Voyager Jet

Voyager Jet

Project Details

West Mifflin, PA
18,000 square feet
End Use: Aviation & Transportation

New Voyager Jet Center Takes Flight

Private aviation facility expansion surpasses industry standards.

First-Class Finishes: The building was designed for luxury.
Long-Lasting Roof: The architect checked out an MR-24® roof system from 1969 (still in great condition) before opting for this solution.
Durable Design: The TextureWall wall system is virtually identical to stucco, but stands up to weather better.

A Class Of Its Own

SunLite Strip® has been further enhanced since this project was completed.

Luxury in Pittsburgh

Many executives at Fortune 500 companies, famous actors, athletes and politicians are constantly on the go, taking meetings with business associates all over the country. They lead fast-paced lives that require the use of private aviation. Over time, cities blur together as they fly from one airport to another. Every so often, however, a luxury facility may make them want to stay a while.

Previously, these luxury services were hard to come by in the Pittsburgh area. That is until Voyager Jet Center made the decision to expand operations and build a new hangar and fixed-base operatory (FBO) facility at the Allegheny County Airport, just 8 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Voyager Jet Center Chief Executive Officer Chuck Falce and General Manager Karl Foerster decided that expansion would need to play a major role in their plans if they were going to grow the business and establish Voyager as the leader in private aviation in the Pittsburgh market. A new first-class facility would be an essential component for attracting customers.

“We realized expansion was the best direction for the company. Since it was the first new building on-site in 30 years, we were committed to getting it right.”

Chuck Falce, Voyager Jet Center

Butler Manufacturing made this possible with solutions for unique aviation demands and long-term cost savings.

Designing For Total Cost Of Ownership

As the planning process began, Voyager hired architect Dean E. Hess, AIA, to lead the vision. For a design-build partner, Hess recommended New-Belle Construction, Inc., based in nearby Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania. Hess was familiar with New-Belle and its status as a Butler Builder®, as well as various Butler Manufacturing systems.

During initial meetings between the Voyager and New-Belle teams, New-Belle sales manager Dean Clark and President Jim Kelly shared examples of Butler® roof systems installed from years past to showcase their durability over time. One example in particular featured the MR-24® standingseam roof system from 1969, still in great condition, which amazed Hess. As an architect, he works with various roof types and realizes that many conventional roof materials only last 10 to 15 years — a far cry from the performance of the MR-24 metal roof system.

The total cost of ownership and The Butler Difference were also heavily discussed, and the New-Belle team explained that the upfront price of a building is only part of the true cost of owning a facility, a point that Voyager leadership was eager to consider.

“Voyager ownership understood The Butler Difference and that the initial investment is not the only consideration when purchasing a building. They knew that reduced operational costs, as a result of building with Butler systems, would provide a tremendous value well after building completion.”

Dean Clark, New-Belle Construction, Inc.

The Butler Difference

The Voyager Jet Center project called for an 18,000-square-foot hangar capable of housing a Gulfstream G650, as well as an 8,000-square-foot FBO terminal. The FBO would offer a passenger waiting area and amenities, private pilot lounge and quiet rooms, Wi-Fi throughout and ramp-side car service.

Given the nature of an airplane hangar, the Butler design called for a Widespan structural system to accommodate varying airplane widths. Additionally, the Widespan system provided ample support for the heavy 150-foot hangar door, as well as the wind load the door creates. The long-lasting MR-24® roof system, a standard for New-Belle, also was selected.

As part of the value engineering process, New-Belle identified opportunities for cost savings that included replacing the planned exterior plaster finish with the TextureWall panel wall system for the entryway because it achieved the same look at a better price while also featuring weather-resistant materials to combat tough weather during Pennsylvania winters. The designed front portico drive-through also was modified to include all Butler structural systems as another cost-saving initiative.

“From the onset, Dean and Jim took our project very personally and found cost savings while dealing with any issues firsthand. Jim expressed that he’d be involved with the building forever, and we really took that to heart.”

Karl Foerster, Voyager Jet Center  

Hangar Project Heats Up

When building such a large hangar space, heating is a utility item that can’t be overlooked. Architects and builders often design to code, but Hess and Kelly collaborated on a wall plan for the hangar that would exceed code, reduce energy use, save money and still be aesthetically pleasing. The solution: the Shadowall wall system. The Shadowall system features an architecturally pleasing appearance with exceptional energy efficiency, plus it ties in nicely to the TextureWall system in other parts of the facility.

As Hess and New-Belle worked on the design, they faced a challenge in the building elevation requirement. New-Belle worked with engineers at Butler Manufacturing to tweak the design in order to achieve the correct height of the hangar, so it didn’t cause a risk in the fly zone where planes take off and land.

Voyager also requested the inclusion of the SunLite Strip® daylighting system in the design in order to take advantage of natural light. The improved energy efficiency was an added bonus. The skylights add to the aesthetics of the facility, and many pilots have remarked how nice it is to work under natural light. Voyager realizes increased energy savings thanks to LED lighting and energy-efficient dimmers.

Amenities, Amenities, Amenities

Success in the private aviation industry hinges on creating a customer-friendly environment, matching and exceeding the standards of a typical airline terminal. Easy access to conveniences is expected. Customers require comfortable lounge amenities, similar to frequent-flier clubs in the commercial airline industry, as well as conference rooms, and kitchen and catering services.

On the other side of the spectrum, Voyager also provides services for the pilots who fly the aircraft. In private aviation, pilots are as important as the passenger customers given their propensity to spend more time at the facility. Daily schedules for travelers flying private often change on the fly, so it’s not uncommon for pilots to spend hours at the facility as they wait for customers to return for the flight back. As such, the Voyager design includes many amenities, such as a pilot lounge and a quiet room in case they need rest.

Another pilot benefit at Voyager is easy access to their aircraft. Trips back and forth to the planes from the Voyager facility are a breeze due to the close proximity of the building to the ramp. Another unique feature within the industry is Wi-Fi access on the aircraft ramp.

Lavish accommodations, convenient 24-hour quick-turn capabilities and close proximity to downtown are all symbols of the significantly upgraded Voyager facility. Aesthetics also play a role in the perception of a top-flight facility, so New-Belle selected TextureWall panels to provide a stucco-like appearance to the insulated exterior walls.

“The new facility gave our customers and aircraft owners a morale boost and confidence in our company. They see our commitment and realize that they’re in business with the right company, and they’re happy to promote us to their friends and colleagues.”

Chuck Falce, Voyager Jet Center

Finished Product Drives New Business Avenues

The Voyager Jet Center has garnered plenty of buzz in the area, and many local organizations are taking notice. In fact, Falce and Foerster have been inundated with requests to use the facility as an event space, providing an entirely different and unexpected revenue stream. At one such event for Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Western Pennsylvania’s 50th anniversary, more than 700 attendees successfully raised $300,000 for charity in one night.

“It’s very important that we provide the best possible facility and services to our employees and customers. This new building opened a door for us to be able to do that in a way we haven’t been able to for the last five years.”

Karl Foerster, Voyager Jet Center

SunLite Strip<sup.® has been further enhanced since this project was completed.

Butler Builder®

New-Belle Construction, Inc.


Dean E. Hess, AIA

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