Huntsville International is a medium-sized modern airport, situated in Madison County, Alabama, around 14km from the centre of the city of Huntsville. The airport is operated by the Huntsville / Madison County Airport Authority and serves the Huntsville Decatur metropolitan area (celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007). The airport handled 1.17 million passengers and recorded 70,436 aircraft movements in 2009.

The airport has two asphalt runways 18L/36R (10,006ft, 3,050m) and 18R/36L (12,600ft, 3,840m), a modern terminal building with a 12-gate concourse and an excellent range of facilities including shops, restaurants, a Sheraton Four Points hotel, a golf course, a business centre, a lounge and a comprehensive spaceflight exhibition for the passengers. The airport is the largest cargo-handling airport in Alabama with services to Europe, Mexico and Hong Kong.

Huntsville airport expansion and improvement projects

Huntsville International Airport has undergone some major renovation and expansion projects. The airport is currently still undergoing a $65m terminal expansion project.

The new 228ft air traffic control tower was inaugurated on 3 June 2008 by the Federal Aviation Administration and became operational on 4 May 2008. The tower complex, consisting of the tower and 10,500ft² base building, lies one mile south of the previous facility. A generator building and parking is also provided.

The control tower cost $18.5m to construct. The terminal radar approach control (TRACON), measuring 800ft², includes three radar positions – two radar assistant positions and a supervisory console. The tower is capable of controlling 50 miles around Huntsville and up to 10,000ft from the ground surface. The airspace radar coverage is provided by an airport surveillance radar (ASR-9) situated on the airfield. An ARTS IIE automation system displays the processed data from the ASR-9 on the radar screens.

A new airport concessions area measuring 6,000ft² was opened at the airport concourse on 13 May 2008.

“Huntsville International is the largest cargo-handling airport in Alabama with services to Europe, Mexico and Hong Kong.”

Other projects include new flight information display systems at the gates and in the waiting area outside the terminal (new 46in LCD monitors), an extension to the parking building of a further 1,330 spaces, a new 20,000ft² waiting area for passengers incorporating a security screening facility and an $18m expansion of the International Intermodal Centre, which was completed in 2007.

The existing parking deck at the airport was expanded to provide space for 1,300 cars. The total number of deck spaces now available at the parking deck is 3,000 while are there are more than 4,000 public spaces available. The parking expansion is worth an estimated $26m.

In 2005-2006 the west runway 18R/36L was lengthened to 12,600ft in a $31m project making it the second longest in south-east USA. However, there are now plans to lengthen the two runways, to build a new runway and also for the construction of a new terminal building.

The new 12,600ft-long runway will allow Boeing 747s to be turned around in two hours and have enough fuel to make direct Asia-Alabama flights for cargo and passengers.

Huntsville International air cargo expansion

In December 2007 the airport was negotiating a design / build contract worth $7.5m for the construction of a new air cargo building (92,493ft²) at the International Intermodal Centre (includes office and warehouse space). The company in line for the contract was Fite Building Co. Inc (based in Decatur) and included design and construction costs.

“The airport’s new 12,600ft-long runway will allow Boeing 747s to be turned around in two hours.”

The cost for the project was included in the 2008 budget, and the building was completed and opened on 30 April 2009. The air cargo facility features a 5,250ft² cold storage area. The existing cargo facility at the airport has installed a state-of-the-art X-ray machine, which can take a full 6ft × 6ft × 10ft cargo pallet and provide an X-ray examination.

Another project at the airport is the construction of a new 63,000ft² maintenance facility by Yates Construction and RW Armstrong for defence contractor WestWind Technologies.

The new hangar facility was inaugurated on 29 September 2009 and is capable of accommodating large fixed-wing (C-130s) and multiple rotary-wing aircraft at the same time. The facility is owned by Aviation Facilities who leased it to West Wind.

Huntsville airport passenger waiting area

The passenger waiting area project (Chapman Sisson Architects), which started in December 2007, was worth more than $13m and added two new wings near the current connector walkway and security checkpoint.

“Huntsville International Airport is undergoing some major renovation projects.”

Each of the new wings feature 30ft-high panoramic windows that overlook airfield operations. The west wing contains the security checkpoint, and the east wing forms a large lobby / seating area to accommodate up to 200 people.

The renovation significantly widened the walkway toward the new wings and actually added four times more new space than the previous public areas. Work was completed and the new passenger waiting area was inaugurated in October 2009. On March 2010, bids will be called for expanding the baggage claim area.