Vision for the Future - Phase 1 & 2
There has never been a coherent vision for Blackbushe Airport. Its fortunes have varied and it has adapted to changing priorities and needs. The new owners intend to breathe new life into the Airport. The vision is to develop a small, modern aviation facility, focusing on small light aircraft and offering a wider range of business opportunities providing services for passengers, aircraft sales and maintenance and flight training.
To create a viable operation the intention is to increase maintenance and enhance training activity on site and also encourage other small scale aviation related businesses to locate at the site.
Initially there have already been some cosmetic changes with improved signage and site maintenance, and this work will continue.
Two phases of development are then planned. The first phase of the proposed development will rationalise the layout of the site to release new areas for improved passenger and airport management facilities and aircraft maintenance hangars. The current temporary hangars will be gradually replaced by permanent structures.
The medium to longer term aim is to create a community of aviation related businesses with a mix of hangars, workshops and related offices to house a range of aviation activities.
The purpose of these changes is initially to replace the hangarage lost to the site and to support and enhance the businesses already based at the Airport. There is also an opportunity to attract other, similar businesses and jobs to the site. Blackbushe Airport has been in use for many years and improving the developed area of land will enable best use to be made of the existing aviation infrastructure.
The changes at the site will lead to a gradual increase in high quality technical jobs in the aviation industry and opportunities for young people in the area in engineering and related business skills.
Over time, these changes will lead to an improvement in the quality of aircraft using the site with related better environmental (especially noise) performance.
There is no intention or opportunity to create a large Farnborough-like airport facility at Blackbushe. The site is constrained, as is set out below. The very existence of Farnborough, at the ‘high end’ of the private business aviation spectrum creates a need for a lower key facility to support smaller aircraft without the high costs associated with Farnborough.
The proposed changes at Blackbushe are unlikely to create any discernible change in the surrounding area. But the current form of Blackbushe is out of date, able to offer little, at present, to aircraft owners, operators and support businesses. These proposals are designed to deliver enhancement and improvement but not major change.
The scope of the initial work is limited but is designed to bring immediate visual improvements which will demonstrate the new approach the new owners have to the future of the site.
There is no cohesive corporate identity at present at Blackbushe and this will be improved. The site boundaries, particularly on the A30 were in poor condition and have already been upgraded. The entrance to the site is unprepossessing and will be tidied up. Directional signage will be rationalised and made more user friendly and some of the car parking areas will be improved.
Phase 1 Development
Phase 1 involves construction and more significant change at the Airport. It includes two main elements:
Firstly, passenger facilities, particularly for those using Wijet’s services are currently poor. Wijet occupies a part of the Terminal Building for its operations as well as for support accommodation. There is no purpose built passenger and crew accommodation. As an interim solution, a small passenger lounge was opened in November 2016 and is already very popular, however a much better equipped facility is urgently needed.
The Passenger Terminal operation is known as a ‘FBO’ (fixed base operation). Customers are prepared to pay for the speed, flexibility and security of a private charter flight but also expect to have access to a lounge area, meeting rooms, refreshments and good quality cloakrooms. These are not currently available at Blackbushe. Not all passengers will necessarily use this accommodation for every flight, but they must be available for the times when there may be a delay or, for example, if a group of people from a company are meeting up to travel together or if a meeting is held between flights.
Wijet's operations focusing on smaller, very light jets which are more reasonably priced and hence more accessible than larger, corporate jets, is growing steadily and to compete it needs to enhance the facilities it can offer passengers.
Crew members also require accommodation at an FBO including rest rooms and briefing rooms. Again, at present there is no purpose built accommodation and Wijet needs to improve what it can offer these personnel.
The Wijet operations and administrative team would also be housed in this new accommodation. Security requirements are now more demanding and having one, purpose built facility for the Wijet operation will provide a seamless, state of the art FBO for Blackbushe.
The proposal therefore is to construct a small two-storey building, close to the current Terminal Building, to provide some 12,400 sq. ft. (1,152 sq. m) of FBO accommodation to serve passengers, crew and the Wijet operations and administrative staff. This building would also replace the existing worn out café building. The Cafe important feature of the Airport but is in desperate need of new accommodation. Relocating it to this area will ensure it remains at the heart of the Airport.
The design and quality of this building will establish the benchmark for any future built development at the Airport.
New Hangar Space
The second element of the proposals involves the provision of additional hangar space. There is substantial interest from a number of aircraft manufacturers to house new maintenance facilities at Blackbushe and a general need for more aircraft ‘garaging’ capacity. It is proposed to replace the lost 40,000 sq ft over the next 3-4 years, providing a total of
up to 47,798 sq. ft. (4,440 sq. m.) of new modern hangar space.
Each hangar would contain ‘airside’ and ‘landside’ facilities. The ‘airside’ area will open onto a taxiway to give access to the main runway and will include a covered area for parking aircraft and for maintenance operations. Only staff and visitors permitted ‘airside’ will be able to access this area. At the rear of the building there will be some ‘landside’ offices, workshops and storage space to support the hangar activities with an entry from the 'landside' car park. It is anticipated that each unit would range from 7,480 sq. ft. (695 sq. m.) up to 14,270 sq. ft. (1,325 sq.m.) and in each case the supporting office / storage component of this would be an additional percentage of the total hangar space.
This phase would also involve some rationalisation of aircraft parking space in front of the Terminal Building to maximise convenience and efficiency.
Phase 2 Development
Phase 2 will build on the progress made in Phase 1. The timing of this will depend on demand, but the vision is to build up to a further 96,910 sq. ft. (9,003 sq. m.) of hangars together with similar ancillary office, workshop and storage space which would be an additional percentage of the total hangar space.
As training activity increases it may also be advantageous to establish a dedicated flight training school facility / clubhouse which would be within the floorspace quoted above.
This Phase of development may require improvements to the highway entrance to the site and the management and control of traffic within the site.