Myrtle Beach International Airport is situated around three miles from Myrtle Beach in Horry County, South Carolina, USA. The airport is a former air force base (closed in 1993) that is now owned by the county (Horry County Department of Airports) and provides air services to the immediate area including supporting an expanding tourist industry (US Airways is one of its largest carriers but it also has a very large general aviation usage).

The airport has an area of around 3,795 acres (1,536ha) and has a single runway, 18/36, measuring 9,503ft×150ft (2,897m×46m). For 2007 the airport hosted around 56,381 aircraft operations, 40% of which were general aviation based, and 600,000 passengers. The 128,000ft² terminal building has seven gates and also six gate areas with a number of retail outlets and restaurants and a four-storey glass atrium (the last major renovation was completed in April 1993 and cost around $23m).

Contractors for the 1993 expansion included Timbes Wilund Group Architects Inc, Day & Zimmerman Inc, Pizzagalli Construction Company, and APAC. Site engineers included Engineering Consultants and The LPA Group.

Renovations in 2007 saw two new jetways replacing those installed at gates two and three. Further projects in 2008 saw new flooring, new furniture, a new bar and a new snack bar on the lower level.

New general aviation terminal

In June 2008 construction of the new Myrtle Beach general aviation terminal (GAT) began. The $4.5m project was completed in May 2010. The new facility was expected to serve an annual 45,000 passengers from private aircraft. The old GAT was a former air force operations building, which was too small and lacked the expected facilities.

The project design is a single-level building with a large passenger lounge, a snack bar, public restrooms and a private pilot lounge with a restroom, shower and relaxation room. The building is surrounded by canopies to protect disembarking passengers and there is also a large multi-purpose training room, conference room and business centre.

The business centre includes three computer workstations, two private offices and two private phone areas. In addition there are FBO Administration areas including a customer service desk, general aviation manager office, property manager and line crew operations.

The project team included Gresham, Smith & Partners, Pegram & Associates, WPC Engineering, Kyzer & Timmerman Engineering, Hass & Kennedy Engineering, McNight-Smith-Ward & Griffen Engineers, Civil & Land Resources Inc, and Sue Krowka RLA. MB Kahn Construction Co Inc provided construction management / planning services.

GAT finance

The new GAT project cost around $4.5m and the finance was provided from a number of sources – $2m from the State of South Carolina; $1m grant from South Carolina Division of Aeronautics; $800,000 grant from the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority; $700,000 Airport Enterprise funds.

Passenger terminal enhancement

“In June 2008 construction of the new Myrtle Beach general aviation terminal (GAT) began.”

The previous passenger terminal was evaluated for the east side terminal capacity expansion programme (TCEP). The planning team included MB Kahn Construction Co Inc and the LPA Group Inc.

Several alternatives were considered but the Airport Advisory Committee has recommended that the terminal be enlarged from seven to 12 gates at a cost of approximately $135m. The terminal expansion was expected to have an economic impact of around $147.5m for Horry County.

Myrtle Beach International security

Security systems at the main terminal are state-of-the-art. The stairwell doors are equipped with Von Duprin’s Chexit controlled exit devices, which can be opened after a 15-second delay after which an alarm will sound. A card reader then allows employees with security clearance to deactivate the alarm temporarily to use the door.

The system uses a Von Duprin 7000 System, an access control system that uses a combination of card readers and PINs tied into a Von Duprin 2400 security control system.