The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has awarded a $1.28 million grant to the Collegedale Municipal Airport for an expansion project that will include additional hangars for aircraft, according to Airport Director Ryan Byford.
The airport applied for the grant earlier this year and received it during the summer, he said. The funds will be used to accommodate the increasing number of people wanting to access the airport.
According to Byford, a 2019 graduate of Southern Adventist University, the aviation industry has experienced a higher demand recently, and the Collegedale airport is no exception.
“We currently have a hangar waiting list with over 40 people,” he said, “which demonstrates the demand for the hangar space and the desire for folks to base themselves and their aircraft at the Collegedale airport.”
Byford said the airport can expect around 45 different operations on an average day. These operations include a mix of personal use and flight training.
Industrywide, “[there has been] everything from shortages in pilots to aircraft maintenance technicians,” Byford explained further. “So I want to put the Collegedale Municipal Airport in the forefront to capture that demand.”
Plans call for the construction of 10,000-square-foot hangars with spaces for aircraft parking. Although conceptual designs are still being developed, Byford hopes the expansion will be completed relatively soon. The grant is a five-year funding mechanism, but he wants to finish the hangars in three years.
He wants to see the Collegedale airport add value to the area and help it grow.
“The best way to do that is to grow our footprint by increasing our economic impact and creating good paying jobs,” he said.
Byford hopes the expansion project will create new jobs in the area, as well as improve the local economy by bringing more people to Collegedale to eat at local restaurants and stay in the city’s hotels.
He said airport staff have been working to find opportunities for the airport to grow ever since he started as director in February.
The Collegedale Municipal Airport was established as a private airport in 1965, according to the airport’s website. In 1970, it was licensed for public access.
“We offer a friendly, convenient alternative to the ‘big airport’ hustle and bustle with Avgas, and Jet-A fuel available, and we never charge a ramp fee,” the website states.
The Collegedale airport is used solely for general aviation, often personal or business flights, Byford said. General aviation is considered civilian, non-commercial flying.
Engineers from Garver Aviation have been working on the expansion project, Byford explained further. The State of Tennessee and several stakeholders are working on the project as well.
“Airports are the economic engine to their surrounding community,” he said. “It benefits everyone to have a thriving, active airport in their city.”