Business Aircraft Ops to 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland
This is a post by guest author Aaron Thayer, General Manager at The Cleveland Jet Center, a member of the UVair FBO Network. Aaron was asked to contribute to this blog because of his expertise in business aircraft operations in the Cleveland area. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Aaron’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
The 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC), July 18-23, will bring significant increases in general aviation (GA) traffic to the Cleveland area. While options will usually be available for short notice or last minute trips we recommend making arrangements as early as possible in order to secure the best aircraft parking and accommodation options.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Expect higher than normal congestion
There will definitely be heavier GA movements to the Cleveland area during the RNC period, so it’s important to make all arrangements – aircraft parking, crew accommodation, local transport, and in-flight catering – as early as possible. While official dates for this event are July 18-21, be mindful that traffic will be heavy on the 17th for the convention kickoff event on the 18th, and there will be a surge of operations departing Cleveland airports the evening of the 21st and morning of the 22nd.
2. The primary airport = KCGF
Cuyahoga County (KCGF) is on the east side of Cleveland close to the financial district. It’s 11 miles from the downtown area, about a 20-minute drive, and will be the closest airport to the RNC Quicken Arena venue site. KCGF is more of an executive GA airport, doesn’t handle scheduled commercial flights, and can handle up to Gulfstream G650-sized aircraft. Runway 6/24 is 5,102 feet with width of 100 feet. This location has a single fixed-base operator (FBO) offering full GA support services including hangar accommodation, in-flight catering coordination and rental vehicles. KCGF can accommodate 100-150 aircraft, depending upon the size of aircraft on the field. With predominantly larger aircraft, capacity may be closer to 100. We don’t foresee parking running out at KCGF during the RNC period. If parking does become an issue, airport authorities will allow drop-and-go’s, and operators may reposition to outlying destinations. Note that KCGF is not an airport of entry (AOE).
3.KCGF operating hours
KCGF operates 24/7, but the tower is only staffed 0700-2300 local. Normal FBO hours are 0600-2300 local, with overtime available upon request. During the RNC period the FBO will operate 24 hours, but there hasn’t yet been a decision on extending air traffic control (ATC) operating hours.
4. Access restrictions at KCGF
Prior permission required (PPR) mandates are not in place at KCGF. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) was published in early July, and a security perimeter will be established around the convention venue area during the event. Random stops and checks may occur in the general area of the convention venue, and there will be an inner perimeter that may only be accessed with appropriate credentials. During the RNC period, ramp access at KCGF will only be available via one transportation vendor, for security purposes. If you’re utilizing another transportation provider you’ll be able to use surface transport to take passengers to and from the FBO and utilize the FBO transportation to and from the aircraft.
5. Alternate airports
Hopkins Intl (KLCE) is located on the west side of Cleveland, about the same distance from downtown as KCGF. This is the primary AOE for the region. Burke Lakefront (KBKL) is another option to consider. It’s in close proximity to the RNC venue and has a 6,198 foot runway. PPRs will be needed for both KCLE and KBKL, based on the latest information we have available regarding the TFR that will be issued. Be aware that you’ll need to clear at a specific Transportation Security Administration (TSA) gateway airport when traveling to KCLE or KBKL airports, in order to obtain TSA clearance. Note that all three airports – KCGF, KLCE and KBKL – have only one FBO to choose from. It’s recommended that operators consider the capabilities of each FBO to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each, for their own particular operation.
6. Hotels and local transport
Hotels in the Cleveland area will be in high demand over the RNC period, and reservations should be made as early as possible. As delegates for this event already have their reservations, short notice GA operators to Cleveland may not find adequate hotel accommodations available within 15 miles or so of downtown. If crew accommodations are obtained some distance from the event venue, rental car options can be considered for crew transport. FBO personnel will be able to assist with ground transport requirements and may be able to provide some hotel accommodation options.
All three Cleveland airport options are workable solutions for operators planning to attend the RNC event this July. The preferred option, for many operators, will be KCGF due to its lack of commercial activity, fewer delays on departure and short drive times to key locations in the city. Additionally, KCGF won’t need a PPR for this event, unlike the other locations in the area, as it’s outside of the security perimeter of the TFR expected to be issued.
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