The History of Republic Airport

1. Farmingdale’s Aviation Origins:

Located in Farmingdale, Long Island, Republic Airport is an historically significant airfield to the region and the world, having played both military and civilian roles. But long before it became an airfield, it gave rise to the manufacturers that built airplanes.

“The Industrial Revolution and airplane manufacture came to Farmingdale during World War I when Lawrence Sperry and Sydney Breese established their pioneering factories in the community,” wrote Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas in their book, Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale (Arcadia Publishing, 2016, p. 9). “They were drawn by the presence of two branches of the Long Island Railroad… the nearby Route 24, which brought auto and truck traffic to and from the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge in Manhattan; the level outwash plain, which provided land for flying fields; and the proximity to skilled workers… “

The area’s first aviation roots, however, were planted as far back as 1917. The Lawrence Sperry Airplane Company, incorporated that year with $50,000 of capital and located on Rose and Richard streets in the village of Farmingdale, produced its first aircraft in the form of the Messenger.

Designed by Alfred Verville of the US Army’s Engineering Division at McCook Field, the minuscule, 17.9-foot-long, all-wood biplane was intended for “aerial motorcycle” missions, alighting in small clearings to drop off and pick-up messages from field commanders, thus earning its name. Farmingdale’s aviation roots were equally cultivated by Sydney Breese, whose Breese Aircraft Company, located on Eastern Parkway, designed the Penguin. Resembling the Bleriot XI, the mid-wing airplane, powered by a two-cylinder, 28-hp, roughly-running Lawrence engine, was a non-flying, preflight trainer intended to aid US Army pilot transition from primary to operational types. Deployed on the open prairies of Texas, it sported a wingspan too short to produce lift, but allowed fledgling aviators to gain the feel of pre-departure aerodynamic forces on their horizontal tails. Of the 301 produced, only five were ever used for this purpose; the remainder were placed in storage.

2. Fairchild Aviation Corporation:

If Lawrence Sperry and Sydney Breese laid Farmingdale’s aviation foundation, then Sherman M. Fairchild cemented it.

Initially interested in aerial photography equipment, he founded the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation in 1920, selling two such devices to the Army, and further developed the company into Fairchild Aerial Surveys to engage in map-making when he had received a contract for an additional 20.

Seeking to replace the myriad of airplane types he operated with a single, specifically- designed camera platform, Fairchild devised the required specifications for one, but could not locate a manufacturer able to build it at a reasonable cost. Forced to do so himself, he established his third aviation company, the Fairchild Aviation Corporation, and moved into the Sperry factory in South Farmingdale, vacated as a result of founder Sperry’s tragic death in December of 1923.

The high-wing, strut-braced, single-engine utility aircraft, designated FC-1 and first flying in prototype form in 1926, featured an enclosed and heated cabin to protect the pilot and his camera equipment, but its original OX-5 engine proved inadequate. Retrofitted with a higher-capacity Wright J-4, it was redesignated FC-1A.

The FC-2 production version, supported by wheels, floats, or skis, featured increased cabin volume. Powered by a 200-hp Wright J-5, the aircraft, intended for commercial operations, sported a 31-foot overall length and 44-foot wingspan. Accommodating a single pilot and four passengers, or up to 820 pounds of cargo, it had a 3,400-pound gross weight and could attain maximum, 122-mph speeds and operate 700-mile segments.

Demand at the South Farmingdale factory soon eclipsed capacity. After aerially surveying the region, Fairchild himself chose a 77,967-acre alternate on the south side of Route 24 and Conklin Street in East Farmingdale, a site which offered prevailing, South Shore winds and multiple-mode ground access by means of a railroad line and the major, Route 110 corridor, which would facilitate both personnel and raw material transport to the new field. Repackaged into airplanes, the latter could then fly out.

“The 77,967-acre Fairchild Flying Field was developed in the late winter and early spring of 1928 and was originally owned and operated by the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Manufacturing Company,” according to the Long Island-Republic Airport Historical Society. “The first flights from (it) took place in (the) late spring of 1928 after the Fairchild Airplane and the Fairchild Engine factories were completed and aircraft were produced (there). Fairchild built Model 41, 41A, 42, 21, 100, and 150 airplanes… “

Wings, like those of the Hempstead Plains to the west, once again rose from the farm fields of Long Island, built, propelled, and supported, respectively, by the Fairchild Airplane Factory, the Fairchild Engine Factory, and the Fairchild Flying Field, after Faircam Realty, Inc., purchased the land and its initial layout was established on November 3, 1927.

Although Fairchild produced multiple models at its new Long Island aviation center, its roots would quickly prove tenuous. Moving its headquarters to Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1931, after only three years, it vacated its facilities, which were almost immediately reoccupied by the American Corporation, or AVCO, whose Airplane and Engine divisions produced the Pilgrim 100 transport for American Airways. But the Depression, taking too large a bite out of the economy, severely diminished demand for it, since aircraft acquisitions were high on a company’s cost reduction list, and its presence proved shorter than Fairchild’s. By mid-1932, it had equally disappeared.

3. Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation:

Initially located in Valley Stream, where it designed floats, the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation moved further east, to the Fairchild Flying Field, and took up residence in the former Fulton Truck Factory, where it hatched its first production fighter, the FF-1. Powered by a single, 750-hp Wright engine, the biplane, with a retractable undercarriage, was also offered in scout configuration, as the SF-1.

The most significant aircraft to emerge from the East Farmingdale production line, however, was the Duck. Tracing its origins to the Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corporation’s XO2L-1, it had been submitted to the US Navy in 1931, but, since Loening himself lacked the required facilities to build it, he turned to Leroy Grumman, his former colleague, who re-submitted it in modified form. Accepted on April 25, 1933, the biplane, called XJF-1, was powered by a 700-hp Twin Wasp engine, which drove a three-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller. Its bracing, consisting of one set of struts outboard of the fuselage and a second one, of wires, between the two wings, was minimal for its day. Water operations were supported by a centerline, under-fuselage float, into which the undercarriage retracted.

In all, 632 JF and J2F Ducks were produced, pressed into global, multiple-role service.

Although Grumman’s Farmingdale presence exceeded that of all others, it nevertheless ended after a half-decade, in 1937, when it relocated to larger headquarters in Bethpage, Long Island.

4. Seversky Aircraft Corporation:

Seversky Aircraft Corporation next took center stage in Farmingdale when it relocated there from College Point in Queens, occupying the former American Corporation factory.

A decorated World War I ace, Alexander P. de Seversky, like Igor Sikorsky, immigrated to the US from Russia, and in 1923, developed the first gyroscopically-stabilized bombsight at the Sperry Gyroscope Company, before establishing his own Seversky Aero Corporation, which focused on aircraft instruments and parts.

Injected with fresh capital, it initially occupied the EDO Corporation’s floatplane factory.

His first major design, the SEV-3, was both aerodynamically sleek and progressive, reflecting Seversky’s aviation-intuitive nature. Powered by a single, 420-hp, nose-mounted, Wright J-6 Whirlwind engine, the all-metal, low-wing aircraft, accommodating a pilot and two passengers in sliding, tandem canopied cockpits, was either supported by a wheeled undercarriage or floats, and in 1933 established a world speed record for piston amphibians. Two years later, on September 15, it sustained a 230-mph airspeed.

The foundation of many subsequent versions, which externally exhibited only minor variations over the basic design, it evolved into the next major iteration, the BT-8. As the first all-metal, enclosed cockpit design operated by the US Army Air Corps, it featured a 24.4-foot length and 36-foot wingspan. Powered by the 400-hp Pratt and Whitney R-985-11, the 4,050-pound airplane, accommodating two, had a 175-mph maximum speed. Thirty were built. It led to the definitive version.

