Monthly Archives: August 2010

Portland International Jetport Is A Growing Concern

By Jane Calderwood
While in Maine last week, I went to visit Paul Bradbury, Director of the Portland International Jetport (PWM).  Having worked closely with PWM in the mid-90s during their last major expansion project (while working for Maine Senator Olympia Snowe), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get a first hand look at the $75 million expansion effort that is well underway.   Paul reminded me that in the 15 years since the last expansion, Portland’s usage has gone up more than 60 percent!

Prep work for the terminal expansion.

The terminal expansion (137,000 square feet) will nearly double the size of the existing building, provide three new gates and allow them to double the number of security lines (from 4 to 8).  The new gates are needed in order for Portland to be able to attract new carriers, so they can continue to provide a variety of schedule and fare options to the 1.8 million passengers who pass through the jetport annually.  The roadway to the terminal is being reconfigured and when complete will provide separate approaches to the terminal for arriving and departing passengers.   Finally, the expansion will give Bradbury the room to install an inline baggage handling system, which was purchased using the $9.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding they received from the Department of Homeland Security.

Work underway on the geothermal heating system for the expanded terminal.

Construction is also underway on a $3 million geothermal project that is estimated to reduce oil consumption at PWM by more than 100,000 gallons per year, which in turn will reduce energy costs by an estimated 80 percent.  The Federal Aviation Administration provided $2.5 million through a Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) grant for the project.  Once completed, 500 gallons of fluid per minute will circulate through 11 miles of plastic tubing to heat and cool the new terminal addition.  The project is expected to pay for itself within three years through energy savings.

As if there weren’t enough hardhats to be seen at PWM, they are also in the process of completing work on a de-icing fluid recapture facility which will recycle used aircraft deicing fluid.  The funding for this project, $2.138 million, also came from the stimulus bill.

The new de-icing fluid recapture facility will enable the fluid to be recycled.

Bradbury estimates that directly and indirectly the jetport supports more than 11,500 jobs and contributes $860 million to the regional economy.  The expanded terminal, the cost conscious new energy source and the environmentally friendly deicing facility should serve as a reminder to Southern Maine that the Portland International Jetport takes it role as a key economic driver seriously.

WV Aviation Conference a High-Flying Success

It’s summer – the time of year for country fairs and state aviation conferences. On Monday, I was honored to speak at the West Virginia Aviation Conference, while ACI-NA president Greg Principato spoke at the Florida Airports Conference.

Senator Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, was unable to attend the conference in person, but he did send a welcome message emphasizing the importance of aviation in West Virginia. Impressive numbers – more than$3 billion in revenues and approximately 50,000 jobs directly or indirectly driven by aviation. He also provided an update on FAA reauthorization, indicating he was “annoyed” at those who are advancing “parochial issues” preventing the bill from moving forward. However, Senator Rockefeller was pleased that the airline safety provisions were enacted as part of the legislation (H.R. 5900) extending FAA reauthorization until September 30.

The conference was well attended with many very informative speakers, including my friends and colleagues Lisa Picionne of NBAA and Henry Ogrodzinski of NASAO.  It was also great to hear from Mike Boyd from Boyd Group International, who encouraged the airports to consider “air service access, airline alliances, regional gateways and global connectivity”, rather than only focusing on air service development.

The entrance to Greenbrier Valley Airport in Lewisburg, WV.

My presentation focused on proposed regulations and advisory circulars affecting airports. I emphasized that there is no cumulative assessment of the growing regulatory burden on the industry, nor understanding of the fact that airport revenues are down. The bottom line is that there is a limited amount of airport and federal money available to pay for new rules and ACI-NA will continue to submit comments protecting the interests of the airport industry. However, it was a pleasure to announce that the problem statement ACI-NA submitted to ACRP on behalf of our Small Airports Committee, “Analysis of Cumulative Cost Associated with Regulatory Compliance and its Impact on Small Airport Viability” was accepted (03-25) as one of the approved 2011 projects.

The conference also provided a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Rick Atkinson, Director of Yeager Airport and to meet Jerry O’Sullivan, Manager of Greenbrier Valley Airport. While I was unable to attend the tour of the Greenbrier Airport conducted as part of the Conference agenda, I did go by on my way home and was impressed at the terminal improvement program (both interior and exterior) that is just about completed. Also the upgrades to the passenger screening checkpoint- in total a $4 million project.

