The airfield now known as Hanscom was formed in 1941 on 500 acres comprised of land in Bedford, Lexington, Concord and Lincoln. Currently operated by Massport, Hanscom Airfield now comprises 1,125 acres, with a significant new development on the horizon.
North Airfield Ventures, LLC and Runway Realty Ventures, LLC submitted a 102-page Environmental Notification Form (ENF) to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office on Jan. 23 with plans for a “master development” — the addition of 27 hangars (495,000 square feet) on 47 acres at Hanscom’s North Airfield.
Local interest in the development is high: approximately 50 individuals attended a Feb. 6 site visit on the airfield and 144 participants logged onto a three-hour webinar that evening.
During the webinar, State Senator Mike Barrett (D-3rd Middlesex) strongly challenged the plan primarily on environmental grounds, saying “I’m just channeling my constituents’ general concern — but four towns surrounding this airport are striving on their own to go ‘green’ and to be sensitive in all kinds of ways, from housing to transportation to the way they procure electric power, to be sensitive about emissions … But private jet travel, whether by corporations or by individuals, despite the improvements made in jet propulsion technology, are exceedingly emissions-heavy, per capita, per dollar, on any metric you might choose.”
Barrett characterized Massport as “intent on building its private jet business” and said he wanted “to register that foundational objection to this process going forward.” He said his “conviction that this is fundamentally misplaced” stems from an “awareness that a Massport facility in our midst will single-handedly undo much of the progress we make in terms of ‘greening’ transportation and buildings.”
Both of Lexington’s representatives in the Massachusetts House, Rep. Ken Gordon (D-21st Middlesex) and Rep. Michelle Ciccolo (D-15th Middlesex) agreed with Sen. Barrett’s comments and posed their own questions during the webinar. Gordon wondered about the actual number of current “ferry flights” and Ciccolo asked about quantifying the number of trees that will be lost and how many of the proposed hangars are already reserved or purchased by aircraft already based at Hanscom.
Proponents see expansion as necessary to adequately meet demand
Contrary to the concerns raised by the legislators, the Proponent’s ENF claims the development will “facilitate progress toward a carbon neutral aviation industry by incorporating infrastructure to support electric vehicles and equipment, electric aircraft, and sustainable aviation fuels — contributing in measurable ways to Massport’s Net Zero goal by 2031.” They also expect to see “environmental benefits associated with reduced air emissions by reducing overall aircraft trips” by lessening the number of “ferry flights,” caused when private aircraft servicing passengers at Hanscom must hangar at other airports between their arrival and departure. The additional hangar space would allow those aircraft to remain at Hanscom instead while waiting for their private jet passengers.
The ENF further claims the project will “relieve pressure from Logan in accordance with Massport’s long-term planning objective aimed at using regional airports to satisfy the current and future demand for general aviation services” and notes that “Hanscom Field is the Federal Aviation Administration’s designated general aviation reliever for Logan Airport.”