Originally occupying Hangar 2 on New Highway and today used by the American Airpower Museum, Seversky Aircraft Corporation took over the Grumman factory in 1937 when it had relocated to Bethpage, thus maintaining two facilities. But, echoing the short history of the East Farmingdale airfield’s tenants, it came to an abrupt end: although Seversky, like many other aviation-minded “geniuses,” possessed the necessary design skills to create progressive airplanes, he lacked the necessary managerial flip-side of the equation needed to devise a proper, and profitable, business plan to market them, resulting in a $550,000 loss by April of 1939. While conducting a European sales tour six months later, on October 13, he was ousted by his own board of directors, who voted for his removal from the very company he had founded.

Reorganized, it was rebranded “Republic Aviation Corporation.”

5. Republic Aviation Corporation:

Fairchild Flying Field’s fortune was about to change. Fueled by World War II, the fledgling Republic Aviation Corporation would explode in size and its roots would become so deeply implanted in Farmingdale soil that it would be decades before they could be unearthed.

Instrumental in that war was the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

Succeeding the Seversky P-35, it was the result of Army Air Corps requirements, which included a 400-mph airspeed, a 25,000-foot service ceiling, at least six.50-caliber machine guns, armor plating protection, self-sealing fuel tanks, and a minimum fuel capacity of 315 gallons.

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, which dwarfed all other aircraft, was the world’s largest, heaviest, single-engine, single-seat strategic World War II fighter, offering unequaled dive speeds.

War-fed growth of the officially-renamed “Republic Airport” resulted in the expansion of the company’s existing factory on the south side of Conklin Street, as well as the construction of three additional buildings, the installation of a control tower, and the lengthening of its existing runways, all in an effort to support P-47 production, which totaled 9,087 units in Farmingdale alone and required a work force of 24,000 to accomplish by 1944. Employees filtered in by the thousands every day. A round-the-clock production line spat a completed aircraft out of the factory every hour, and these were then ferried by the Women Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPs. Republic Aviation, one of the country’s primary defense arteries, pumped man-and-machine into the agricultural plains of Farmingdale and transformed them into an arsenal of democracy within an 18-month period.

“By 1945, Republic was contributing more than 30 percent of the Army Air Force fighters to the war effort against the Luftwaffe in the skies of Europe,” wrote Leroy E. Douglas in his “Conklin Street Cut-Off” article published in the September 1984 issue of Long Island Forum (p. 182). “Thus, Republic, Ranger, and its 23,000 plus workers-more than half of whom were women-did their part to win the war.”

When World War II’s doors closed, so, too, did those of the Thunderbolt factory, and Republic was forced to diversify its product range in terms of purpose and powerplant, converting military Douglas C-54 Skymasters into commercial DC-4 airliners, producing 1,059 civilian Seabee amphibian aircraft, and attempting to design a passenger transport of its own.

The resultant aircraft, the Republic XF-12 Rainbow–along with the competing, and identically-powered, Hughes XF-11–both received a contract for two.

Emulating the graceful lines of the Lockheed Constellation, the Rainbow, featuring a 93.9-foot overall length and incorporating design experience amassed during Republic’s fighter aircraft development, exuded an appearance quintessentially captured by Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine when it reported, “The sharp nose and cylindrical cigar shape of the XF-12 fulfills a designer’s dream of a no-compromise design with aerodynamic considerations.”

Peace proved the aircraft’s enemy. The close of World War II obviated its (and the comparable Hughes XF-11’s) need. Nevertheless, because of its long-range, high-speed and -altitude, day and night, limited-visibility photo-reconnaissance capability, it was ideal as a territory-mapping platform. Indeed, on September 1, 1948, the second of only two aircraft built photographed its transcontinental flight path from the Air Force Flight Test Center in Muroc, California, to Mitchell Field in Garden City, Long Island, during Operation Birds Eye.

Returning to its military roots, Republic entered the pure-jet era with a P-47 Thunderbolt successor.

Featuring a 37.5-foot length, the design, conceived shortly before the end of the war in 1944, retained the straight wings associated with propeller airplanes. These spanned 36.5 feet.

First flying on February 28, 1946, the 19,689-pound fighter-bomber, designated F-84 Thunderjet and able to climb at 4,210-fpm, established a national speed record of 611 mph, as powered by the 3,750-thrust-pound J35-GE-7. Its range was 1,282 miles and its service ceiling was 40,750 feet. Its production totaled 4,455 units.

Development of its successor began in 1949. Because of an Air Force funding shortage, Republic reduced development costs by retaining commonality, to the tune of 60 percent, with the F-84, but introduced swept wings. The aircraft, powered by a 4,200 thrust-pound Allison XJ35-A-25 engine and initially designated YF-96A, first flew on June 3 of the following year, three months before it was renamed F-84F Thunderstreak.

Korean War-sparked fund increases enabled Republic to complete a second prototype, which first flew on February 14, 1951 with a YJ65-W-1 engine, and it was followed by the first production example, which took to the skies on November 22, 1952. The type was deployed by NATO countries during the Cold War.

F-84F Thunderstreak production totaled 2,713 airplanes.

Nevertheless, Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas summarized Republic-based aircraft manufacturing by stating in their book, Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale (pp. 7-8). “While aviation started in Farmingdale with cloth-covered triplanes and biplanes and prop engines, after World War II Republic helped moved the United States into the jet age with the F-84 and F-84F, which assisted US forces in Korea and NATO nations in the 1950s.”

6. Fairchild Republic Corporation

Although Fairchild departed the very airport it had created in 1931, that absence was short-lived. Reappearing three years later, it took up residence in its former engine factory as the newly formed Ranger Aircraft and Engine Corporation and remained there until 1948. But, for a second time, history was to come full cycle.

Acquiring Hiller Helicopters nine years later, it became Fairchild Hiller, and in July of 1965, it purchased the majority of Republic stock, resulting in the Republic Aviation Division of Fairchild Hiller. Fairchild had thus returned to the soil in which it had planted its first seeds. In 1971, it continued its buying spree, purchasing Swearingen and producing and marketing the 19-passenger, twin-turboprop Fairchild-Swearingen Metro commuter airliner. The following year, the company adopted the official title of “Fairchild Republic.”

Its principle design, conceptualized before the Republic acquisition, was given birth by the Air Force requirement for a close air support aircraft incorporating simplicity, ease of maintenance, and short-field performance, in order to operate from small forward air bases close to the battle line.

Designated A-10 Thunderbolt II and enjoying a production run of 733, it was instrumental in the Gulf War and during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

7. Post-War Manufacturing:

Although Republic Airport and its aviation companies had been associated with mostly-military aircraft design and manufacture, several diverse commercial and space components also emerged from its doors.

Integral to the Boeing 747, for instance, were the leading edge slats, trailing edge flaps, spoilers, and ailerons built by the Republic Aviation division of Fairchild Hiller, while it was also contracted to provide a similar role in its proposed, but canceled, supersonic 2707 airliner.

Equally integral to the Space Shuttle were the Fairchild Republic components manufactured in Farmingdale.

After awarded a $13 million contract by Rockwell International of Los Angeles on March 29, 1973, Fairchild Hiller designed and developed six aluminum vertical tail stabilizers, which sported 45-degree leading edges and measured 27 feet high by 22 feet long, in Hangar 17, along with their associated rudders and speedbrakes. The first, installed on test vehicle Enterprise, facilitated its atmospheric launch from a piggy-backed 747 platform over Edwards Air Force Base on February 18, 1977, while the others were mounted on Space Shuttles Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor.

Expanding the commuter airliner involvement initiated with the Swearingen Metro, Fairchild Republic signed an agreement with Saab-Scania of Sweden on January 25, 1980 to launch the SF-340, in what became the first fully collaborative venture between a US and European aviation manufacturer. Fairchild Republic was contracted to design and build its wings, engine nacelles, and vertical and horizontal tail surfaces, with final assembly occurring in Sweden.

Fairchild Swearingen was assigned North American marketing responsibility, while a jointly owned Swedish company, Saab-Fairchild HB, established an office in Paris to fulfill this function elsewhere.

