Media Release submitted by Zach Nelson, Passero Associates
April 29, 2015 6:11 a.m.


Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport
Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport

The City of Fernandina Beach’s Airport Master Plan Technical Advisory Committee moved forward with its third meeting April 9, 2015 in the city commission chambers.

Andrew Holesko, V.P. Program Manager for Passero Associates, made it clear it was time to get to work on solid goals that will achieve the best Master Plan possible. He asked the committee to help by not only identifying “good, reasonable ideas for Fernandina Beach,” but also keeping ideas that are bad for the city out of the plan.

Discussions followed that addressed critical elements including updating the airport with run-up areas on all six ends (as every other airport now has); adding a non-commercial terminal/welcome center; addressing fixed operation needs such as additional hangars; replacing the outdated maintenance building and fuel tanks; and utilizing an FDOT grant to improve fencing and security.

The team also agreed on choosing the Gulfstream G-IV as its critical aircraft. This decision will help improve current operations, as the airport is now using only 28 percent of its capacity. The G-IV is actually quieter than smaller jets and will finally justify a runway extension that has been in the existing Master Plan since the 1960s.

Gulfstream G-IVs have been using the Fernandina airport since their inception, but they aren’t able to take on enough fuel before departure to fly non-stop coast to coast. The runway extension would solve that problem and provide a substantial economic boost to the airport and the city. It would also reduce noise from smaller aircraft using the longer runway, since they would reach higher altitudes before flying over populated areas outside airport boundaries.

The team discussed further economic development with the help of Ken Creveling from Urbanomics, a Florida-based urban and real estate economic consulting firm. Creveling identified three geographical areas on airport property that are ideal for diverse economic development. Opportunities include restaurants, office space and travel-related sales space.

Creveling painted a realistic picture of small-scale development (5,000-80,000 square feet) connected by clean, curbed streets and manicured landscapes. He noted that by using more brick and mortar and less metal, the airport could be home to an attractive and modern business park unrivaled in Nassau County. These new areas can be made more accessible by connecting nearby roads such as Bailey and Jamestown directly to airport property.

A re-branding of the airport and its new amenities is an absolute necessity. The team will continue work on the new economic and development plans that will enhance the airport’s image. The intended results are a cleaner, brighter and more functional space for both locals and visitors – and the long-awaited arrival of more high-wage jobs to Fernandina Beach.

Working on behalf of the City, Passero Associates communicates to the City of Fernandina Beach, its citizens and Municipal Airport stakeholders, the ongoing process of developing a master plan for FHB. This planning process will be periodically reported to the public in the form of meetings to be held in Fernandina Beach. The FHB Communications Plan involves conducting and documenting five public meetings and distributing concise summaries to the public via periodic press releases; email; social media; and a website:

For more information on the planning process, please contact Zach Nelson at (904) 757-6106 or email to

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Randy McGee
Randy McGee (@guest_33546)
7 years ago out…here comes the commercial alternative to JIA for UPS, FedEX, and other carriers that may see it as a “less traffic, less cost” alternative. Take a look at what has happened to the neighborhoods around Craig Muni. Just saying, watch carefully how they are going to slide this one in and cause even more 18 wheeler traffic on A1A. Master plan…ha…why do we never hear of the “real” master plan until it is to late?

Bob Cap
Bob Cap (@guest_33796)
7 years ago
Reply to  Randy McGee

Runway 4/22 has a listed maximum load bearing capacity of 120,000 lbs. This is far less than any Boeing or Airbus freighter. A runway extension is meaningless for these aircraft. They are too heavy for FB.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott (@guest_33555)
7 years ago

A couple of points of clarification to some of the earlier comments. Based on my understanding:
1. There is only one runway (4/22 – runs NE/SW between Amelia River golf course and Crane Island) that has the potential for being expanded and the expansion would occur on the southern end towards the river. As noted, the advantage to such an expansion would allow aircraft taking off to the north to reach a higher altitude before passing over the residential homes between Amelia Parkway and Simmons Road. I don’t believe any of the other runways could be extended due to space limitations from the Parkway or Amelia River/Crane Island. The other advantage as noted would be to allow the longer range business jets to take on a full load of fuel and still allow sufficient rollout. As far as the facility being “capped”, the expansion would not require any change in the boundaries of the aeronautical usage areas of the existing airport property.
2. I think the idea of the airport becoming a UPS/FedEx destination is unrealistic. The key factor in supporting larger aircraft is not the runway length but the composition of the runway and its ability to support the weight of the bigger aircraft. While FedEx does have some single and twin-engine props planes in their fleet, their “go-to” aircraft is the cargo version of the Boeing 757. While the Gulfstream IV has a maximum take-off weight of 74,000 lbs, the 757 is 255,000. Additionally, the absolute minimum runway length for a 757 is over 6,200′, so none of the FB airport runways would qualify. In addition, both of the major carriers (and tier II carriers) already have operations at JIA with its quick access to I-95. I don’t believe there is enough cargo business in the area that would attract a mid- or large sized cargo operation to the FB airport.
As to the Master Plan being “new”. The airport has been operating under a Master Plan for decades. Under FAA guidelines, the Master Plan is intended to address the development needs for the next 20 years but due to this lengthly time, updates are generally done at least every 10 years. The FAA requires that the Master Plan consider the needs of the airport tenants, users as well as the general public. The City through the Airport Technical Advisory Committee provides all of these stakeholders with an open forum to provide their input.
3. Also, keep in mind that the airport is an enterprise fund and is self sufficient. Most of the major improvements come from FAA and FDOT grants which are not funded by taxpayer dollars but by user and permit fees from the aviation industry.
I am sure there will be some who will oppose any expansion of the municipal airport operations. Some will do so for individual financial interests (property value) and others for more esoteric quality of life issues. This open, transparent process allows all interested parties to provide their input. Ultimately, since the City is the sponsor/owner of the airport, it will be the City Commission that votes to adopt the plan with the additional safeguard of having to individually approve any major expenditure at the airport.
Seems like a pretty good process.

