The Massachusetts Port Authority Tuesday released a request for proposals that could result in the addition of a fixed base operator (FBO) on what is called the North Airfield, the portion of Hanscom Field closest to Hartwell Road in Bedford.
The outcome could mean aircraft on the ground near the Bedford boundary, as well as the first direct vehicular access to Hanscom facilities from Bedford streets.
The request calls for proposals on “the build-out of a parcel, or portions thereof, in the North Airfield Area of L.G. Hanscom Field,” for “aviation compatible development” on up to 29 acres. The site abuts Hartwell Road across from The Edge Sports Center playing fields and continues behind Werfen, the former Instrumentation Laboratory.
The document lists permitted uses as including “the selling of fuel to aeronautic public, storage, servicing, maintenance of aviation aircraft, general office use for aviation-related communications, operations, support, training, and administrative functions, and tenant employee areas.”
An FBO, according to one source, “refers to commercial businesses allowed to operate on airport grounds in order to provide services to the airport. In essence, they are private jet terminals typically located on the grounds of an airport.”
Three FBOs already service Hanscom: Jet Aviation and Signature Aviation, accessible from Hanscom Drive in Lincoln, and Rectrix Aviation on Virginia Road in Concord.
Tuesday’s announcement was expected, as Massport advised the Hanscom Field Advisory Commission early this summer that a development request would be issued in August. During the summer, Massport officials declined to answer requests to be specific about the nature of the intended development.
A site tour for prospective developers is planned for Sept. 16. The deadline for submitting proposals is Nov. 18.
According to the RFP documents, “The authority intends to construct an interim access road which will benefit development parcels prior to any proposer development…The successful proposer(s) may choose to relocate the access road at its expense to optimize the development potential and flexibility of the parcel…”
“The option to operate a fuel facility with fuel sales to the aeronautical public will be permitted for successful proposer(s) who meets airport minimum standards for Class I or Class II Full Service Fixed Base Operators at Hanscom,” the documents say.
A 1979 Massport document details minimum standards for FBOs at Hanscom, including fuel sales, ground handling, maintenance, parts and supply sales, and snow removal service. Hangar space is also a companion to an FBO.
According to Florida-based Presidential Aviation, which operates charter flights in and out of Hanscom Field, “an efficient FBO will provide streamlined and hassle-free security screening, plane boarding and will deliver your baggage to and from the aircraft to your ground transportation vehicle.”
“Most facilities offer restroom facilities, ground transportation arrangement, weather information areas, showers, aviation supplies, and concierge services for flight crews, pilots, and passengers,” says the Presidential website. “In some cases, they even provide in-flight catering services to aircraft. Most people refer to it as a full-service convenience station for aircraft.”
This isn’t the first request for development of the Bedford side of Hanscom. After the departure of mobile homes rented to Hanscom Air Force Base several years ago, Massport began developing plans for aviation use of what they began calling the North Airfield.
In January 2017 the port authority announced “plans to develop an RFP for new corporate hangar opportunities.” The request wasn’t released until February 2018. But the only realization was a contract for construction of some small so-called T-Hangars, replacing older structures that were replaced by the expansion of Rectrix.
In Tuesday’s RFP, it is noted that if the developer doesn’t use all 29 acres, “the authority may determine the development location within the North Airfield area in order to preserve optimal future development.”
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763