has been very involved in the many projects and improvement of general aviation at the airport," she notes.