Powered by twin turboprop engines, the aircraft accommodated 34 passengers in a four-abreast configuration with a central aisle.

After completing some 100 wing sets, however, Fairchild terminated its contract work on the regional airliner, withdrawing from all civil projects, and the aircraft was redesignated the Saab 340.

8. Changing Roles:

Passed the ownership torch on March 31, 1969, Republic Airport was thereinafter operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which continued to transform it into a public-use entity by acquiring 94 adjacent acres from the US government and purchasing an additional 115 privately owned ones to the south and southwest.

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority took title to Republic Airport as a first step in converting it into a general aviation (field),” according to the Long Island-Republic Airport Historical Society.

Initiating a modernization program, it made several improvements. High-intensity lights were installed on 5,516-foot Runway 1-19 and 6,827-foot Runway 14-32, for example, the latter of which was also equipped with an instrument landing system (ILS). The Fulton Truck Factory, the airport’s original structure dating from 1916, was razed, while Flightways transformed a ten-acre site on the north side of Route 109 into a complex of new hangars, administration buildings, fuel storage tanks, and aircraft tie-downs. A dual-level Administration, Terminal, and Maintenance building opened in 1983, not far from, and shortly before, the operational phase-in of a 100-foot, $2.2 million FAA control tower.

In order to promote economic development of the surrounding region, New York State legislature transferred ownership, for a third time, to the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) on April 1, 1983, which was advised by a nine-member Republic Airport Commission. It hardly curtailed the modernization momentum.

Indeed, eight years later, a $3.5 million, 25,600-square-foot Grumman Corporate Hangar, replacing the aircraft storage facility previously maintained at its now-closed Bethpage airfield and housing a Beechcraft King Air, a Gulfstream I, and two British Aerospace BAe-125-800s, opened.

In April of 1993, ground was broken for a $3.3 million, 20,000-square-foot SUNY Farmingdale Aerospace Education Center on the east side of Route 110.

Million Air, a subsidiary of Executive Air Support, constructed an 11,700-square-foot Executive Air Terminal and corporate hangar on the airport’s south end, and, by 2001, Air East commenced operations in its own, new, radiant-heated, 10,000-square-foot hangar, which also featured a 2,500-square-foot shop and 4,500-square-foot office and flight school. Yet another hangar-and-office complex, located in the Lambert area, opened its doors in June of 2005 when Talon Air, a charter company, began operations from it.

In order to provide increased clearance needed by the latest-generation of business jets, such as the Gulfstream V and the Bombardier Global Express, taxiway B (bravo) was relocated.

Indeed, more than $18 million in capital improvements were made since 2000 alone.

These enhancements, provisioning the airport for its new, general aviation role, had perhaps been a premonition of things to come.

In 1982, Fairchild Republic won a contract to build two new-generation Air Force T-46A training jets; but, the milestone, initially envisioned as a monetary lifeline, only provided the reverse effect: although the prototype was first rolled out three years later, it lacked some 1,200 parts, and although the second made a successful, 24-minute maiden flight in July of 1986, the contract for the program, fraught with controversy, was canceled, resulting in the layoffs of 500 employees.

Like so many companies dependent upon military contracts for survival, Fairchild Republic, without choice, ceased to exist the following year, leaving its sprouting factories and a legacy, which had begun six decades earlier. Ironically, the two names which had been the most instrumental in the airport’s beginning and growth-Fairchild and Republic-were the same two which had been involved in its demise. The doors of the Farmingdale airfield’s primarily-military aircraft manufacturing and testing chapter thus closed, and those to its general aviation one opened.

“With the company experiencing major financial problems in 1986-1987 and with the loss of support for the T-46A program in Congress, Fairchild terminated both the SF-340 and T-46A production after building only four aircraft,” according to Ken Neubeck and Leroy E. Douglas in Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale (p. 99). “Thus, by the fall of 1987, seventy years of airplane manufacturing in Farmingdale ended with employment and economic loss to the community and the New York metropolitan area.”

9. Airline Service:

In 1966, a year after ownership of Republic Airport was transferred from Fairchild Hiller to Farmingdale Corporation, it was officially designated a general aviation (civil) facility, fielding its first landing, of a twin-engine Beechcraft operated by Ramey Air Service from Islip, on December 7. In order to transform it into a gateway by facilitating airline connections at the three major New York airports, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority contracted with Air Spur to provide this feeder service four years later, assessing $12 one-way fares.

Although Republic was never envisioned as a major commercial airport, its central Long island location, proximity to the Route 110 corridor, and considerable infrastructure poised it for limited, scheduled and charter service to key business and leisure destinations within neighboring states. Yet its inherent operational limitation was succinctly stated in the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update.

“At Republic Airport,” it explained (Chapter 3, p. 8), “the New York State Department of Transportation implemented an aircraft weight limitation of 60,000 pounds in 1984. This weight limitation restricts the operation of aircraft over 60,000 pounds actual gross weight without the written consent of the airport operator.”

“Forecasts indicate that there will be an increase in the number of jet aircraft based at Republic Airport,” the Master Plan Update stated, “as well as an increase in jet operations,” as ultimately proven by annual pure-jet operation statistics: 2,792 in fiscal year 1986, 4,056 in 1990, 4,976 in 1995, and 6,916 in 1998. And, of its average annual number of based aircraft-about 500-this segment was also the fastest growing: 10 jet aircraft in 1985, 15 in 1995, and 20 in 1998. That number has since more than doubled.

One of the first scheduled airline attempts was made in 1978 when Cosmopolitan Airlines, operating an ex-Finnair Convair CV-340 and two ex-Swissair CV-440 Metropolitans in single-class, four-abreast, configurations, offered all-inclusive, single-day, scheduled charter packages to Atlantic City from its Cosmopolitan Sky Center. Its flyer had advised: “Fly to Atlantic City for only $19.95 net. Here’s how it works: Pay $44.95 for a round-trip flight ticket to Atlantic City, including ground transportation to and from the Claridge Hotel and Casino. Upon arrival at the Claridge, you’ll receive $20.00 in food and beverage credits good at any restaurant except the London Pavilion. You will also receive a $5.00 flight credit good for your next fight to the Claridge on Cosmopolitan Airlines.”

The carrier also briefly attempted to offer two daily scheduled round-trips to Boston on its 52-passenger CV-440s in 1980.

Facilitating this scheduled service growth was the construction of a passenger terminal.

“The terminal building, completed in 1983, has approximately 50,000 square feet of useable floor space and houses airport service vehicles, maintenance, fire protection, public terminal space, and rental areas on the first floor, plus administration offices on the second floor. Approximately 70 employees work in the building,” according to the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update (Chapter 1, p. 17).

Attempting to establish a link between Farmingdale and the major New York metropolitan airport of Newark International in order to feed its departures, PBA Provincetown Boston Airline commenced shuttle service with Cessna C-402 commuter aircraft, connecting Long Island by means of a 30-minute aerial hop with up to five daily round-trips and coordinating schedules with PEOPLExpress Airlines. It advertised avoidance of the excessive drive-times, parking costs, and longer check-in requirements otherwise associated with larger-airport usage, and offered the convenience of through-fares, ticketing, and baggage check to any PEOPLExpress final destination.

According to its June 20, 1986 Northern System timetable, it offered Farmingdale departures at 0700, 0950, 1200, 1445, and 1755.

Demand soon necessitated replacement of the C-402 with a larger, 19-seat Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante.

All of these brief, unsuccessful scheduled attempts, nullifying local residents’ ill-founded concern that Republic would ultimately develop into a major commercial airport and inflict its noise on close-proximity ears, failed to attract the needed traffic to render them self-supporting, emphasizing several airport-specific factors.

1). Republic was consistently associated with general, and not scheduled, operations during the latter part of its history.

2). Long Island MacArthur had already established itself as the island’s principle commercial facility, and carriers, as demonstrated by Precision/Northwest Airlink, gained no revenue advantage by diluting the same market, yet incurring increased airport and operational costs to do so.

