Licensed by the Ministry of Transportation and certified as a Green Enterprise, Hezarfen Airfield, Turkey’s first internationally registered private airfield, continues to fulfill an essential role.
Hezarfen Airfield is located thirty kilometers from Istanbul, near Büyükçekmece Lake. Serving as Turkey’s first internationally recognized private airfield since 1992, Hezarfen Airfield also functions as a training field because it is mostly used by flight schools. The airfield has facilities to cater to all the needs of both trainees and visitors. It is also a place to practice hobbies: in Hezarfen Hobbyland, there is a skating/skateboarding area, playground, world-class model plane field, model car field, model off-road field, motocross racing track, a five-hundred-person capacity barbeque and picnic area, and a giant concert area. We spoke to Faruk Berksan, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hezarfen Airfield, about the site, which is not so well known in spite of being right by Istanbul.
Can you talk about Hezarfen Airfield’s mission?
In the years civil aviation was first allowed to develop freely, there wasn’t a safe, private airfield that complied with all the rules of aviation. Whether for amateur aviators, pilot training schools, or companies engaged in aviation with small planes, there was a need for airfields. Atatürk Airport, the only airfield in Istanbul at the time, was difficult—if not impossible—to use for such purposes. Hezarfen Airfield was established with the mission of opening the door for and accelerating the development of civil aviation.
How are the market structure and dynamics of the sector you have entered in Turkey and worldwide?
Back then, there were only 220 civil planes in our country, including passenger planes, training planes, and crop dusters. Around the same time, in the United States, there were more than five hundred thousand civil planes. Over 1,500 civil planes were parked in certain airfields. So we were quite behind in civil aviation. And this promised great development opportunities to aviators.
What sort of operation do you run? Can you explain the general process and value chains in your business?
In aviation, the initiative that can be taken by companies and individuals are very limited. Each of your moves and each of your decisions are limited and determined by rules. Therefore, if you engage in aviation on a right track, you can never have a difference unique to you. Aviation in our country has been on the rise over the past seven or eight years. However, the number of trained personnel is insufficient. The healthy development of aviation can only be realized through an increased number of people who have absorbed knowledge of aviation. And this is possible through the young generation showing interest in aviation, whether as a hobby, as an education, or simply as sport. The state and institutions of aviation need to support amateur aviation clubs, aviation training, and aviation sports.
What makes you and your enterprise different from other companies, giving you a competitive advantage?
The Hezarfen Company never compromises on safety, the essential rule of civil aviation. There is no tolerance for unlicensed companies, pilots, and other personnel. Those missing what is necessary are directed toward the right path and assisted. Owing to this fastidious approach, there thankfully has never been a single serious accident at Hezarfen Airfield. It is the only airfield to possess a Green Enterprise Certificate among private institutions. Furthermore, there is a model plane runway alongside the regular runway in our facilities. Ali İsmet Öztürk, our country’s only acrobatic pilot with international renown, carries out his activities at Hezarfen Airfield. The Top Air Flight Training Organization, which has been bearing pilots for twenty years, and Ayjet, the largest school in our country that produces airline pilots, carry out their training at Hezarfen Airfield.