Last week’s National Airports Conference was a great opportunity to network with colleagues and clients.
Just over 200 people attended this year’s conference at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona. It was so good that even the weather cooperated by keeping it comfortable.
If you missed it, enjoy this recap of the event’s sessions:
General Session I: State of the Aviation Industry included a panel of representatives from airports and the FAA, TSA, ATA and NBAA. Each representative talked about their struggles and successes through the current economy. A poll of the panel and attendees resulted in a vote of little confidence that a long-term bill from Congress will be passed prior to the 2012 elections.
General Session II – FAA: The Latest from Washington can be summarized by saying that the FAA is back in business for a few more months, and this current Continuing Resolution (No. 22) through the end of the year almost feels like a long-term bill.
The always hot topic of runway safety area compliance was discussed. The FAA plans to meet their goal for the 2015 compliance for all airports where improvements are achievable and feasible. Also, with all of the new land use issues arising, the FAA will accept a more focused look at land use compatibility during the master plan process and approach the subject as planning for compliance.
Small group discussions focused on the conference theme, Strategies for Managing Through Unpredictable Times.
Fetch Help with DOGs was of interest to airports in all parts of the country. The session was an in-depth discussion of disaster operation groups (DOGs) in the southeast (SEADOG) and the west (WESTDOG). Airports in these DOGs work together to help each other recover from disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. Member airports can respond to emergencies with staff, equipment and expertise to help a damaged airport get back to business.
Mead & Hunt’s own Tim Callister, AAE, moderated and spoke at a small group session on irregular operations (IROPS). The session, which also included Chad Makovsky, CM, from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Randall Berg, AAE, from Salt Lake City Department of Airports, focused on helping airports plan for diverted flights and the subsequent passengers that emerge with little or no notice.
Tim presented ACRP Project 10-10, Guidebook for Airport Irregular Operations (IROPS) Contingency Planning, which is being led by Mead & Hunt. The ACRP guidebook is a tool to help airports formulate a strategy to deal with stranded passengers, whether on an aircraft, in the terminal or needing off-side accommodations. The session also included a presentation by Joseph Bertapelle, with JetBlue, one of the first airlines to create their own IROPS plan.
The conference concluded with roundtable discussions. The medium- and large-hub airports are focusing on alternative revenue sources, due to the uncertainty of FAA AIP funding and no foreseeable increase in PFCs. Small/non-hub airports wrestled with security issues.