CWU News

CWU, Midstate Aviation Sign Agreement to Enhance Airport Services, Aviation Program

Providing CWU’s Aviation program with some much-needed elbow room, and allowing Midstate Aviation to modify its FBO obligations were the main points of an agreement signed in November by Central Washington University and Ron Mitchell of Midstate Aviation.

“It is truly a win-win for both of us,” said Sundaram Nataraja, chair of CWU’s Aviation Department. “With increased enrollment, we’ve needed to add more classroom space. Plus we now have additional space to store aircraft out of the weather.”

“This agreement definitely helps Aviation move forward with expanding its program,” said Paul Ballard, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies. “To meet the critical need for more pilots—actually more aviation professional in general—we have to make room for more students and aircraft.”

The agreement allows CWU to purchase buildings that Midstate owns on property leased from the county. 

Mitchell and Nataraja met earlier this year to discuss the agreement. Midstate proposed to sell two properties: a 60-year-old building that was once used to train WWII pilots, and currently used for a flight school; and a newer mechanical shop with hangar space, for a total of $200,000.

The terms of the county lease required Midstate to act as the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) to supply good and services mandated by the FAA. These services include: fuel supply, and repair and maintenance operations for guest airplanes; a pilot lounge, including bathroom facilities, vending machines, computer with internet connection and wi-fi for weather updates; a conference room; weather services; and local car rental or courtesy vehicles for guest pilot use. The FAA also requires the FBO to act as a security monitor, manage county tie-down areas, and coordinate operations with the airport manager.

In exchange, the county gives the FBO a $20,000 lease credit for providing the services.

According to Nataraja, Midstate proposed splitting the FBO duties, in essence creating two FBOs for the airport.

“Ron wants keep the fueling and maintenance part of the FBO,” said Nataraja. “CWU would provide the airport services for the guest pilots and airplanes. This fits very nicely with our plan of creating an airport management specialty in our curriculum.”

CWU will receive more room, and initially, hangar space for three small aircraft. The university will rent the buildings from Midstate until November 2017. After that, CWU Aviation will lease a temperature-controlled hangar space for 10 small aircraft, in addition to more classroom space and enhanced access to necessary services.

The agreement is subject to approval by the Board of the County Commissioners.


Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,

December 12, 2016