Randy McGee
Randy McGee (@guest_33568)
7 years ago

In regards to clarification of previous comments…BLAH BLAH BLAH….

Chris Cherry
Chris Cherry (@guest_33624)
7 years ago

If you can’t find a way not to be rude you may want to refrain from commenting. Dave actually ran the airport for a bit as interim City Manager, so he knows a thing or two. I’m sorry you were offended by his response, but believe me when I say that your comment and subsequent response both suggest you could learn a lot from others more informed and experienced on the topic.

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_33763)
7 years ago

There’s always someone with a scientific explanation as to why bumble bees can’t fly and there’s (at least) two sides to every story. Ditto with airports and how a little expansion here and there “won’t make a difference”. One of the potential problems is that aircraft are highly-maintained and, unlike automobiles, may remain in service for 20 or 30 years or more. When you extend the runway to allow better access to a few “newer, quieter” aircraft, the older, noisier aircraft don’t go away. In addition, extending the runway will attract even more of the larger “noisier” aircraft that couldn’t previously land on a short runway.

JJ (@guest_33781)
7 years ago

Mr. McGoo, your comment shows you know nothing about what you speak,that comment won’t fly and you’re grounded. Mr. Lott’s explanation is exactly perfect . The Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign so go back to your seat Randy and grab a nap.

Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
7 years ago

As a property owner in Egan’s Bluff, I bristled at the comment that ” some will complain due to loss of property value” !!! Wow, excuse me, but I am a tax-paying citizen of this community and this is a very real concern. Those of us who live in the flight lane for this proposed expanded runway are VERY concerned with any expansion that would impact our neighborhoods due to increased air traffic.

This is only common sense.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott (@guest_33790)
7 years ago

Peggy, there was no intent on my part to minimize your concern about property value since our homes generally represent one of the largest financial investments we have, but was not the airport there when you purchased your home? The extension, assuming it is done, should actually result in less noise for aircraft taking off on runway 4 and flying over your neighborhood since they will be at a higher altitude. The extension won’t impact planes coming in on a runway 22 approach since there is already a 440′ displacement there. Yes, attracting more aircraft means more landings and take-offs and more noise and I understand your concern there. Provide your input, as well as that of your neighbors, to the Master Plan committee. FB will always be a general aviation airport and not a commercial one, but we must recognize that attracting corporate jets provides benefits to the community as well.

Vince Cavallo
Vince Cavallo(@grandvin)
7 years ago
Reply to  Dave Lott

“but was not the airport there when you purchased your home?”

yes it was, mine too. It was there with the approximate 1 mile runway not the ones envisioned now. Lastly, this issue was supposed to have been settled in 1999 during the last attempt to increase the runway lengths. Anyone who built or remained in their home at that time should have been secure from further expanison. What is next, someone decides to build up the runways to support commercial flights?

Betsie Huben
Betsie Huben (@guest_33810)
7 years ago

In previous articles the term airport “expansion” was used and then the speaker retracted his remarks saying he made a wrong word choice. Any “extension” of the airport runway is absolutely an “expansion” particularly when the airport is choosing to facilitate larger aircraft. Will the larger aircraft be flying over your home, yard, porch? If not, I would suggest that the residents who will be most affected be consulted. There is probably a reason no extension/expansion has taken place since the 1960s.

LM (@guest_33873)
7 years ago

The published price for Jet A fuel at Fernandina is $5.99 per gallon, 30% higher than the national average of $4.64 and 200% more than the lowest prices in the region of just over $3.00. If we want to increase general aviation traffic, introducing a second FBO for competition or structuring the city’s lease to the FBO operator to put limits on fuel prices would be a good start.

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