Bend Airport beginning work to update master plan

Will map out future plans for busy facility

Bend airport updating master plan

BEND, Ore. - The Bend Municipal Airport wants to update its master plan to keep up with the growth of Bend. This update includes a grant from the Oregon Department of Aviation that will help kick-start the planning efforts. 

"The airport has been growing, and as everyone who lives in Bend knows, everything is growing explosively," Airport Manager Gary Judd said Wednesday. "The same thing is happening with the airport, so a lot of things have changed in dynamics."

The Bend City Council approved the airport's request to apply for and accept a grant from the Oregon Department of Aviation of up to $150,000 to help with master-plan funding. The last master plan update happened in 2013 and helped to create a heliport that has not yet opened.

""This master plan will look at the airport -- all the assets we have, the current activity, the forecast activity, the amount of land we have left to develop, and what's the best use of that land," Judd said.

The Bend Municipal Airport, located east of town on the Powell Butte Highway, is the third-busiest airport in the state, with about 140,000 operations a year, which includes take-offs and landings. 

A pilot and instructor said it's important to keep aviation alive, and it starts with the smaller, general-aviation airports.

"What makes flying worth it for me is the fact that it's kind of the getaway for me," said Professional Air instructor Doug Larkins. "I get up in the air, and all my thoughts just kind of go out the window,  because I am focused on the task at hand and my student."

Judd said the airport is not planning any future commercial flight services. They want to keep the airport business-oriented and available to those who own their own aircraft and fly themselves. The master plan is just a blueprint. 

"It keeps us, hopefully, from making expensive mistakes, building things we don't need and getting into projects that aren't dictated by use," Judd said. "So I think that's the key to the master plan is to do them often enough that we are reflecting reality for what we are building and what we are planning for."

By updating the plan, the airport also can prepare for potential runway extensions, development of new hangars, a possible communications tower, and even the future of the drone industry.

This update to the airport master plan is a multi-year, multi-phase project. No major changes will be made for at least two to three years, the official said. 

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