“Republic Airport has had service by various commuter airlines and each has ceased service… ,” according to the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update. “The commuter service market area is limited, geographically, taking into account the larger airports, such as La Guardia, Kennedy, and MacArthur and the service they offer.”

“Since 1969, Republic Airport has accommodated the region’s need for an airport devoted to private and business aircraft, as well as charter and commuter operations,” it also stated (Chapter 1, p. 1). “Because Republic is situated in the midst of residential, commercial, and industrial development, its role is inconsistent with that of a scheduled air carrier airport for commercial jet transport.”

With the number of annual passengers having consistently increased-from 13,748 in 1985 and 30,564 in 1990 to 33,854 in 1995-its future commuter role could not be entirely ruled out.

“While past efforts by commuter airlines have not been successful, the potential for future service exists and is to be considered in the planning for the airport,” it concluded (Chapter 2, p. 10).

10. The Future:

Unlike Roosevelt and Glenn Curtiss fields, which succumbed to modern-era pressures and swapped their runways for shopping malls, 526-acre Republic only surrendered a small portion of itself to the Airport Plaza Shopping Center. Instrumental in early-aviation development and in the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, and Iraq wars, it transformed itself into a general aviation facility, peaking with 546-based aircraft and becoming the third-largest New York airport in terms of movements after JFK International and La Guardia.

Billing itself as “the corporate airbridge for Long Island’s 21st-century economy,” this westernmost Long Island general aviation facility accounts for 1,370 jobs and $139.6 million of economic activity, supporting 60 on-airport businesses. The 110,974 movements recorded in 2008 encompassed 52 by non-rigid airships, 7,120 by rotary wing, 76,236 by single-engine pistons, 6,310 by twin-engine pistons, 5,028 by turboprops, and 16,228 by pure-jets. The latter, its second-highest total, emphasizes its increasing role as the “Teterboro of Long Island,” perhaps pointing the way to its future. Indeed, companies considering the area for their corporate locations cite the airport as a major asset, since it provides close-proximity aerial access for personnel and materials.

Toward that end, the State of New York approved funding in April of 2009 for a Vision Planning process to collect data from residents, employees, businesses, and users, and then plot its future course. Specifically, the program had a three-fold purpose-namely, to define the airport’s role, to determine how it will fill that role, and, finally, to ascertain how it will work with the community to attain the desired operational and economic goals.

“As part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), Republic Airport is designated as a reliever airport with commercial service,” according to the 2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update (Chapter 1, p. 1). “Under ownership by the New York State Department of Transportation, there are specific state development and policy procedures which are followed.”

Although it may never eclipse its current general aviation role, its importance was not to be underestimated.

“”Republic Airport is an important regional asset,” it stated (Chapter 1, p. 1). “It provides significant transportation and economic benefits to both Suffolk and Nassau counties. The policy of the New York State Department of Transportation and the Republic Airport Commission shall be that Republic Airport continue to better serve Long Island.”

Whatever the future holds for it, it has a nine-decade foundation upon which to base it, as acknowledged by the plaque hung in the passenger terminal by the Long Island-Republic Airport Historical Society, “honor(ing) the tens of thousands of men and women who labored here in East Farmingdale, contributing significantly to aviation technology and aircraft production.” Those men and woman turned the wheels of the 11 aviation companies based there.

Sources

Long Island Republic Airport Historical Society website.

Neubeck, Ken, and Douglas, Leroy E. Airplane Manufacturing in Farmingdale. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2016.

2000 Republic Airport Master Plan Update, New York State Department of Transportation.

The Important Experience and Services of Airport Management Firms

Aviation system management is a complicated subject and often requires ground-level expertise and experience. Most of the fixed-base operators and MROs often look for specialized companies that can deal with the needs of aviation infrastructure management. To be very precise, airport management is a complicated and extremely dedicated field of work, and only a handful of companies around the world have the experience, capability, resources and manpower to deal with the metrics and different elements associated with the field. Here are some of the aspects you should know about.

Why hire specialized firms?

The prime reason for hiring an experienced airport management firm is to bring scalability and expertise to a project. The management principles in aviation need to be extremely focused and accountable, and most stakeholders and investors want to see results and meaningful metrics in a clear and concise way. Airport management services are planned around these concepts, blending the elements of profitability, service and safety with airport infrastructure. Of course, the quality and essence of management also reflects extensively on the overall brand equity and value.

Deciding on services

1. Stakeholders and investors need to understand the management style and experience of a company before considering it for aviation infrastructure operations. It is important that a service provider has deep experience in the industry, which is highly regulated and extremely specialized to mitigate risks. If you are a stakeholder or want to hire a service provider for fixed-base operation management, make sure that you check their work profile in detail.

2. Secondly, the management style is also extremely important. Most of the known and recognized airport management firms work in extreme balance, taking regular feedback from all of the airport’s stakeholders. Apart from the basic feedback from customers and direct passengers, the company would take inputs and views of the relevant parties, such as airport vendors and sponsors. This may also include operational reviews, which are usually completed by comparing the benchmarks of the industry along with varied types of proprietary metrics that are relevant to the specific area of management.

3. Of course, airport management is an extensive field, so you need to know a service providing company’s capabilities. This can be anything from airport FBO, MRO and ACM management and operations, to facility management, capital project management services, operational audits, and custom managerial reporting packages. Some companies also deal with property, corporate and franchise training, which is important for many parties involved with the services, while specialized cost containment programs may also be offered for reducing operational expense. Some companies also have special preventative maintenance programs, which are intended to smooth maintenance and repair costs over time.

Depending on the needs of the stakeholders, the services of airport management can differ and can be customized to meet the airport sponsor’s management goals. Carefully diligence the experience and management of the company before taking the final decision. At the end of the day, airport management extends beyond just operations and requires more hands-on experience than regular management projects.

The Commuter Airlines of Long Island MacArthur Airport

Introduction:

Although commuter airline operations, conducted by a variety of almost-exclusively turboprop aircraft that accommodated between 19 and 50 passengers,augmented Long Island MacArthur Airport’s six-and-a-half decade scheduled service history, they were integral to its development as a regional airfield, providing both origin-and-destination and connecting, major-carrier aligned, two-letter code share links to many northeast cities with equipment optimized for sector length, demand, capacity, frequency, and cost.

These services can be subdivided into “Initial Service,” “Area-Airport Shuttles,” “Northeast Commuter Service,” “Code-Share Hub Feed,” and “Last Commuter Carrier Operation” categories.

Initial Service:

Initial, scheduled service, inaugurated shortly after the airport’s 5,000-square-foot, rectangular-shaped terminal was completed, entailed a tri-city route system, connecting Long Island with Boston, Newark, and Washington, and operated in 1959 by Gateway Airlines with de Havilland DH.104 Dove and DH.114 Heron aircraft.

The former, a conventional low-wing monoplane with a 57-foot span and two de Havilland Gipsy Queen 70 Mk 3 six-cylinder, air-cooled, in-line piston engines rated at 400 hp, was designed to meet the Brabazon Committee’s Type VB specifications for a post-war mini- or commuter-airliners, but nevertheless incorporated several “large aircraft” advancements, including all-metal Redux bonding construction, geared and supercharged powerplants, braking propellers, power operated trailing edge flaps, and a tricycle undercarriage configuration.

Resembling it, its DH.114 Heron successor, seating between 14 and 17 in an 8.6-foot longer cabin, was powered by four 250-hp Gipsy Queen 30 Mk 2 piston engines and had a 13,500-pound gross weight, whose lift was facilitated by a 71.6-foot wingspan. It first flew in prototype form on May 10, 1950.

Inauspicious and short-lived, the Gateway Airlines flights, only lasting eight months, nevertheless served as the aerial threshold to Long Island MacArthur’s future northeast commuter operations.

Area-Airport Shuttles:

While Gateway’s Newark service paved the way to other, similar area-airport shuttles, it demonstrated that if Long Island MacArthur could not offer further-afield service on its own, it could provide quick-hop connections to other, more established New York airports that could.

