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New Community Airport Opens in Tennessee

February 13, 2013

A new community airport opened Jan. 25 in Cleveland, TN, about 30 miles northeast of Chattanooga.

The Cleveland Regional Jetport - Photo by Mark FidlerThe Cleveland Regional Jetport (RZR) replaces nearby Hardwick Field, where the runway couldn’t be extended to accommodate larger general aviation aircraft – and, with them, the business – the community aims to attract with the new development.

“It’s good planning on the part of the state and local government to develop a more suitable and modern facility to replace one that couldn’t support air traffic in their region and could not be upgraded,” said Harry Houckes, NBAA’s Southeast regional representative.

Noting that several companies – including some that are household names – have office facilities in the surrounding area, Airport Director Mark Fidler explained that Cleveland Regional Jetport was conceptualized from the start as a center for business activity.

“Our goal is to attract business people,” he said. “The airport was purpose-built for use by business aviation.”

The more than $42 million project, funded primarily by a federal Airport Improvement Program grant with state and local matching grants, involved building a 5,500-foot-long and 100-foot-wide runway, a full-length taxiway and 9 acres of ramp space, plus an 8,000-square-foot terminal building -all from the ground up. The terminal building was designed to host meetings; its three conference rooms have full audio and video access, as well as Internet, and the building has Wi-Fi and kitchens for complete catering services.

Fidler said he has applied for a 500-foot runway extension, with the aim of completing it this summer. Also, the Federal Aviation Administration is developing GPS WAAS approaches for the airport.

“There are basically no obstructions to the approach [here], so it’s fairly straightforward,” Fidler said. “We’re anticipating a six-month time frame [for the WAAS approaches].”

Crystal Air, the FBO that formerly served Hardwick Field, has relocated to the new site as well.

In addition to the terminal building, the construction included erecting hangars. Fidler said the existing T-hangars already have sold out, so plans are underway to construct additional 20-bay T-hangar units.

The greenfield site took about two years to develop start to finish, with runway excavation and concrete pouring beginning in August 2012, said Fidler. “There’s a lot of community interest in the development of this airport,” he added. “They recognize the value that general aviation can bring to the local area.”