Construction of more than 50 new hangars at the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport is underway, the airport director says.

PDK Director Mike Van Wie spoke to the Buckhead Business Association on March 28. He said the project cost more than the original $5 million budget because of federal environmental regulations. Total construction costs will be around $8.3 million, he said.

“Broke ground on the hangar project last week,” Van Wie said.

Van Wie said there will be an official groundbreaking ceremony in April.

During his remarks, Van Wie talked about the economic benefits of general aviation. PDK provides general aviation services, meaning it does not handle commercial or freight traffic. The airport is located on Chamblee Tucker Road and is the second busiest airport in Georgia.

“We’re a general aviation reliever airport,” Van Wie said. “That reliever designation is important to us. We relieve Hartsfield of the business jets, the Cessna 172s, the prop planes. That reliever status qualifies us for a separate pool of federal money that’s available for capital improvement.”

He said the airport brings in $39.9 million in tax revenue to DeKalb County and traffic at the airport creates 1,834 jobs.

Van Wie said the airport has felt little impact from the sequestration, a series of automatic federal budget cuts that began in March. He said PDK air traffic controllers are federal employees while other Georgia airports use contractors for those jobs.

While PDK receives federal money for improvement projects and air traffic controllers, Van Wie said the current president isn’t a friend of general aviation. Van Wie talked at length about No Plane No Gain advocacy program, a joint effort of the National Business Aviation Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The group has taken issue with President Obama’s criticism of corporate jets as unnecessary luxuries.

“The current administration has been beating up general aviation at every opportunity,” Van Wie said. “The No Plane No Gain program started in defense of our industry.”

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of