Boire Field Runway Reconstruction Among FAA's Largest General Aviation Projects

Dan Vnuk
Published in: 

For years, tenants and transient pilots alike "made due" with Runway 14-32 at Nashua Airport - Boire Field (ASH) in New Hampshire. At 5,500 feet long, the airport's sole runway was simply too short for some jets. In addition, it hadn't been repaved since 1987 and was crowded by an adjacent taxiway. 
All of those shortcomings were fixed - and several other airfield improvements added - when the general aviation airport built a new 6,000-foot runway just 300 feet northeast of 14-32's original location. Construction concluded in fall 2012, and the final inspection occurred in June 2013, after all punch list items were completed.

As anticipated, the extra length was a welcome addition for both based aircraft and fly-in traffic. The runway's new position provides proper separation between it and a nearby taxiway, and also allows room for runway safety areas at both ends, thus meeting current FAA design standards.

Project: Runway Relocation & Reconstruction
Location: Nashua (NH) Airport - Boire Field
Owner & Operator:  Nashua Airport Authority
Total Cost: $23 million
Airport Improvement Program Grant: $16 million
Funding:  95% FAA; 2.5% NH Dept. of Transportation; 2.5% Nashua Airport Authority/city of Nashua
Construction Timeline: Nov. 2011 - fall 2013
Project Management
Engineering Design & Construction Phasing:
Gale Associates
Environmental Subcontractor:
GZA GeoEnvironmental
Soil Testing & Geotechnical Services: Miller Engineering & Testing
Surveyor: Little River Survey Co.
Construction Team
General Contractor: Continental Paving
Electrical Subcontractor: KOBO Utility Construction Corp.
Landscaping Subcontractor: Lynch Landscaping
Painting: L&D Markings
Fencing: Fences Unlimited
Erosion Control Subcontractor: Lemay Landscaping
Other Subcontractors: Vermont Sitework; Labor Ready; Martinez Road Construction; Kidder Concrete; Nicom Coatings; FB Hale Street Sweeping; Black Rock Paving; John C. Brown
Airport History: Nashua Airport dates back to 1934, when the city bought a small grass runway airfield without any hangars. Over the next several years, the city paved the 2,000-foot runway and constructed some buildings with federal help. In 1943, it was named Boire Field, after Ensign Paul Boire, Nashua's first casualty in World War II. The Nashua Airport Authority was established to oversee the airport in 1961 and a control tower was added in 1972.

The new 14-32 is also more level than its predecessor. The 32 end of the former runway was 10 feet lower than the 14 end, which previously affected both takeoffs and landings.

ASH's runway improvements were made possible with a $16 million Airport Improvement Program grant. According to FAA representatives, the airport's new runway is one of the largest general aviation construction projects the administration has undertaken to date.

Total cost of the project - including wetland mitigation, tree clearing and the construction of easements for nearby homeowners - was $23 million.

Corporate Friendly

Crews built ASH's new 6,000-foot runway directly next to its existing 5,500-foot runway, which was at the end of its 25-year lifecycle. After the new 14-32 was commissioned, crews removed the previous runway.

The additional 500 feet of length provides a greater margin of safety and allows larger jets to take off with full fuel tanks and more passengers. The extra capacity facilitates transatlantic flights to and from ASH.

Currently, 14 jets are based at the 400-acre, two-FBO airport. The largest is a 19-passenger Gulfstream V. With a standard takeoff distance of about one mile, G-V pilots had little margin of error on ASH's previous 5,500-foot runway - particularly in summer, when hot weather provides less lift during takeoff. The new, longer runway allows the Gulfstream V and other corporate jets more room during takeoffs and landings. With a range of 5,800 miles, the G-V based at ASH can now travel from there to China - and points in between - without stopping to refuel.

Beyond domestic and international flights for corporate tenants, ASH's new and improved runway serves a diverse blend of traffic - including military missions, recreational jaunts, charter activity and touch-and-go practice for pilots in training. One of the few kinds of traffic it doesn't accommodate is scheduled commercial service. 

Relocating and upgrading Runway 14-32 was a capstone project for Airport Manager Royce Rankin, who oversaw all but the final inspections and sign-offs. After serving as airport manager for more than two decades, Rankin retired at the end of May and transferred responsibilities to Stephen Bourque.

"I could not be more proud of the total cooperation of all involved in the endeavor to make Boire Field a truly first-class airport," Rankin reflects.

More Than Concrete

Construction of the new 14-32 lasted nearly two years - including a five-month delay due to winter storms. Work began in November 2011 and finished in fall 2013. The entire project, however, spanned seven years from initial planning to completion, notes Rankin.

In addition to installing the new runway, crews rebuilt three stub taxiways and extended Taxiway A on both ends to mirror Runway 14-32's new length. Other components of the project included markings, lighting and signage for the new runway and taxiways. The airport also installed obstruction lights on the east side of the runway, a new instrument landing system glideslope on Runway 14 and a precision approach path indicator on the 32 end. 

When Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta came to ASH for its dedication ceremony, he mentioned the airport's importance as a reliever for Boston's Logan International Airport and described ASH's new runway and other airfield enhancements as "critical safety improvements."

Bonus Buys

Because ASH's runway project came in under budget, the airport was allowed to purchase two pieces of snow removal equipment with some of its allocated, but unspent, funds. The airport will add a new John Deere 764 high-speed rubber-tracked dozer for moving snow and will take delivery of a Wausau-Everest SnoGo MP-3D in April for use with the airport's existing front-end loader.

ASH plans to use the last of its unspent grant funds to upgrade the airport's perimeter fence and gates. Work on the security enhancements is expected to occur later this spring and summer.

Local Support

With the FAA providing 95% of the project's funding, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and the airport authority/city of Nashua each paid for 2.5% of the costs.

Christopher Williams, president of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the airport's importance to the local community and the 30 businesses that directly revolve around the airfield when he spoke at the project's groundbreaking ceremony in 2011. "Business that flows through Boire Field amounts to $28 to $30 million annually for the region, and there are roughly 300 jobs directly connected with the airport," said Williams. "Between employing people and its economic impact, the airport itself is one of the major economic engines in Nashua."

ASH is located just three miles from Nashua's central business district. City officials estimate that the recent airfield construction created more than 40 full-time jobs.

"When you look at the total picture, including the reconstruction, it's quite a bit of money being put back into the local infrastructure," noted Williams.

With the project complete and aircraft operators enjoying ASH's upgraded airfield, city and airport officials hope that the new runway will bring even more business interest and investment to the area.


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