Building a commercial or private aircraft hangar is a considerably extensive and costly project from start to finish. It is a world filled with options, creativity, and functionality. With that, it also includes a world filled with complications, choice overload, and high costs. According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s most recent report, there were 5,236 airstrips in the United States. However, compare that to 36,588 total registered aircrafts, it is clear to see the importance of having numerous up-to-date facilities to house and maintain these planes.
You’ll get a look into what to do in the planning stage, designing the hangar, overseeing the building and construction, and post-construction maintenance. Here is the timeline of building an aircraft hangar.
Timeframe: 1-2 Years from Desired Finish
There is, perhaps, no more important phase in the process than planning. This is where a majority of the decisions will be made, a budget will be set, and the stage where personnel responsibility will be established. Researching and understanding the project is key to moving forward. Defining the needs and goals will give you a great starting place.
Obtaining the land and space available to place a hangar is the first stop. Will it be constructed in a public-use airport? If so, you should check with them to see how friendly they are to privately owned hangars. Now’s a great time to meet the other hangar owners and talk about the operating situation. All airport management is not made the same and you could run into a manager that runs the airport like a dictator and another that runs it like a partnership. Your mileage may vary, so know what you’re getting into.
The airport or FAA will provide a list of their rules and regulations otherwise known as the airport’s ‘Minimum Standards’. Understanding the minimum requirements and maximum sizes will make a lot of decisions for you. These standards can get petty, quickly. Standards like what size hangar door, if you’re allowed to have a refrigerator or couch, and no cars allowed are some examples of silly regulations that you might run into.
Utilities are also an important consideration and will be outlined in the minimum standard. The general rule is that if you can get sewer, water, and power to your hangar–do it. Even if you can’t afford to build that bathroom now, it will be nice to have it ready when you can. Choose your airport wisely and pay close attention to the minimum standards.
Don’t forget about your budget at any point along this project. Every commercial construction project lives and dies by the budget and many make the mistake of having a loose budget. The best way to maximize budget potential is by contacting vendors, sourcing materials, and allotting for labor costs. This is the budget and sticking to it will lessen stress and limit surprises while you finish the hangar build.
Timeframe: 1 Year from Desired Finish
Planning out your design may seem like the first step but it’s not until you know what you’re allowed to do that you should start with the design. Once that pre-planning is done, however, the design process is ready for you to dive in.
The basic structure of your hangar is probably the most important decision in the design stage. Deciding on the number of planes you’re looking to store will be first. Standard hangars hold one plane, have four walls, and a roof and door system. Consecutive and back-to-back hangars will hold multiple planes in freestanding hangars. A t-hangar will hold many airplanes in one hangar with an alternating pattern.
Doors are another design choice option. Sliding doors are cost-effective and sturdy but are difficult to open and must be cleaned. Vertical lift doors are dependable and usually motorized but are a bit costly. A bi-folding door opens vertically, is strong, and typically electric but they’re even more costly than vertical lift doors. For a budget-friendly option, a folding fabric door is forgiving in a crash and aesthetically pleasing but are of lower quality providing less security.
Look at as many building design options and door designs before making your choice. Remember to define your needs and let them guide your decision-making process.
Choosing to hire a professional architect and/or design company to create your hangar’s design can be a costly decision. If you can afford it, you know you’ll get high-quality designs and an accurate budget. They can put you in touch with builders and supply companies. The professional company will have the resources to make this process move a lot smoother.
Luckily, the internet has lowered the barrier to entry into the world of architecture. Plans are available in abundance online to download and use at your leisure. If you want to cut the costs of your build, choosing a set of pre-designed plans is your best bet. Chances are you’ll find something you love and is unique to your style and needs.
Building and Construction
Timeframe: 3-6 Months from Desired Finish
All the hard work is done…or is it? Plans have been made, designs crafted, and are it’s time to break ground. So, where do you start? Now’s the time to decide between a professional construction crew to come in a build your hangar, a pre-fab build being delivered and ready to be put together, or doing the whole project yourself.
These kits will come in pieces that can either be put together by a professional company or yourself with the proper equipment and safety precautions. The structure will be built first and the outer skin will overlay the building. These are simple, quick, and cost-effective.
Hiring a crew to come in and put up your hangar is a huge bonus. They are professionals and will handle the job with care and efficiency. The construction crew can problem solve their way out of jams allowing you to breathe easy.
Those of you that enjoy working with your hands and building things will love putting up an aircraft hangar. Pay attention to local regulations regarding building and safety and get at it. Many who go this route will use a wood post-and-beam structure to create the hangar.
You’re done! The hangar has been built and it’s beautiful. All of the plans in your head for owning an airport hangar are now a reality. One thing that you don’t want to forget about is the post-construction maintenance of your hangar. Here are a few things not to overlook to keep your hangar clean and long-lasting.
- Keep it Clean: Clean the floors, roll up hoses, tape down cords, and watch for debris.
- Fire Safety: Having electrical devices and work around flammable and explosive substances should require the utmost attention and care. Check regulations and follow them to the letter.
- Hangar Doors: Keep the doors oiled and maintained. Taking care of them now will save you headaches later.
Building an aircraft hangar could be a nightmare process…if you’re not prepared. Following these steps will have you ready with a budget, an understanding of the rules, a high-quality design, and the contacts to make it happen. Before you know it you’ll be the owner of your very own aircraft hangar.
Media Specialist, Tectonic Management Group
Dominic LoBianco is a contributing writer and media specialist for Tectonic Management Group. He regularly produces content for a vast array of media outlets.