John Deere Builds New Corporate Flight Facility at Quad City Int'l

Author: 
Jodi Richards
Published in: 
July-August
2011

Since last October, Quad City International Airport (MLI) in Moline, IL has been home to John Deere's new $15 million corporate aviation facility. The 70,400-square-foot complex replaces a smaller facility the company had occupied at the airport since 1980 and stands as a concrete example of the long-term partnership between the local manufacturing giant and MLI.

The new 20-year lease agreement, with three 10-year options, continues a steady stream of rent from Deere to the airport. With two Citation Xs, a Gulfstream V and Gulfstream 550 each flying about 800 hours annually, fuel flowage fees provide another valuable source of revenue. Currently the airport charges 7.5 cents per gallon, but MLI aviation director Bruce Carter, A.A.E., anticipates an increase this fiscal year because the rate has not changed in more than a decade.





factsfigures

Project: Corporate Aviation Department

Company: John Deere

Location: Quad City Int'l Airport, Moline, IL

Cost: $15 million

Total Size: 70,400 sq. ft.

Hangar: 40,300 sq. ft.

Apron: 68,000 sq. ft.

Taxiway: 10,000 sq. ft. each

Completed: Late 2010

Design Partners: OPN Architects, KJWW, Foth Engineering

General Contractor/Construction Manager: Estes Construction

Floor Coating: Euclid Chemical Company/Stetson Building Products

Subcontractors

Electrical & Data Cabling: DECCO/Koehler

Concrete: Treiber Construction

HVAC & Sheet Metal: Johnson Contracting

Mechanical Systems & Plumbing: Ryan Associates

Gypsum Walls, Insulation, Acoustical Ceiling Tiles: River Valley Construction

Steel Erection: Cedar Valley Steel

Concrete Masonry Unit Walls: Bob White Masonry

Architectural Woodwork: Woodcrafters

Glazed Curtain Wall & Landside Entrances: East Moline Glass

Security & Fire Alarms: CEC

Perimeter Fence & Gates: Lovewell Fencing

Fire Suppression/Sprinkler Systems: Tri-State Sprinkler

Fuel Farm: Illinois Oil Marketing Equipment

Paint/Coatings: W.F. Scott Decorating

Furniture: Pigott, Inc/Herman Miller

Landscaping: Heritage Landscape

Site Work: Miller Trucking & Excavating

The Metropolitan Airport Authority, which oversees operations at MLI, facilitated John Deere's plans to build the new facility by agreeing to purchase its old one on the south side of the airport for $3.1 million.

Carter says the airport authority expects to find another aeronautical use for the hangar complex - perhaps with regional carriers, given its capacity to house three 50-seat regional jets and up to two CR-J 700s or 900s. "We were excited about taking that over and then having a tremendous asset with Deere on the north side of the airport with their new facility," he explains.

When the airport took over the hangar in mid-May, Carter reported that a definitive use was not set for the facility, but he was "putting feelers out" for a new tenant.

MLI also performed $1 million in site improvements, including soil grading and installation of water and sewer lines, which John Deere will repay over a five-year period. Deere, in turn, was responsible for constructing the ramp area and taxiways that connect to the airport's taxiway system. The company also built its own fuel farm, which is designed to deliver at a rate of 250 gallons per minute.

In addition, John Deere donated an incinerator to the airport authority. The airport maintains/ operates the equipment, and picks up food waste in USDA-approved bags from Deere and other airport tenants. The service is especially important to Deere, because about 50% of the company's flights are international, reports Larrie Dahl, John Deere's director of global aviation services.

Touch & Go

From John Deere's perspective, a bigger aviation facility was necessary to support the corporate goal of growing from its present size of $27 billion to $50 billion by 2018, explains Dahl.

But after plans for the new facility were announced in early 2008, the economic downturn prompted the company to put the project on hold in 2009 - leaving the shell of the building as a reminder on the airfield, recalls Dahl.

During the construction hiatus, the company's aviation department never slowed down. In fact, Dahl notes, it got busier; and the project was revitalized when it became evident to senior leadership that the aviation group needed extra space. "It was just time to restart it and get it done," he says. Work crews completed the new facility in late 2010.

During the planning phase, Dahl's team studied other hangar complexes and talked to a variety of corporate flight departments about what they like and dislike about their facilities. Although they couldn't know for certain what the landscape of John Deere will be in 30 years, they tried to anticipate everything the flight department might need in the meantime. The facility consequently includes extra wiring in case TSA requires screening equipment at corporate flight facilities. Its conference room could also be easily converted into a TSA area, if necessary, notes Dahl.

Everyone on the 26-person aviation team, from pilots and maintenance technicians to schedulers and an administrative assistant, was heavily involved with the design of the new space, says Dahl. In addition to providing jobs during the roughly 18-month construction project, the aviation division has hired three more staff members since the facility opened.

"We knew what we wanted and we wanted to incorporate everything that we needed to be a top-shelf global aviation facility," he explains. "We believe we have the best facility in the world now for corporate aviation."

Nothing Flies Like a Deere

The new facility's amenities include an exercise room, separate men's and women's locker rooms, a pilot lounge and a room designed specifically for new mothers. "And just space," adds Dahl. "We've got extra space now that we can grow into."

When planning the space, the team considered customers and suppliers as well as company employees. "It's not just about the aviation department," Dahl specifies. "It's about the company as a whole and attracting global talent to Moline, Illinois, to continue to grow the company. (The new facility) is part of the John Deere strategy."

Thirty feet of heated ramp adds to the safety of moving airplanes in the winter, Dahl notes. And a polymer finish designed to increase reflectivity was incorporated while the hangar floor was poured.

An "extensive amount" of windows allow natural light to fill the space and reduce lighting costs, he continues, and power stations are located strategically throughout the building.

A partnership of three firms designed the new facility: OPN Architects managed the architectural, interior and landscape design; KJWW led planning of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; and Foth Engineering handled the civil design. Estes Construction served as the general contractor/construction manager.

Moving North

Dahl and Carter both describe the project as a partnership between the airport and John Deere, including the process of identifying the best location for the facility.

Originally, the airport focused on the south side, with the rest of the general aviation hangars and facilities; but all the options there were eliminated for various reasons, Carter recalls. Eventually, a north-side site, just west of the airport's main terminal, with convenient access to taxiways and roadways, was determined to be the best option.

"We basically exhausted every site on the airport," Dahl explains, noting that the prevailing option includes plenty of room for expansion and a ramp area four-times larger than the previous facility's. "They provided us with an excellent location," he says.

Quad City International logged roughly 41,375 general aviation tower movements in 2010. The rate fell a few percentage points during for the first three months of this year, mainly due to the cost of fuel, reports Carter.

Subcategory: 
Hangars

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