The Ottawa Airport Advisory Board voted 4-0 Monday afternoon to recommend city commissioners instruct Richard Nienstedt, city manager, and Bob Bezek, city attorney, to enter into contract negotiations with a new airport management company being organized by J.D. Scott, owner of Hawkeye Helicopter LLC, 401 S. Main St., Ottawa, to serve as the fixed-base operator of the airport, 2178 Montana Road.
David Brecheisen, Hawkeye Helicopter’s chief mechanic, would serve as airport manager, and Craig Chaney, Hawkeye’s business development manager, would be assistant airport manager of the new fixed-base operator, according to a proposal submitted by Hawkeye Helicopter.
Cal Lantis, airport advisory board member who was on the board’s FBO selection committee, told board members the selection committee met with Hawkeye Helicopter representatives twice. Lantis had some reservations after the first meeting, he said. But after talking with Hawkeye owner J.D. Scott, who was in attendance at the second meeting, he said he felt much more comfortable about recommending the city enter into negotiations with Hawkeye Helicopter.
Hawkeye Helicopter, established in 1995, has a fleet of 18 aircraft operating in 28 states under the direction of Scott, according to the company. While its main business is powerline and pipeline patrol, Hawkeye Helicopter is a nationally recognized company that also offers aerial photography, the company said.
Lantis, owner of Century 21 Lantis & Associates Inc., Ottawa, said the fixed-base operator would not be Hawkeye Helicopter, but the new management company being created by Hawkeye.
“Hawkeye Helicopter, LLC would propose to create a subsidiary company, Hawkeye Airport & Aviation Services, LLC to conduct all business related to this endeavor,” Chaney said in the company’s proposal to the City of Ottawa.
Brecheisen would oversee all aspects of overall airport operations and of the FBO, the Hawkeye proposal said. Brecheisen has 21 years of experience in airport operations as a FBO, according to the proposal.
Some of the services Hawkeye Helicopter said it could provide at the Ottawa airport include aircraft rental, flight instruction and training, aeronautical/aviation club support and sponsorship and developing relationships with local and regional higher education centers to promote aviation technology.
Advisory board members talked about Hawkeye’s ability to expand fuel sales at the airport. Board members recommended a short-term contract of less than five years be negotiated, with the option to renew it for a longer term.
The city needs the ability to revisit the contract in the short term to make sure the agreement between the city and FBO is functioning as originally intended, Lantis said.
Advisory board member Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher of The Herald, asked what kind of insurance coverage would be necessary to protect the city and inquired about what vetting process Hawkeye Helicopter had gone through.
Nienstedt said the advisory board’s recommendation was just the first step, and that the vetting process would continue if the city commission instructs city staff to move forward with the negotiations.
The financial terms of the agreement, the length of the contract, insurance coverage, hours of operation, types of services and other details would be part of the contract negotiations, Nienstedt said. The contract would have to be approved by the city commission before the deal could be finalized.
Jack Miller, advisory board chairman, Dr. Bud Gollier, Lantis and Sharp voted in favor of recommending the city commission instruct city staff to begin negotiations with Hawkeye. Advisory board member Blake Jorgensen abstained from voting because of a relationship with Hawkeye Helicopter, he said.
The city has been looking for a permanent fixed-base operator to succeed Chuck LeMaster, 80, who resigned in mid-December 2012.