September 17, 2008

Millington Hangar May Lose Its Wings — Airport Studies Costs of Upgrades, Replacement

By Tom Bailey Jr

It may be cheaper to knock down the large wings of Millington Jetport's giant hangar than to bring them up to code.

That was the interim report an engineering consultant gave to the Millington Airport Authority on Tuesday.

The 36,000-square-foot hangar, flanked by 74,000 square feet of office and shop space, is capable of housing jetliners.

The 55-year-old building is one of the assets, along with an 8,000-foot runway and a tower staffed by air-traffic controllers, that distinguishes Millington among the state's airports.

But fire officials won't let the airport use the empty hangar to shelter fueled planes until the fire-suppression system is improved.

The authority hired Kimley-Horn and Associates last month to determine what needs to be done to bring the structure up to code.

The consultant has offered no cost estimate yet.

A major problem is the structural strength of the office and shop space in the wings. Engineers determined the columns and beams are too slender.

The cost of bringing the wings up to seismic code could be large, the consultant reported.

It may be more economical to knock down the wings and build new ones to suit the needs of future tenants.

On Tuesday, authority members asked the engineering firm to also estimate if it would be less expensive to rebuild the entire structure.

Exactly what improvements need to be made to bring the building to code depends on who the occupants will be, the consultant said.

In other business, the authority approved spending $9,358 to make changes that should reduce the airport's power bill.

The changes would include changing the lighting and installing programmable thermostats, executive director Tracy Williams said.

Through reduced power bills, the airport would recoup the improvement costs for all the buildings within eight years.

But the improvements to the control tower would be repaid in just 1.3 years, the terminal in nine months, and the fire station in seven months, Williams said.

- Tom Bailey Jr.: 529-2388

Originally published by Tom Bailey Jr. [email protected] .

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