NOAA awards 10-year lease to ​City of Lakeland, Florida, to house NOAA Aircraft Operations Center

NOAA has awarded a 10-year lease to ​the City of Lakeland, Florida, to house the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. AOC serves as the main base for NOAA’s fleet of nine specialized environmental data-gathering aircraft, including the agency’s three “hurricane hunter” planes.

NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion N42RF on 18 October 2016 following a major overhaul and upgrades.

NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion N42RF on 18 October 2016 following a major overhaul and upgrades. (Image credit: NOAA/Mike Mascaro)

Under the lease terms, the City of Lakeland will provide AOC aircraft hangar and office space, facilities for aircraft repairs and component storage, and a runway that is at least 8,000 feet long.

The proposal submitted by the City of Lakeland was the lowest-priced technically acceptable offer NOAA received in response to the agency’s request for proposals.

The competition was open to airport facilities within 50 road-miles of the MacDill Air Force Base main gate. NOAA took into account the need to retain AOC’s highly skilled and specialized workforce and be ready for the 2017 hurricane season when defining the lease competition area.

AOC plans to move into the facility in the spring of 2017 and expects to be fully prepared to support hurricane research, reconnaissance and response operations during the 2017 hurricane season.

NOAA sought to lease a facility after being notified by the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 1, 2016, that MacDill Air Force Base, located in Tampa, Florida, required the hangar and facilities AOC has occupied as a tenant since 1993. No other NOAA operations in the Tampa Bay area are affected.

“We thank the MacDill Air Force Base community for their hospitality and support over the years,” said NOAA Corps Capt. Michael J. Silah, AOC’s commanding officer. “We will continue to work with all of our partners in the region and look forward to serving the nation from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.”

NOAA’s aircraft fleet is maintained and operated by a team of approximately 110 civilians and NOAA Corps officers. NOAA aircraft play a vital role in collecting environmental data essential to protecting lives and property, conserving and managing coastal and marine resources, and understanding weather and climate.


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Lt. Kevin Doremus, 774-217-3847