Cobb County International Airport shows off improvements at networking event

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Cobb County International Airport hosted a networking and static jet display event Wednesday.

Karl Von Hagel, airport manager, said the event was a way of showing off recent improvements to the airport and having aircraft brought in by manufacturers to be viewed. “It’s like a car show for aircraft,” Von Hagel said.

Improvements to the airport include the addition of a U.S. customs facility in June 2015, a new air traffic control tower in March 2015 and a 6,300-foot runway. The runway is the longest general aviation runway in metro Atlanta.

Ninety percent of the funds for the improvements came from the Federal Aviation Administration, 5 percent from state funds and 5 percent from airport funds, according to Von Hagel.

Clark Hungerford, who serves on the 11-member Airport Advisory Board, said “all in all, (the improvements) are a good investment.”

With the new Braves stadium and new businesses in the Cobb Galleria, Hungerford noted that more people can fly into the airport for business.

The airport was in conjunction with the Georgia Business Aviation Association to plan the event.

David Small, past president of GBAA, a nonprofit organization that promotes business aviation, said GBAA sees the summer networking series as a good place to get dialog and feedback. This is the first event of the year, but Small said they plan to have five or six more in addition to their big fundraising event in May.

Another partner at the event was Hawthorne Global Aviation Services, which joined the Cobb airport in July 2014. The company leases from Cobb airport as an aviation services company dealing directly with aircraft management.

David Kucko, general manager of Hawthorne Global at the Cobb location, said that with the recent improvements, “the whole year has been good.”

Hawthorn Global paid for the customs building at the airport and they continue to pay for its business. “We are doing what we can to up the ability for international flights in and out of here,” Kucko said.

Cobb County airport is the only metro-Atlanta general aviation airport to offer an on-site U.S Customs facility.

The airport was required to construct a customs building to minimum requirements and hire a Customs Border Protection employee for 40 hours a week to staff the building. The building has a waiting area, inspection and search capabilities, an interview room and a jail holding cell. Additionally, it’s equipped with blast-proof windows and a quarantine section.

“We are very proud of our U.S. Customs Facility and we worked very hard with CBP to assure that our facility met or exceeded the minimum standards required by CBP for international inspections facilities before we allowed the arrival of any international flights into Cobb County,” Von Hagel said.

Other local airports, such as Fulton County, still allow for an employee from CBP to come directly to the tarmac from Hartsfield Jackson Airport to check the people entering the country. Even with the new rule stated by U.S. CBP that airports adding a customs facility must include a building that meet minimum requirements and features, airports such as Fulton County and Dekalb County have not had to change their system.

However, for Cobb airport, the addition of the facility “brings in a lot of business to the airport and the area,” according to Kucko.

During the Wednesday networking event, three jets were on static display.

The Gulfstream G550, which sells for $50 to $55 million, was the biggest of the three. Nicolas Rose, demonstration captain with Gulfstream, said the event is a time for the manufacturers to come socialize and show the plane.

“We have costumers on the field, so we network with them and make sure everything is good with their product,” Rose said.

Jeff Michael, East Coast representative for the Learjet 75, another plane on display, said they use these events to showcase their product.

“We try and schedule buyers to come,” Michael said.

The third plane on the tarmac was the Legacy 450 manufactured by Embraer.

Von Hagel estimated 300 people were in attendance at the networking event.

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Cobb Cobb County International Airport Networking Event Federal Aviation Administration Airport Advisory Board Georgia Business Aviation Association

Information: Claire Harper Marietta Daily Jounal


Cobb County International Airport - McCollum Field

Cobb County International Airport

McCollum Field is owned by Cobb County, operated by the County Department of Transportation characterizing it as a municipal airport. It is managed by a full-time, professional airport manager. The airport employs almost 185 people, and had an annual economic impact of more than $47 million to the local economy in 2002.

1723 McCollum Pkwy NW, Kennesaw, GA 30144