Drilling Down – International Aviation Issues Come Home

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke (second from right) discusses international security challenges at the 23rd AVSEC World

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke (second from right) discusses international security challenges at the 23rd AVSEC World.  Other panelists from left: Jim Marriott, deputy director aviation security and facilitation, ICAO; Calin Rovinescu, CEO, Air Canada; Jeff Poole, director general, CANSO; and Tony Tyler, director general and CEO, IATA.


Kevin M. Burke
ACI-NA President and CEO

A few weeks ago, I participated on a panel discussion during the 23rd AVSEC World, where I had the privilege to discuss the challenges in meeting future security demands amidst an uncertain global political climate with the heads of IATA, CANSO, and Air Canada, as well as ICAO’s deputy director of aviation security and facilitation.  As the panel’s sole airports representative, it was a valuable opportunity for me to share our industry’s perspective and recommendations for ensuring safe and secure commercial air travel, especially in an era of constrained governmental resources.

In both the United States and Canada, federal budgetary limitations continue to squeeze staffing levels at security checkpoints and international arrivals areas.  Meanwhile, recent alerts and threats pertaining to commercial air travel have resulted in increased security screening procedures.  This combination of factors has created quite the conundrum for North America’s airports: they’ve been tasked to do much more with much less, and failure is not an option.  In a perfect world, American and Canadian airports would be fully funded to carry out the security and facilitation initiatives mandated by Washington and Ottawa.  In reality, the fiscal environments in which our airports operate demand creative and collaborative solutions favoring the risk-based over the redundant.

Take for example the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) PreCheck program.  From a practical perspective, PreCheck harnesses available data—provided by passengers on a voluntary basis—and intelligence information to serve as an indicator to guide the application of screening resources.  From the passenger’s perspective, it’s even more straightforward—no need to remove shoes, acceptable liquids, and other items that can slow down the line.  As I expressed to my fellow AVSEC World panelists, ACI-NA fully supports PreCheck, and we’ve been working with TSA to significantly increase enrollment.

Similarly regarding facilitation, ACI-NA has been a strong proponent of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry and the Canada Border Services Agency’s NEXUS programs, and we’ve encouraged the expansion of reciprocal agreements with other countries in order allow their citizens to participate in trusted-traveler programs.  We’ve also championed collaborative technologies to reduce administrative burdens, most notably the Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks and the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) smartphone app.  Like PreCheck, these initiatives have resulted in measurable gains for participating airports, their federal partners, and the passengers they serve.

ACI-NA’s International Aviation Issues Seminar, December 4-5 in Washington, is an opportunity to continue the conversation started at AVSEC World, and I’m pleased to note that our keynote address will be delivered by CBP’s acting assistant commissioner, John Wagner, who has been instrumental to realizing APC and MPC.  I hope that you’re able to join us and representatives from across the aviation community as we continue to discuss challenges and explore solutions in an increasingly complex world.

Airport Trading Cards: A Mint-Condition Marketing Opportunity

by Maureen Riley
Executive Director
Salt Lake City Department of Airports

More than 20 million people travel through Salt Lake City International Airport each year. For many of our passengers, the airport plays a big part in their imaginations. From first-time fliers to the most well-versed aviation geeks, airports have an instantaneous appeal. They represent both anticipation and completion, where travelers head off into the world and return home. Airports are also complex and fascinating communities in their own right, as our employees work to ensure safe and secure operations each day.

Earlier this month, SLC joined nearly 20 airports from across the U.S. and Canada in the inaugural series of the North American Airport Trading Cards. The idea for the cards initially had been that of a collectible. Like many of our fellow Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) members, SLC routinely gets requests from airport enthusiasts for memorabilia branded with our three-letter International Air Transport Association (IATA) code. But as SLC’s card started to take shape, another possibility emerged.

SLC Executive Director Maureen Riley and junior aviation enthusiasts show off the SLC trading card

SLC Executive Director Maureen Riley and junior aviation enthusiasts show off the SLC trading card

As the first vice chair of ACI-NA, I represent the interests of not only my own airport, but those of our full membership. ACI-NA is well-known as the “Voice of Airports” in Washington, D.C., and Ottawa, but sometimes it can be a challenge to have airports stick in the minds of lawmakers. The new trading cards series helps us do exactly that.