One such attempt, although a little longer in duration, occurred between 1979 and 1980 with Nitlyn Airways, whose Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains tried to feed TWA’s flights at JFK.

Intended as a successor to the company’s PA-23-250 twin piston private and executive Aztec, the Navajo had a 34.6-foot length and 40.8-foot span. Powered by two 425-hp Lycoming TIGO-541-E1A six-cylinder, horizontally opposed engines, it had a 7,800-pound gross weight and 1,285-mile range, and could be configured with various standard, commuter, and business seating arrangements for up to eight, who boarded by means of an aft, left air stair door.

Much later in MacArthur’s history, another carrier, enjoying greater longevity and success, linked the Long Island airfield with Newark International Airport. In this case, the airline was Brit, which operated under a Continental Express code-share agreement for the purpose of feeding Continental’s mainline flights and the equipment encompassed the very modern ATR-42-300.

This design, which has yet to be usurped by a more advanced turboprop in 2020, remains one of the two premier regional airliners.

Following the latest intra-European cooperation trend, the French Aerospatiale and Italian Aeritalia aerospace firms elected to collaborate on a regional airliner that combined design elements of their respective, once-independent AS-35 and AIT-230 proposals.

Redesignated ATR-42-the letters representing the French “Avions de Transport Regional” and “Aerei di Trasporto Regionale” and the number reflecting the average seating capacity-the high-wing, twin-turboprop, not-quite-t-tail with its main undercarriage bogies retracting into fuselage underside blisters, was powered by two 1,800-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PW120 engines when it first flew as the ATR-42-200 on August 16, 1984. The production version, the ATR-42-300, featured uprated, 2,000-shp powerplants.

Of modern airliner design, it accommodated up to 49 four-abreast passengers with a central aisle, overhead storage compartments, a flat ceiling, a galley, and a lavatory.

Granted its French and Italian airworthiness certificate in September of 1985 after final assembly in Toulouse, France, it entered scheduled service four months later on December 9 with Air Littoral. With a 37,300-pound maximum takeoff weight, it had a 265-knot maximum speed at a 25,000-foot service ceiling.

Northeast Commuter Service:

Although Gateway Airlines was the first to provide northeast commuter service from the then-fledgling airport in Islip, many carriers followed in the ensuing decades-this time from the new oval passenger terminal that replaced the original rectangular one.

One of the early ones was Pilgrim Airlines, which operated two nonstops to Albany, one to Groton/New London, two to New Haven, and a single frequency to Washington-National, principally with de Havilland of Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.

Incorporating the rugged simplicity of its predecessor, the single-engine DHC-3 Otter, designed for remote, unprepared field operations often in the bush, it retained its basic high wing configuration and many of its wing and fuselage components, but introduced double the number of powerplants. Featuring a greater, 51.9-foot overall length to facilitate the installation of up to 20 seats divided by an aisle, a 65-foot span with double-slotted trailing edge flaps, and a redesigned nose and tail, it still employed the Otter’s fixed, tricycle undercarriage and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability.

Powered by two 652-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines, it first flew on May 20, 1965. Its three versions included the DHC-6-200 with a longer nose for increased baggage space, and the DHC-6-300, which had a 210-mph maximum speed and 12,500-pound gross weight.

Other than the Fokker F.27 Friendship, the DHC-6 Twin Otter became Pilgrim’s workhorse, making the 20-minute hop across Long Island Sound from Islip to New Haven. On the December 1, 1985 cover of its system timetable, it advertised, “New nonstops to Washington and New Haven.”

Connecticut competition from NewAir, which was originally designated New Haven Airways, offered identical service. Based at Tweed New Haven Airport, it advertised itself as “Connecticut’s Airline Connection,” but utilized low-wing, equally-sized Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante commuter aircraft.

Named after the Brazilians who explored and colonized the western portion of the country in the 17th century, the conventional design, with two three-bladed turboprops and a retractable tricycle undercarriage, accommodated between 15 and 18 passengers. It was the first South American commercial aircraft to have been ordered by European and US carriers.

Originally sporting circular passenger windows and powered by PT6A-20 engines, it entailed a three-prototype certification program, each aircraft respectively first taking to the air on October 28, 1968, October 19, 1969, and June 26, 1970. Although initially designated the C-95 when launch-ordered by the Brazilian Air Force (for 60 of the type), the EMB-110 was certified two years later on August 9.

Powered by PT6A-27 engines, production aircraft featured square passenger windows, a 50.3-foot wingspan, a forward, left air stair door, and redesigned nacelles so that the main undercarriage units could be fully enclosed in the retracted position.

Designated EMB-110C and accommodating 15, the type entered scheduled service with Transbrasil on April 16, 1973 and it was integral in filling its and VASP’s feederline needs.

Six rows of three-abreast seats with an offset aisle and 12,345-pound gross weights characterized the third level/commuter EMB-110P version, while the longer fuselage EMB-110P2, first ordered by French commuter carrier Air Littoral, was powered by uprated, 750-shp PT6A-34s and offered seating for 21.

According to NewAir’s September 1, 1983 timetable, it served the eight destinations of Baltimore, Islip, New Haven, New London, Newark, New York-La Guardia, Philadelphia, and Washington-National. From Long Island MacArthur itself, it offered two daily departures to Baltimore, two to New Haven, and one to New London.

Air service was also offered to neighboring state Rhode Island by Newport State Airport based National Air. “All flights are operated with 22-passenger CASA C-212-200 aircraft, providing National Air’s passengers with widebody, stand-up headroom comfort,” it advertized. “In-flight service (beverage only) is provided on all flights by courteous flight attendants.”

Designed by Construcciones Aeronautics SA (CASA) as a multi-role transport for the Spanish Air Force, the high-wing, dual-engine, fixed tricycle undercarriage design sported porthole-shaped passenger windows, a dorsal fin, and a rear loading ramp that led to the uninterrupted, box-shaped cabin. Its civil application was nevertheless considered from design inception.

Intended as a replacement for the Spanish Air Force’s now antiquated Junkers Ju.52/3ms, Douglas DC-3s, and CASA 207 Azors, it was powered by two 776-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331 turboprops. Two prototypes, first flying on March 26 and October 23 of 1971, preceded the first production example, which took to the sky a year later on November 17.

In military guise, it was operated as a paratrooper, an air ambulance, a freighter, a crew trainer, and a photo surveyor, while its commercial counterpart, the C-212C, accommodated 19 passengers.

The C-212-200, with a 44.9-foot overall length, 62.4-foot wingspan, 900-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331-10-501C engines, a 219-mph cruise speed, a 28,000-foot service ceiling, and a 16,093-pound gross weight, had a 470-mile range with its maximum fuel.

By the end of 1981, 292 civil and military Aviocars had been in operation in 27 countries.

From Islip, National Air operated three daily departures to Newport to the east with continuing service to Providence and Boston and three to New York-JFK in the west. Philadelphia was the only other destination in its minuscule route system at this time. Passenger check-in, like that of NewAir, took place at the Pilgrim Airlines ticket counter.

Another New England-served state from Islip was Vermont by appropriately named Air Vermont.

Based in Morrisville and established in 1981, it served 13 northeast cities,according to its October 1, 1983 timetable: Albany, Berlin (New Hampshire), Boston, Burlington, Hartford, Long Island, Nantucket, Newport (Vermont), New York-JFK, Portland, Washington-National, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Worcester. It also used the now-crowded Pilgrim Airlines facilities.

Its fleet consisted of Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains and Beech C99s.

The latter, perhaps its “flagship,” was a development of the Queen Air business/executive aircraft, whose capacity was insufficient for commuter routes. Subjected to a fuselage stretch in 1965, which gave it a new, 44.7-foot overall length, it was now able to accommodate 15 passengers arranged in single seats on either side of a central aisle. It featured an aft, left air stair door.

