Virginia-based charter and aviation services provider Chantilly Air has opened its new US$15 million FBO at Manassas Regional Airport after a one year delay.
Originally slated to open between January and March last year, the completed complex consists of more than 60,000ft² of hangar space as well as passenger lounge areas, conference room space, a crew planning area and a fitness center.
“There were a few challenging aspects to the build,” said Tim Sullivan, Chantilly Air’s chief operating officer. “Between Covid-19 and some other environmental issues, including stormwater management problems, things took longer than we had anticipated. But we’re back on track, if there is such a thing right now.”
Building on experience
Manassas Regional Airport is the busiest general aviation (GA) airport in Virginia, accounting for roughly 30% of the state-wide US$1.1 billion in GA economic activity. Building upon 30 years of providing aviation services at Manassas that includes aircraft maintenance, charter, management, storage and ground support, Chantilly Air decided in 2018 to expand and open a new flagship FBO at the site.
“The Chantilly Air team looks forward to growing GA activity at the Manassas Regional Airport by providing comprehensive aviation services. Our goal is to create a memorable experience for passengers and crew.
“Superior customer service is at the core
of who we are, and our expanded facilities will allow us to provide this to anyone flying into the airport,” said Sullivan.
“We started at the airport in 1990 as a one aeroplane to one crew operation, and we’ve organically grown throughout the last 30 year adding on departments.
“When the opportunity came up at the airport to build an FBO, we put in our bid for it, and was fortunate enough to be selected.”
The FBO contains space available for Part 91 and Part 135 aircraft operations in addition to Chantilly Air’s FAA Diamond Awarded Part 145 Repair Station. This has created Manassas Airport’s only FBO that offers charter, maintenance, management, ground support and hangar facilities.
Caleb Stitely, Chantilly Air’s marketing and client relations manager said, “We’re really excited to expand our role to help support the thriving business communities of Northern Virginia and Washington DC. Business aviation is a catalyst for success for many companies and we look forward to welcoming them to the area.”
The team are finally at the details stage of the US$15 million build, said Jimmy Thate, the Chantilly Air FBO’s general manager. “It’s really all the little details now – the hangars are fully available. It’s now just putting everything together on the first floor where the FBO is going to be operating.
“The design is just incredible – everything from the lighting to the fixtures is really top notch, which is really exciting to see. My team is excited to go fully operational with the finished product.”
Stitely said, “The FBO is really designed towards the pilots and crew who will be spending significant amounts of time on the ground. We have a fitness centre for the pilot and private locker rooms. As well as a sound-proofed snooze room.”
The Chantilly Air team incorporated the thoughts and opinions of their pilots into the final draft of the FBO and facilities.
“I’ve been a pilot for Chantilly for 30 years and we have several pilots that have been working here for more than 15 years. We took all the collective pilot wants, needs and their knowledge and put that back into the FBO,” said Sullivan.
“Historically FBOs have been built functionally. Maybe you put in some cool carpet and some different colors, but they are rarely really designed. We had a designer come in and focused on what a pilot and the passengers want. We want people to see the FBO as more than a place to just use the restroom and get in the car.
“We want our customers to have the most pleasurable and memorable experience possible while doing that.”
The team will not be holding a grand opening at the new FBO because of Covid-19. “We’re not in lockdown but we also don’t want to expose our customers, clients and employees to something that would risk anybody’s safety,” said Sullivan.
“We are supporting our customers by using social distancing, wearing masks and following all the safety protocols that are required to operate the business, but we’re foregoing the fun stuff until it’s more appropriate. Fortunately, we did not have shut down throughout the pandemic.”
Chantilly Air Jet Center recently completed and implemented the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling Stage I adding to the company’s International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) Stage III certification.
IS-BAH incorporates a set of global industry best practices for business aircraft ground handlers and provides a Safety Management System (SMS). By achieving IS-BAH Stage I Certification, Chantilly Air embarks on the journey to become an IS-BAH Stage III operation, the highest level of the rigorous certification process.
Thate said, “The safety and security of our clientele and their assets are our top priority. We have built a facility that provides the best amenities in the Washington DC area for transient and local aviators, it is important that our team members be trained
and provide the highest level of service that match our facility.”
“We are grateful for the support of the City of Manassas and the Manassas Regional Airport Commission as we create an airport that becomes the hub of economic development for the local area,” said Sullivan.
“We’re bringing a full-scale turnkey FBO to the DC area which includes maintenance capabilities. We’re here at the airport and we can provide whatever services customers need from maintenance to fuel to hangar and it’s all under one roof here,” said Stitely.