Pilots flying into Boise Airport (KBOI) in southwestern Idaho might want to listen to ground taxi instructions carefully during the next 12 to 18 months as the busiest airport for more than 300 miles in any direction continues its runway resurfacing and taxiway realignment projects. The airport, also known as Boise Air Terminal or Gowen Field and owned by the city of Boise, is spending more than $8.6 million on construction projects designed to comply with FAA Advisory Circular 1505300-13A, Airport Design, published Sept. 28, 2012. According to Boise Airport director Rebecca Hupp, the project involves the closure and resurfacing of Runway 10L/28R (scheduled for completion this fall); rehabilitation of taxiways Alpha and Whiskey; realignment of taxiways Foxtrot, Kilo and Juliet; and maintenance and upgrade of other existing structures.
“This is really part of our regular construction schedule for maintaining existing pavement,” said Hupp, who indicated that upgrades are also planned for several parking structures and the airline terminal as more than $5 million of private funds will be invested in upgraded storefronts, amenities and branding through new food and beverage concession contracts recently approved by the city council.
The airport also benefits from the recent completion of a $33 million 268-foot ATC tower that was briefly the tallest building in Idaho when it opened in October last year. Housing both Terminal Radar Approach Control (Tracon) and Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (Stars) ATC systems, the new tower introduced capacity that allowed the FAA to add control of Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (KBZN) to Boise Tracon controllers, prompting a change in terminology from Boise Approach/Departure to Big Sky Approach/Departure when the new tower opened.
“Pilots like flying into Boise because of the lack of congestion, great instrument approaches and navaids, good infrastructure, excellent customer service at any of our FBOs and great weather,” said Hupp. “Plus, the airport is less than four miles from downtown, making it accessible whether coming in for a business meeting or catching a bite to eat during a fuel stop.”
Boise FBOs Look to the Future
The government and commercial investment mimic the recent substantial private investment by all three Boise FBOs. Western Aircraft, a Greenwich AeroGroup FBO that began as a corporate flight department based at Boise in the early 1950s, celebrated the opening of two new buildings representing a $4.7 million investment in facility improvements and specialized tooling in July.
Turbo Air, a Boise FBO for more than 50 years, recently invested $1 million in the construction of an 11,000-sq-ft hangar completed in November last year and remodels of tenant hangars in March this year.
“We needed the new hangar primarily to expand our maintenance activities,” said Turbo Air general manager Steve Martin, who indicated that the company primarily performs King Air, small Citation and Learjet maintenance, while occasionally working on piston singles. “We have an avionics shop and often retrofit older aircraft. The new hangar brings our total hangar space to 36,000 square feet spread across the three hangars. We’re good for at least the next five years.”
Jackson Jet Center
Jackson Jet Center, a relatively new player on the field created from the acquisition and merger of the former Boise Air Center and Boise Executive Terminal FBOs in 2005, completed a $3 million hangar expansion and facility upgrade in October 2012. The pilot services center upgrade, which included new fitness and shower facilities, offices, conference rooms and quiet areas for pilots, earned the FBO Air Elite status through the World Fuel Services network. The new 24,000-sq-ft hangar brought Jackson’s total hangar space to 116,000 sq ft, providing more space for the FBO’s fleet of owned and managed charter, tenant and transient aircraft, and allowing the FBO to expand its maintenance facilities and begin planning for an avionics shop.
“Neither Boise Air Service nor [Boise] Executive [Terminal] had maintenance; Executive had just gotten rid of maintenance before we acquired it,” said Jackson Jet Center CEO Jeff Jackson. “We wanted to be a full-service FBO, so we added the Part 145 [repair station certificate] and started by doing all the maintenance on our own airplanes. We just added another mechanic, bringing our total to seven, and we can be working on three to four aircraft at a time.”
One reason behind Boise’s gains in aircraft maintenance is the state’s new sales tax exemption on certain aircraft parts. Signed into law in March 2012, the law currently exempts materials, parts and components installed on private aircraft owned by nonresidents, installed on Idaho-manufactured aircraft sold to nonresidents, or installed on aircraft used for commercial purposes, from state sales tax until at least June 30, 2016.
“If you have any maintenance that needs to be done, bring it to Idaho,” said Jackson.