Powered by two 715-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines, yet resembling its Queen Air predecessor with its low wing, conventional tail, and retractable tricycle undercarriage, it received its FAA type approval on May 2, 1968. With a 10,900-pound gross weight and 283-mph maximum cruise speed, it had between a 530- and 838-mile range, depending upon payload-to-fuel ratios.

Commuter Airlines of Chicago inaugurated it into service. Although 164 B99s and B99As were produced, the C99, with a 44-cubic-foot eternal, under-fuselage pannier, provided a needed addition to the otherwise standard forward and aft baggage compartments. The latter, which marked the resumption of the type’s production in 1979, had uprated, 715-shp PT6A-36 engines and a 285-knot maximum speed at 8,000 feet. It first flew on June 20 of the following year.

National Air offered three daily nonstops to Newport with the aircraft departing at 0935, 1345, and 1850. All continued on to Albany and Burlington.

There were several other commuter carriers, which, like actors, both periodically and temporarily appeared on the MacArthur stage to collect passengers and transport them to northeastern destinations with an eye toward making a profit. Many did not.

Albany-based Mall Airways, for instance, in existence between 1973 and 1989, served 18 destinations in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia, along with operating trans-border sectors to Ontario and Quebec in Canada, although hardly all from Islip. A heavy New York state route concentration had it touch down in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Islip, Ithaca, New York-La Guardia, Rochester, Syracuse, and White Plains with a fleet of Piper Navajo Chieftains, Beech King Air 90s, B99s, and B1900Cs.

The latter, a stretched version of the Super King Air (which in high-density commuter configuration could carry 13), retained the same low wing mounting and t-tail, but its longer, 25.3-foot cabin, with a 425 cubic-foot volume, accommodated 19 with a central aisle. Intended for multiple-stop commuter routes, it was powered by two wing-mounted Pratt and Whitney Canada 1,100-shp PT6A-65B engines and could operate from grass and unprepared fields. First flying on September 3, 1982, it was certified the following year on November 22.

The more capacious B1900D, only the second 19-seater to offer standup headroom after the British Aerospace Jetstream 31, introduced a higher ceiling, greater internal volume, more powerful engines, modified propellers, winglets, a larger tail, and an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) cockpit.

Another New York State-based, Long Island MacArthur operator, reflected by its very name, was Empire Airlines and it flew, at least initially, B1900C-resembling equipment-in this case, the Swearingen Metro.

Founded in 1976 by Paul Quackenbush, it inaugurated service from Utica/Rome’s Oneida Country Airport, often to small cities that had been abandoned by Allegheny Airlines, and eventually touched down in the ten states of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, and the two Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Mirroring the now Allegheny absorbed route system of Mohawk Airlines, the “Empire State” carrier served Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Islip, Ithaca, New York-JFK, New York-La Guardia, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, White Plains, and Utica/Roma.

Although it operated 13 Fokker F.28-4000 Fellowship pure-jets between 1980 and 1986, six Metro IIs formed the backbone of its earlier turboprop fleet.

Itself a stretch of the six- to eight-passenger Swearingen Merlin IIIA executive aircraft, it introduced a longer fuselage, increasing its length to 59.4 feet from the Merlin’s 42.2 for accommodation of up to 22, but retained its engines, wing, and tail surfaces. Designed by Ed Swearingen for commuter operations, it first flew on June 11, 1970, designated SA-226TC.

Swearingen itself became a subsidiary of Fairchild Industries in November of 1971, resulting in the type’s San Antonio, Texas, final assembly.

Air Wisconsin became the first major customer.

The upgraded Metro II, powered by 940-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331-3U-303G engines and introduced in 1971, replaced the original oval passenger windows with square ones, had a 43.3-foot wingspan, a 12,500-pound gross weight, and could cruise at 294 mph.

Empire operated three daily Metro flights to its Syracuse hub, departing at 0905, 1525, and 1830 and facilitating connections to Albany, Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca, Montreal, Rochester, and Utica/Rome. According to its April 1, 1985 system timetable, “Flights 1 through 99 are operated with 85-passenger Fokker F.28 jets. Flights 100 through 999 are operated with 19-passenger Swearingen Metro II jetprops.”

After Empire was acquired by Piedmont Airlines in 1985, its Syracuse hub joined Piedmont’s own-that is, those in Baltimore, Charlotte, and Dayton.

Northeast carriers often made their imprints on the Long Island air field, fleeting though they were. Late to the scene, Windsor Locks, Connecticut-based Shuttle America, a low-fare, de Havilland of Canada DHC-8-300 operator, inaugurated service between Hartford and Buffalo, but soon touched down in Albany, Boston (in Hanscom Field), Greensboro, Islip (as of November 13, 1998), New York-La Guardia, Norfolk, Trenton, and Wilmington with its half-dozen aircraft.

Boston became the battleground for several independent commuter airlines. One of the largest carriers to connect Long Island with it was Ransome Airlines.

Founded by J. Dawson Ransome in 1967 and based at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, it commenced service that March with 11-passenger Beechcraft 18s, progressively expanding into a significantly sized regional carrier with a northeast route system. It operated both independently and aligned with major airlines for two-letter code-share feed, specifically as Allegheny Commuter, the Delta Connection, and finally Pan Am Express. It operated for 28 years.

Two aircraft were integral to its expansion.

The first of these was the Nord 262. Initially envisioned as a development of the dual-engine MH-260 Broussard, which had first flown on July 29, 1960 and which subsequently became the responsibility of state-owned Nord Aviation, it was modified with a pressurized, circular fuselage to permit three-abreast seating for 24, first flying in prototype form as the redesignated Nord 262 two years later on December 24, then powered by two 1,080-shp Bastan VIB2 turboprops. Three pre-production and a single production example, visibly distinguishable by its dorsal fin, ultimately partook of the flight test program.

Sporting a 63.3-foot length, a 71-foot span of its high wing, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage, it had a 23,370-pound gross weight and could cruise at up to 233 mph.

Lake Central Airlines, US launch customer with an order for 12, inaugurated the type into service in May of 1965, and the aircraft was transferred to Allegheny three years later upon Lake Central’s acquisition. They were subsequently operated by the Allegheny Commuter consortium.

Because its French powerplants hindered further US sales, it was retrofitted with five-bladed, 1,180-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-45As and updated systems, and redesignated the Mohawk M-298 to reflect the FAR 298 airworthiness regulations that governed its operation.

First flying on January 7, 1975, it entered service two years later with Allegheny Commuter, of which Ransome was a member.

The other major type in its fleet, perhaps then considered the “granddaddy” of the early commuter turboprops, was the de Havilland of Canada DHC-7.

Resembling, in overall configuration, the DHC-6 Twin Otter, it featured an 80.8-foot overall length; a high, straight wing with a 93-foot span; four 1,120-shp PT6A-50 turboprop engines; a sizeable dorsal fin; a t-tail; a retractable tricycle undercarriage; and accommodation of 54 four-abreast passengers in a wide-look cabin with a galley and a lavatory.

Intended for short takeoff and landing operations from fields as short as 2,000 feet-and, in fact, was able to operate from the runway stubs at Washington National Airport without requiring a specific landing slot-it generated high lift by means of the five-bladed, slow-turning propellers, that bathed the airfoils’ upper surface and eliminated the need for leading edge devices. Aside from reducing external and internal cabin noise levels, it facilitated steep, controlled approaches.

Construction of two prototypes, preceded by Canadian government financial backing, commenced in 1972, and they first flew three years later on March 27 and June 26. The first production version, intended for launch customer Rocky Mountain airways, first took to the sky on May 30, 1977.

With an 11,350-pound payload and a 44,000-pound maximum takeoff weight, it had ranges between 840 and 1,335 miles, the latter with its full fuel uplift.

Ransome came as close as any other airline to establishing a mini-commuter carrier hub at Long Island MacArthur Airport with 23 daily M-298 and DHC-7-100 weekday nonstops, including three to Baltimore, six to Boston, two to Hartford, one to Newark, six to Philadelphia, and five to Providence.

