Changes coming to Middletown airport as city takes over operations

Recently, Middletown City Council approved a large supplemental appropriation for Middletown Regional Airport as the city continues its plan to take over the fixed-base operator operations on Jan. 1. On Tuesday, council approved an ordinance to begin purchasing aviation fuel from a supplier to sell at the airport when it begins the fixed-base operations in January. FILE PHOTO
Recently, Middletown City Council approved a large supplemental appropriation for Middletown Regional Airport as the city continues its plan to take over the fixed-base operator operations on Jan. 1. On Tuesday, council approved an ordinance to begin purchasing aviation fuel from a supplier to sell at the airport when it begins the fixed-base operations in January. FILE PHOTO

Middletown took its next step forward as it prepares to take over as the Fixed Base Operator at Middletown Regional Airport on Jan. 1.

Middletown City Council Tuesday unanimously approved spending about $150,000 to set up and maintain a self-serve fueling system at the airport. That amount includes funding already appropriated for the airport as well an $89,000 supplemental appropriation for the engineering and installation of the new self-serve fueling station. It will also include other costs such as rental of a temporary office space to house the new operation.

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The improvements also include fulfilling a long-time request by both based and transient users, members of the city Airport Commission, and other stakeholders at the airport to acquire self-service fuel facilities.

Six months ago, the city notified the current operator, Start Aviation, that it would not renew its contract when it expires Dec. 31. Start Aviation is affiliated with Start Skydiving, one of the airport’s tenants, and has an ongoing dispute with the city over a hangar lease that has lasted for more than a year. Start Aviation has been the airport’s operator for more than 10 years.

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“We want the (airport operator) to be more customer focused so we can attract more transient users who want traditional core airport services.”said Matt Eisenbraun, assistant economic development director.

“Small- and medium-sized airports are taking over the (operator) duties. We’d like to fold our … operations with our new education program with Cincinnati State and Butler Tech so someone could get a degree in airport management.”

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The city will spend $15,000 for the cleaning and recertification of the fuel tanks and fueling system as it takes over operations and sets up the self-serve fueling. The city prefers a self-serve model because it saves the costs of an attendant and allows pilots to refuel whenever they would like.

The new self-serve system will cost $75,000 and another $50,000 for engineering and installation.

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The city will likely set up temporary quarters to run its operations beginning Jan. 1 at an estimated cost of $9,000 from Jan. 1 through June 30. Those costs include utility, telephone, web, and security installation costs.

Eisenbraun said the date and status of transferring the office space that was included as part of the operator services contract has not been finalized. He said the ability to facilitate the standard operation and sell fuel via traditional methods is the most vital operation on an airport.

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Fast facts about Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field

The general aviation airport features the longest uncontrolled asphalt runway in Ohio at 6,100 feet. It is the longest runway in Butler and Warren counties and is one of the longest in southwest Ohio.

The airport’s main runway can accommodate jet aircraft as large as a Boeing 757.

There is also a 3,040 foot turf runway at the airport.

The airport also offers private, commercial and helicopter pilot training.

It is the home of Start Skydiving and Team Fastrax.

Approximately 110 aircraft are based at Middletown Regional Airport which logs more than 40,000 aircraft operations annually and sells 400,000 gallons of aviation fuel each year. The airport is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The airport contains 13 city-owned buildings that consists of 66 T-Hangar units, two 50 foot by 50 foot aircraft hangar units, an 8,000 square-foot Terminal Building, a 24,000 square-foot maintenance hangar, and 39,000 square feet of corporate/community hangar space. The city also owns and operates a 40,000 gallon above ground aviation fuel storage facility