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August 15, 2023

Consultant to present final report on Brainard Airport’s future this fall; flying taxis could be part of recommendation

Contributed Hartford's Brainard Airport.

A consultant is in the final stage of drafting a report with recommendations on the future of Hartford’s Brainard Airport, and is set to present its final report in October.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development hired New York-based BFJ Planning to study the current use of the small, regional airport, explore potential alternative uses, and then recommend the highest and best use of the property moving forward.

BFJ Planning will present its recommendations to the Connecticut Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee on Oct. 15.

The consultant has studied three possibilities: the airport remains open; the airport remains open, but the secondary runway closes; or the airport closes altogether.

If the airport remains open, the Connecticut Airport Authority has determined the facility will need about $22 million in upgrades over the next 20 years, including renovations to the secondary runway.

Also, if no changes are made, the airport is expected to continue operating at a deficit of about $400,000 annually.

If the airport closes, 138 aircraft currently housed there would have to be relocated.

Also, closing the airport would require a finding by the Federal Aviation Administration that ceasing its operations would result in “a net benefit to civil aviation.”

A third option would keep the airport open while closing the secondary runway, which is rarely used. This would reduce operating costs and offset losses, according to the consultant’s presentation on Aug. 10.  

Closing the runway would open the door for other uses on that section of the 200-acre property, including a “vertiport” to handle vertical landings and departures of small aircraft known as flying taxis. 

The consultant is also looking at the pros and cons of closing the airport and using the space for residential, office, retail, industrial and recreational uses.

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