Chandler Airport sees more activity over 20 years The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler Airport sees more activity over 20 years

Chandler Airport sees more activity over 20 years
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By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

Preliminary projections indicate the Chandler Municipal Airport can expect to have up to 200 more airplanes based out of its facilities over the next 20 years.

The city’s spending the next year updating its airport master plan and has already turned up some data suggesting it will need more hangar space to accommodate the extra aircraft.

By 2040, the plan anticipates the Chandler Airport needing another 290,000 square-feet in storage space if it wants to attract more pilots.

The airport “will likely not see significant based-aircraft growth unless new hangar facilities are constructed,” a draft of the master plan states.

The number of single-engine planes and jets housed in Chandler is expected to grow from 441 to 640 and the number of annual operations may increase by 54,000 over the next two decades.

“There’s going to be more demand,” said Chandler Airport Administrator Chris Andres, “a large portion of that will be here.”

The facility will certainly get busier in the near future, Andres added, so the airport needs to prepare for the demand that’s coming to Arizona.

Nearly 12 percent of Maricopa County’s registered aircraft is based out of Chandler Airport – a market share that’s been increasing incrementally since 2005.

Despite the projected growth, planners don’t expect the future activity to completely max out Chandler’s airfield capacity.

Current operations take up about 43 percent of airfield capacity – a rate that’s projected to climb up to 56 percent by 2040.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s guidelines, capacity improvements are not considered a “high priority” until an airport exceeds 80 percent of its capacity.

“While no significant capacity improvement will be necessary, options to improve airfield efficiency will still be considered as part of this master plan,” a draft of the plan states.

The city has recently finished its first phase of updating the master plan and will next begin drafting recommendations for future improvements.

Any improvements that the airport may want could be dependent on the availability of grant funding from the state or federal governments, which is sought after by all the other airports in the Valley.

It will require a lot of analysis to determine what types of improvements will eventually be recommended, Andres added.

One of the recommendations could be to extend the airport’s runways beyond their current length of about 4,800 feet. The airport’s last master plan highlighted how extending the runway to 5,700 feet would be more favorable to corporate pilots looking to land business jets.

The city previously tried to pay for a runway extension through bond money, but voters rejected that idea in 2000 and 2007.

Opponents have repeatedly argued a longer runway would bring more noise, traffic and potentially jeopardize the safety of nearby residents.

“There is no such thing as a quiet airport,” Andres said, adding that improvements to the airport are a balancing act of appeasing multiple interests.

Though Chandler’s airport will always be a general aviation facility, Andres expects the city to attract more corporate clients in the future as more businesses set up headquarters around Chandler.

Tapping into the business aviation market could have a great positive impact on the city, he said, and bring in more economic activity.

“The economic impacts of what happens here spills out into the community – jobs, additional spending, tourism,” Andres said. “This is a wealth generator for Chandler.”

A 2016 study conducted by the city found that the airport’s operations generated an economic footprint valued at $109 million.

The master plan should be completely updated by early 2021. The city will be periodically posting updates of the process at chandler.airportstudy.com.

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