In its October 31, 1982 system timetable, it proclaimed, “Rely on Ransome Airlines, American’s most experienced regional airline.”

Another, albeit much smaller, commuter carrier that provided Boston service was Precision Airlines. Based at Springfield State Airport in Springfield, Vermont, it operated Dornier Do-228-200s.

Very loosely based upon the Do-28D-2 Skyservant, a 12-passenger utility airplane, it equally sported a high-mounted “TNT Tragfluegels neuer Technologie” or “new technology wing,” consisting of a Dornier A-5 airfoil section with swept tips.

Powered by two 715-shp Garrett AiResearch TPE331-5 engines, it had a 54.3-foot length and a 55.7-foot span. Retracting its undercarriage main bogies into under-fuselage fairings, it had a 12,570-pound gross weight, 268-mph maximum cruising speed at 10,000 feet, and 715-mile, full-payload range.

Its two versions, the 15-passenger Do-228-100 and the 19-passenger Do-228-200, respectively first flew on March 28 and May 9, 1981.

According to Precision’s November 15, 1983 timetable, it offered three daily nonstops to Philadelphia and three to Boston from Islip, the latter continuing to Manchester, New Hampshire.

Another Boston service provider was Business Express Airlines.

Founded in 1982 as Atlantic Air, but stressing its business-oriented route system in its subsequently changed name, it expanded by acquiring some of the carriers that had independently served Islip, including Pilgrim Airlines in 1986 (which itself had already taken over NewAir); Mall Airways in 1989, which gave it access to the Canadian cities of Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa; and Brockway Air, also in 1989, which provisioned it with a fleet of B1900Cs and Saab 340s. The latter became its MacArthur (and northeast) workhorse.

As the first collaborative US-European design, it was jointly produced by Fairchild Corporation’s Swearingen subsidiary, which already had commuter airliner experience, and Swedish manufacturer Saab AB, which did not, traditionally having focused on the military sector, such as with its JAS-39 Gripen mufti-role combat design.

Turning its attention to a commercial application for the first time, Saab began design studies for a 30-passenger commuter turboprop. Because of the scope of the project, which would have been the largest industrial venture in Sweden, it sought a risk sharing partner, which, in the event, appeared as Fairchild. It would produce the wings, engine nacelles, and tail, while Saab itself would manufacture the fuselage and fin, and assume 75 percent of the program’s development, systems integration, and certification aspects.

Designated SF-340 (for “Saab-Fairchild”), the resultant aircraft, an aerodynamically clean, low-wing monoplane with a high aspect ratio airfoil and large-span single-slotted flaps, two 1,870-shp General Electric CT79B engines, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage, accommodated 34 passengers at a 30-inch seat pitch with an offset aisle, enclosed overhead storage compartments, a galley, a lavatory, and a forward, left air stair.

Featuring a 64.9-foot length and a 70.4-foot span, the aircraft had a 7,500-pound payload and 29,000-pound maximum takeoff weight capability. Typical initial block hour fuel consumption was 1,015 pounds out of the 5,690-pound total.

Redesignated Saab 340 after Fairchild withdrew from the program, with 40 airframes having been built, Saab became the sole manufacturer of it.

The Saab 340B, succeeding the basic 340A, introduced more powerful engines, an increased horizontal stabilizer span, higher weights, and greater range. The 340B Plus offered active noise and vibration control.

Business Express flew 23 S-340As and 20 S-340Bs. After the carrier was purchased by AMR Eagle Holding Corporation and became American Eagle on December 1, 2000, it continued to operate its half-dozen nonstops from Islip to Boston in the new carrier’s livery, although it ceased to independently exist itself.

As perhaps a smaller reflection of Business Express, CommutAir also offered Long Island-Boston service. Founded in 1989 and eventually serving 22 northeast destinations with 30 19-passenger B1900Ds, it dispatched three weekday departures to Boston, with the balance of its eight flights calling at Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

Having operated as a US Airways Express and Continental Connection carrier, it surrendered its Boston frequencies to Colgan Air in time.

Code-Share Hub Feed Service:

Although several airlines inaugurated Islip service as independent operators, such as Ransome, Precision, Business Express, and CommutAir, they ultimately continued under two-letter code share agreements with major airlines from the Delta Connection to Northwest Airlink. Some inceptionally operated in this guise.

One of them was the Allegheny Commmuter consortium. “USAir and Allegheny Commuter-a great team to go with,” the carrier proclaimed in its advertising. “Service to over 120 cities in the US and Canada. All flights C500 through C1999 (listed in its system timetable) are approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board. These flights are operated with Beech 99, de Havilland Twin Otter, de Havilland Dash 7, Nord 262, M-298, Shorts 330, CASA-212, and Swearingen Metro equipment.”

Aside from Ransome, Suburban Airlines was a significant member of the consortium, initially operating Shorts 330 and later Shorts 360 aircraft.

Based upon the early-1960’s Skyvan, the former can trace some of its design elements to it. Characterized by a box-section fuselage for straight-in rear loading, a stubby, high-mounted wing, twin vertical tails, and a fixed tricycle undercarriage, it could carry up to 19 passengers or 4,000 pounds of cargo.

While the longer, sleeker Shorts 330 retained the Skyvan’s outer wing panels, it introduced a new center section, five-bladed PT6A-45 engines that replaced the previous Garrett AiResearch ones, a retractable landing gear, and a 30-seat, three-abreast interior with enclosed overhead storage compartments.

Launched after receiving UK government funding, the initially designated SD3-30 first flew on August 22, 1974 and was ordered by launch customer Command Airways in the US and Time Air in Canada.

The series 200, succeeding the 100, offered a 22,900-pound gross weight attained with more powerful, 1,020-shp PT6A-45R powerplants.

The Shorts 360, the ultimate development of the Skyvan and 330 lineage, had a three-foot forward fuselage plug, increasing its length from 58 to 70.6 feet, a tapered aft section with revised contours, a single vertical tail, enhanced cruise performance, and the addition of two seat rows, increasing capacity from 30 to 36.

First flying on June 1, 1981, it had a 25,700-pound gross weight and 243-mph high-speed cruise capability at 10,000 feet. Suburban Airlines was the launch customer.

Its ten-point route system encompassed Allentown, Binghamton, Buffalo, Lancaster, Long Island, New London/Groton, Newark, New York-JFK, Philadelphia, and Reading. In-flight service consisted of miniature trays of cheddar cheese spread, breadsticks, chips, and a beverage selection from the cart.

Its November 1, 1985 timetable listed four weekday nonstops to Boston and five to Philadelphia from Islip.

Another early-if not the first-commuter-main carrier cooperation was that between Henson and Allegheny Commuter.

Formed in 1961 by Richard A. Henson as Henson Aviation, a fixed base operator in Hagerstown, Maryland, it inaugurated a scheduled route to Washington the following year under the “Hagerstown Commuter” name. Inaugurating two-letter code share service as an Allegheny Commuter carrier five years later, it operated 15-passenger Beech 99s.

Headquartered in Salisbury, Maryland, in 1968, it maintained a tri-point route system, encompassing Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington and introduced cabin attendant service with the acquisition of Shorts 330 aircraft, succeeding it with de Havilland of Canada DHC-8-100s.

Resembling its DHC-7 predecessor, but sporting two instead of four powerplants, the 37-passenger Dash 8 was powered by 1,800-shp PW120s and their elongated nacelles provided stowage for the aircraft’s rearward retracting main undercarriage struts. With a 73-foot length and an 84.11-foot wingspan, whose center section was rectangular, but whose outboard sections featured taper and dihedral, it had a 34,500-pound gross weight and 310-mph speed.

Registered C-GDNK, it first flew in prototype form on June 20, 1983 and was delivered to launch customer NorOntair on October 23 of the following year.