On the back of SLC’s card, you’ll notice some fun facts, such as how we were the gateway to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and that we’re within an hour’s drive to 11 ski resorts. We also offer more than 650 daily arrivals and departures to nearly 90 non-stop destinations. But did you also know that we’re in midst of a $1.8 billion terminal redevelopment program that will be completed in 2022?

It’s this last fact that makes SLC’s trading card more than a keepsake—it transforms it into an advocacy tool. Capital improvement projects, like our terminal redevelopment, might not easily capture the public’s imagination. But when it reads like a batting average, infrastructure investment becomes an all-star stat for a world-class airport.

The next time you’re flying through SLC, stop by an airport information desk to start (or complete) your trading card collection.

Calgary Unveils Canada’s Longest Runway: 17L – 35R

by the Calgary Airport Authority

Ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the June 14 Run on the Runway at Calgary International Airport

Canada’s third-busiest and fastest-growing airport is about to open the country’s longest runway. At 14,000 feet long and 200 feet wide, the new runway will bring more people and add more destinations to the already extensive worldwide network enjoyed by the 14.3 million travelers who pass through YYC annually.

Planning for the runway dates back to the 1970s, and the mega-project features many of the latest technological advances, including:

  • CAT III (a) instrument landing system, aiding aircraft in low visibility operations
  • More than 5,000 LED lights incorporated into the runway and taxiways inset and edge lighting

Fun-runners touch down on Canada's longest runway in Calgary

Completing this massive and state-of-the-art airfield system project was a major milestone for the Authority and the city and province it serves.  To mark this milestone, the Authority reached out to the community to get their ideas on how it should be celebrated. The Authority first turned to social media with the YYC “30 Days, 300 Ideas” campaign, which encouraged the public to share their best ideas on how we should celebrate the completion of the runway. Participants shared far more than our initial goal of 300 ideas.  From concepts ranging from public hot air balloon rides to world record-breaking domino chains, the ideas were diverse and creative! In the end, the winning ideas were to host a run and open the runway to family-fun activities and displays, which meant quickly starting work on planning a full weekend of public activities themed the “YYC Run and Roam the Runway”.

YYC's Roam the Runway brought many Calgarians out to the new 17L-35R on June 15

On June 14, the Authority kicked off the weekend events with the “Run the Runway” fun run, with 1,400 participants racing (or walking and cruising in a state-of-the-art wheelchair) on a 5 K or 8.4 K run under a clear Calgary sky.  On June 15, more than 10,000 guests signed up to “Roam the Runway,“ where guests were treated to some of Calgary’s best food truck treats, a ton of kids events and activities and 36 of the world’s most famous aircraft.  From the historic Gypsy Moth to the futuristic 787 Dreamliner, this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everyone that attended. As expected, many photos were taken while tweets and social media updates were too numerous to count.

Young aviation enthusiasts perform a close inspection of 17L-35R

The first aircraft lands on 17L – 35R on Saturday, June 28, at 2:00 p.m. local time, and YYC as well as many aviation enthusiasts are looking forward to having the new runway officially in operation. Follow Calgary International Airport on Facebook and Twitter (@FlyYYC) to keep up to date with all the latest developments.

Denver International Airport’s Hotel and Transit Center: Building a New Community Connection

by Julie Smith
Public Information Officer
Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport CEO Kim Day signs the beam during the topping out event for DIA's Hotel and Transit Center

Standing atop the new hotel under construction at Denver International Airport (DIA), the view of downtown Denver, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains stretched out before you, it’s easy to see why airport officials are excited about their new addition. Not only will Denver join the ranks of the world’s top airports offering on-site hotel accommodations, the new Hotel and Transit Center program will connect DIA to Denver like never before.

Made up of three integrated projects, the program includes construction of a new 519-room Westin hotel and conference center, a public transit center which includes a commuter rail station and a centralized pick-up and drop-off location for all public transit buses, and a new 82,000 square foot public plaza.

It’s the new public plaza that DIA’s CEO Kim Day is looking forward to the most. “The plaza that we are creating is going to be a great urban space, connecting our new hotel and transit center to our existing Jeppesen Terminal. It will provide a venue for music, art and events, and will create a cultural connection to downtown, better integrating the airport into the community.”

