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First Two Phases of Upgrade to Private Airport in Virginia Nears End; New Work To Begin in July

Mon June 10, 2024 - Southeast Edition #13
Aviation International News

Hampton Roads Executive Airport
Photo courtesy of Hampton Roads Executive Airport
Hampton Roads Executive Airport

For more than eight decades, Hampton Roads Executive Airport (KPVG) in Chesapeake, Va., has been privately owned and has twice endured bankruptcy.

That trend was reversed in 2000, however, when the original principals of the airport, Virginia Aviation Associates, purchased the site's 230 acres as well as an additional 400 acres to pave the way for a major expansion.

"Being a privately-owned airport, we own everything vertically, so to speak," explained majority owner Steve Fox, adding that KPVG is a public-use reliever airport for nearby Norfolk International in southeast Virginia.

The airport owns all the land, buildings and the fixed-based operations, or FBO, he told Aviation International News (AIN) in early June.

A family business, the airport's new ownership embarked on an aggressive development program, made up of three phases.

Airport in Middle of Complete Makeover

The initial phase of work consisted of several improvements and enhancements to the airport, including the construction of a new 5,350-ft.-long, 100-ft.-wide runway to handle aircraft up to the size of Boeing Business Jets.

The landing strip was constructed parallel to what was a 4,000-ft.-long, 75-ft.-wide main runway, which was simultaneously lengthened and repaved to convert it to a full-length taxiway. Both surfaces also featured new lighting.

Additionally, a new terminal was built at KPVG, along with a dozen hangars, and the airport was hooked up to the public sewer system.

All told, it amounted to a $55 million project.

Among the features within the 6,800-sq.-ft. terminal are a large lounge/passenger lobby, a 20-seat conference room, pilot lounge with snooze room, kitchenette, office space, concierge, crew cars and a porte-cochère. The FBO also offers mail service/package acceptance for its tenants.

AIN reported June 3 that Phase 2 of the airport's upgrade includes five 12,000-sq.-ft. hangars, the last of which will be occupied later in June. Capable of sheltering ultra-long-range business jets, they will bring the facility more than 500,000 sq. ft. of aircraft shelter. The hangar complex is due to be home to 23 turbine-powered aircraft ranging from a Pilatus PC-12 to a Cessna Citation Sovereign.

The development at the Titan Aviation Fuels-branded FBO also will feature a second fuel farm with self-service access. When combined with the existing tanks, it will give the airport a capacity of 32,000 gal. of jet-A and the same amount of Avgas, a type of aviation fuel, served by a pair of jet refuelers and a 100LL truck.

Another component of the $10 million project was a wash rack, which now permits the airport to host military helicopter squadrons during extensive training periods since those aircraft require frequent cleaning when operating in the offshore marine environment, according to Fox.

The company expects to break ground in July on the airport's third phase, also set to cost $10 million, which will include another 36,000-sq.-ft. hangar complex built to attract an Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) manufacturer as a flight test and research facility. AAM transportation uses electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to move people and cargo between places not easily served by vehicles or standard aviation.

"We are preparing the airport to transition into the next 20 years of alternative fuels," Fox explained, adding that it already has [a private] electric airplane charging station. "We're also looking at putting in a public electric charging station [as well as] a hydrogen production plant, so we would have not only Avgas and jet fuel and electric, [but] also have hydrogen fuel here."

Though Small, KPVG Serves Vital Function in Region

With its staff of 13, the non-towered airport — which sees nearly 90,000 operations a year — is open around the clock, but the FBO is only staffed from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m., with after-hours callouts available.

Fox noted that a pair of canine staffers at the airport are its "chief petting officers," Buddy and Victoria, who accompany Fox and his wife Bee, as well as their son Luke — KPVG's managing engineer/director of finance — to work every day and spend their time in the terminal spreading good cheer to customers.

"When people fly in on a stressful work trip, or have inclement weather or whatever, to be able to come in and relax and play with a pet and feel like they are at home, which is more or less our philosophy to running the FBO side," the elder Fox told AIN.

One of the airport's recent highlights came when KPVG hosted a visit by President Biden. Beforehand, more than 200 armed secret service agents set up security at the facility, and on the day of the visit, three V-22 Ospreys carrying the White House press corps accompanied the president's two helicopters, one of which was Marine One.

"We as a team had to be ready for that," said Fox, adding that the FBO's ventilation systems were tested ahead of time. "The blinds had to be lowered in all of the offices and hangars, all of the hangar doors had to be lowered, and none of our tenants could be milling around. It was an interesting ordeal to go through, but it was quite nice to see that the president was secure."

KPVG serves the entire Hampton Roads region, which includes six major cities. Fox noted that more than 100 federal agencies are located within 30 mi. of the airport, as are more than 10 million sq. ft. of warehousing for the Port of Virginia, which has seen a surge in operations in the aftermath of Baltimore's Key Bridge disaster in March.

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