Before operating its own DHC-8-100s, Henson, which had been rebranded “Henson, The Piedmont Regional Airline” after Piedmont’s agreement with it, fielded two daily B99s (flights 1710 and 1719) and three daily Shorts 330s (flights 1502, 1528, and 1539) to Piedmont’s Baltimore hub, with connections to Charlottesville, Hagerstown, Newport News, Norfolk, Ocean City, Richmond, Roanoke, Salisbury, Shenandoah Valley, and Washington-National, according to its January 15, 1984 timetable.

Another major carrier-aligned regional, operating aircraft in its major’s livery, using its two-letter code, and partaking of a joint marketing agreement for the purposes of hub feed, was Atlantic Coast, which assumed the profile of United Express.

The agreement, concluded on December 15, 1989, ensured secondary city funneling into United’s Chicago-O’Hare and Washington-Dulles hubs with several commuter aircraft-the Jetstream 31, the Jetstream 41, the DHC-8, and the EMB-120 among them. It was the latter type that it operated into Islip.

Building upon the foundation created by the EMB-110 Bandeirante, the EMB-120, a low-wing, circular-fuselage, t-tail design optimized for 30 three-abreast passengers, was hatched from Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica S. A.’s Sao Jose dos Campos facility in Sao Paulo. Powered by two 1,800-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PW118 or -118A engines, it had a maximum, 298-knot speed and a 30,000-foot service ceiling.

Ideal for commuter sectors, it attracted considerable US sales, including 62 from ASA Atlantic Southeast Airlines, 40 from Comair, 70 from SkyWest, 35 from WestAir, and 34 from Texas Air.

Atlantic Coast’s October 31, 1990 timetable stated, “The following carrier has a cooperative agreement with United, offering expanded destinations, coordinated schedules, and the same travel service featured on United. Applicable carrier and United flight range: Atlantic Coast/United Express: Flight numbers UA3570-UA3739.”

Its four daily flights to Washington-Dulles departed at 0645, 1200, 1450, and 1800.

Although not offering much major carrier feed, another code share operator from Long Island MacArthur was Metro Air Northeast, which assumed the identify of TWExpress, dispatching five daily nonstops with Saab 340 aircraft at 0630, 0915, 1250, 1605, and 1825 to Albany with “7000” flight numbers. The first departure, for instance, was TW 7941.

Its December 1, 1990 timetable advertised, “The shortest distance between you and TWA” and “Your commuter connection to TWA.”

Last Commuter Carrier Operation:

Change, the result of market conditions, was the only constant. But as fuel and operational costs increased, the number of daily commuter flights and the mostly northeast cities they served decreased. Consequently, as the airline players disappeared, so, too, did the passengers.

Like a ghost town of commuter operations whose only propeller sounds were those in the minds of the passengers who remembered them, Long Island MacArthur Airport became the stage for a final attempt at restoring them in the guise of Alaska-based PenAir.

Taking advantage of the FAA’s Air Carrier Incentive Plan, which entailed reduced fees to entice new entrants to begin flights in underserved markets, it replaced the Boston service vacated by American Eagle in 2008 by inaugurating two daily Saab 340 departures, at 0840 and 1910, with one-way, $119 introductory fares, citing Islip a logical extension to its three-point route system of Bar Harbor, Presque Isle, and Plattsburgh. Yet logic did not always equal profitability and after a valiant year’s effort, the carrier was left without choice but to discontinue the service due to low load factors.

After the multitude of commuter airlines had opened the passenger floodgates at Long Island MacArthur Airport during a more than five-decade period, PenAir closed them. At the dawn of 2020, there was not a single propeller providing scheduled service to be heard.

Critical Airport Lease Areas for Aviation Service Providers

It may sound simple, but understanding (and managing to) the specifics of your airport lease is critical for the airport service provider. Whether you are a Fixed Base Operator (FBO), Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) company or an Aircraft Charter and Management (ACM) company, if you provide direct on-airport service your lease is your not only your life blood and access to your customer base, but it is also a big component of your company’s value.

Aviation service providers generally work under lease directly from the airport itself. Most leases are long term in order to afford the tenant (the aviation FBO, MRO or ACM company) the ability to achieve a return on the investment they must make to establish their business. Leases usually also confer the operating rights and restrictions under which the service provider must operate. Because they have long lives, however, and are not referred to often in the day-to-day provision of airport services, the opportunity for confusion arises and mistakes can compound for months or years until discovered and corrected. There are numerous examples of rent disputes that arose from a misunderstanding of the rent calculation only to compound for years until finally reconciled, many times with the service provider taking a material charge to their profit and loss statement.

1. Rent Calculations. Obviously, most airport tenants are deeply aware of the amount of rent they pay to the airport on a monthly basis, either for ground rent or facilities. Unlike a typical office or other facility lease, however, an airport lease may require additional variable rent payments based upon activities. There are many types and structures but common types of variable rent are fuel flowage fees, a variable rent as a percentage of gross sales, additional rent in the form of recoupment from tenants of fees and taxes an airport incurs, etc. Since these are variable they are typically paid monthly by the tenant but only reconciled annually. Because FBOs typically have the most different lines of businesses, they are especially inclined to have additional variable rent structures. Diligent management and clear communication with the airport (as well as mutually agreed upon reporting tools) are best practices for preventing an unintended consequence from building up on either side of the ledger.

2. Operating Rights & Restrictions. Airport leases typically clearly state which activities a tenant may conduct (or is required to conduct) and activities from which they are prohibited. These categories vary however, from very narrow to quite broad depending upon the intent of the airport; e.g. is the airport trying to tightly manage scarce resources or is it attempting to broadly stimulate growth and employment on the airport. In the modern hurried environment it is easy to contemplate adding a new service or product line without first determining whether that service or product is specifically allowed or prohibited under your current lease. You should always clearly understand your contractual rights and restrictions before making a commitment to a material outlay of resources, especially in the areas of time, personnel and capital.

3. Maintenance & Repair. The maintenance and repair responsibility for your facilities will largely depend on who constructed them and who now holds title to them. In some cases the facilities will be let “where is, as is” and the tenant will be responsible for all maintenance and repair. Other times there are specific levels of maintenance the airport landlord may provide (e.g. “structural”) and the tenant will be responsible for others that do not rise to this level. Open communication with the airport is again the best tool for understanding who is going to pay for the next large repair issue.

4. Lease Premises. Similar to rent, above, this appears straightforward and usually is. An older lease which has been subject to multiple amendments and assignments through multiple owners, however, may be tricky. If you purchased the lease as part of a larger aviation services business and bought title insurance at that time you should have assurance as to the exact location, size and characteristics of the leasehold. If you acquired the lease through other means such as a Request For Proposals process, you should examine the description of the premises in the lease and ensure it is consistent with your understanding and current aviation operations and activity. If there is doubt or ambiguity as to what and where the actual leasehold is, you should seek help understanding exactly what your rights are respective to the leasehold.

5. Transfer and Change of Control. This is another area which can materially affect the value of an aviation service provider’s business. Most leases require a landlord’s (airport’s) consent to transfer a lease (as an asset) via an assignment (although it is common to have exceptions for transfers to entities that are subsidiaries or controlled by the current tenant). A change of control, which occurs when a tenant conveys more than 50% of the underlying interests of the business to another individual or entity, usually also requires a similar consent. This language varies from lease to lease of course and is less common in older leases. You should review this language in your lease and determine the consequences before you begin planning to sell your business as it may have a material impact on your sale process, especially if you are selling only a part of an airport based service business. There are different strategies to use in dealing with these types of provisions, however, and the best practice is to structure your business or sale process taking these provisions into account and aligning the structure of the process to meet your end goals.

Airport leases for Fixed Base Operators (FBOs), Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) companies and Aircraft Charter and Management (ACM) Companies have evolved and become more complex, especially at larger airports, and the aviation infrastructure required to perform these services continues to become more expensive. To maximize your return as an operator, you have to have a complete understanding of one of your most important governing documents, your airport lease.