View from the airfield

It was the idea of connectivity that inspired the design of the entire space. From the train platform, it’s just a quick escalator ride to the terminal and easy access to security screening. From the terminal, arriving passengers are just a few hundred feet from the hotel.

Snaking out from the transit center, the tracks of the new East Rail Line stretch toward the horizon. When rail operations begin in early 2016, commuter trains will connect travelers between DIA and downtown Denver in about 35 minutes. The new 22.8 mile rail line also offers opportunities for transit-oriented developments along what’s been dubbed a “Corridor of Opportunity” by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

Close-up view of the DIA Hotel and Transit Center

DIA’s new Hotel and Transit Center is both the final piece of the airport’s original master plan and the first piece of Denver’s Airport City initiative. It completes the original vision for DIA and opens a new chapter for growth around the world’s second largest airport in terms of land mass. Opening in late 2015, DIA’s next chapter is about to take flight.

The New Fort McMurray International Airport: Gateway to Canada’s Oil Sands

by Jesse Meyer
Manager, Marketing, Communications and Air Service Development
Fort McMurray Airport Authority

The new YMM terminal, at the top of this May 2014 photo. The original YMM terminal, at the bottom, will be used for workforce charters, cargo and private aircraft.

Prior to its opening on June 9, the new Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM) set a goal to redefine air travel in terms of convenience and improving the overall customer experience for the nearly 1.2 million passengers who travel through annually. Not only is the new terminal building easier and faster to move through, customers will experience a new level of comfort in our departure lounges and exceptional selection in retail and dining, as well as a sense of place.

The new terminal building is approximately 15,000 square feet the size of approximately two-and-a-half Canadian football fields) and cost $258 million. It includes four aircraft bridges, two baggage carrousels, and more than 2,200 powered parking stalls.

One of the highlights of the new terminal is the concession program. SNC-Lavalin Airport Group was responsible for assembling a world class offering. From gifts and magazines to meals and beverages, YMM will feature 16 retail and food and beverage outlets to serve the full spectrum of needs while travelling. Passengers arriving at the airport looking for a place to eat will be able to choose from a wider selection of food options including two full service restaurants. The new terminal also will feature numerous digital and dynamic advertising screens including a massive 200 square-foot video wall in the arrivals hall.

An Award Winning State-of-the-Art Terminal

Check-in at the new YMM terminal

Northern Alberta has a natural beauty that is distinctive with dense boreal forest, limitless horizons, and the impressive northern lights. The design of the building had to take into account the drastic range of seasonal temperatures from -45°C/-49°F in winter to +35°C/95°F during the summer. This created some unique challenges that have been addressed beautifully in both form and function of this new building designed by the office of mcfarlane biggar architects + designers. Stantec managed the project while Ledcor was responsible for its construction. The design for the new terminal project was named among 11 award winners of the 2013 Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence for embodying qualities of innovation and overall design excellence. The new terminal is designed to serve a modern and forward-thinking community, providing a springboard for the world as well as a welcoming gateway for residents and visitors alike.

The materials used express the drastic contrast of the region. Weathering steel, bitumen-colored metal cladding and unfinished concrete are among the many design features that add to the palette of the industrial landscape. These industrial materials are complemented with refined yet durable materials to polish the interior space using triple glazing, terrazzo flooring, acoustic wood panels and exposed mass timber structure.

This concept of green building practices is evident in a number of innovative features throughout the building design process. The highlights include passive solar orientation, energy optimization, super-insulated building envelope assemblies, in-floor radiant heating, displacement ventilation, and sophisticated heat-recovery systems.

A large south-facing courtyard was developed to give passengers an outdoor area to visit while passively harnessing the sun’s energy to reduce energy consumption throughout the building.

The most noted unique design element is the mass exposed timber assemblies in the ceiling and wall structure. These use reclaimed wood from the devastating pine beetle epidemic in British Columbia to provide both structure and a warm finish to the interior of the building.

Departure lounge in the new YMM terminal

With its focus on passenger comfort and convenience and its ambition to capture the grandeur and beauty of the region it connects to the rest of the world, the new Fort McMurray International Airport will provide an exciting first and last impression for visitors and the Wood Buffalo community and northern Alberta for generations to come.