It was also great to see Susan Chernenko, who does a fabulous job as Director of the West Virginia DOT Aeronautics Commission. The State Aeronautics Commission held one of their quarterly meetings following the conference and I was fortunate to meet two members of the Commission –  Chairman Eldon Haught and Richard Wachtel. Both gentlemen were well informed about state and national aviation issues and it was a pleasure to talk with them.

I was sorry that I could not stay longer at the conference and hear presentations from Kate Lang, FAA Acting Associate Administrator for Airports, Gael Sullivan, Senior Professional Staff for the Senate Aviation Subcommittee and Sherry Wallace, Roanoke Airport’s Manager of Marketing and Air Service. I am sure they all provided great information for the attendees and helped contribute to the success of what appeared to me to be a very successful conference.

Update on FY 2011 Appropriations Bills

By Channon Hanna

Last week, the Senate adjourned for August recess after the Appropriations Committee approved 9 of the 12 fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations bills, including the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Department of Homeland Security bills. Only the Defense, Interior, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills have not been approved by the Senate Committee. Unfortunately, the full Senate has not acted on any of these bills.

The House Appropriations Committee has only approved 2 of the 12 appropriations bills, both of which have also been approved by the full House. The House has passed the FY 2011 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

Key provisions of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration is funded at $16.5 billion, which represents a slight increase over the FY 2010 enacted level.
  • The Airport Improvement Program was level funded at $3.5 billion, the same amount appropriated for FY 2010.
  • $1.16 billion is specifically slated for NextGen.
  • The Facilities and Equipment account receives $3 billion, which is $63 million higher than the FY 2010 enacted level.
  • The bill continues to include language that would require airports, as a condition of AIP funding, to post air passenger rights signs in non-revenue generating area at the request of the Department of Transportation.
  • The bill does not fund the Small Community Air Service Development Program.

It is becoming increasingly unlikely that Congress will be able to complete its work on all of the appropriations bills before the current fiscal year ends on September 30. There is a general consensus that in September, Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution to ensure funding for the federal government. This will leave the funding of the federal government up to the lame duck Congress, after the mid-term elections in November.

On Again-Off Again-On Again: New Hope of Senate Action on AMT Exemption

By: Annie Russo

When Congress comes back into session next month, all eyes will be on the Senate as there is a long list of bills they have yet to consider.  One of those issues gaining significant attention is the need to extend expiring tax provisions, including the extension of the relief of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) on private activity bonds.  According to Congressional Quarterly Today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said that he intends to hold a markup on tax legislation while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that he will bring a tax package to the floor in September.

Senator Harry Reid will try to muster the votes needed to pass a tax extenders package.

At the center of the controversy are the expiring tax provisions for individuals making $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000 from the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that were signed into law during the Bush Administration.  In remarks made before the Center for American Progress, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that extending those cuts would “hurt” the economic recovery.  Geithner made it clear that the Obama Administration did not support extending the cuts for the top 2% wage earners even on a temporary basis.  However, Republicans  and some senior Senate Democrats disagree.  Until Reid can get a consensus to garner the 60 votes needed for cloture, the disagreement over the extension of these specific provisions may quell Reid’s plans of bringing a tax package to the floor before the election.

The House has passed two bills that included the AMT exemption of the bonds, but the Senate has not acted on either piece of legislation.  It is widely expected that Congress will pass tax legislation to address many of the expiring tax provisions before the end of the year, but the question of timing remains.  If the Senate fails at passing something in September then a tax extenders package will have to wait for the Lame Duck session expected after the elections.

If the Senate Democratic Leadership sees passing a tax extenders package as important to the November elections and can muster 60 votes, Majority Leader Reid will look to pass something, even if it is a relatively small package that does not address all the expiring issues.  If polls show later this month and in early September that tax legislation is not important to voters, watch for this issue to be punted until after the elections.  Either way, there will likely be a showdown in the Senate over the tax extenders package pitting the Administration and top Senate Democrats against Republicans and several centrist Democrats.

Alaska Airlines Evaluates Pulsed Landing Lights to Mitigate Bird Hazards

At a recent meeting of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, Linda Chism of Alaska Airlines described their evaluation of pulsed wingtip landing lights to mitigate bird hazards.

Between Oct. 2008 and Oct. 2009, Alaska Airlines experienced 309 bird strikes. These strikes were reported by flight crews on walk-around, by mechanics or by pilots as in-flight incidents. She reported that even if there is no damage, a fuselage strike can cause a 1 ½ hour delay for inspection, debris removal and required paperwork write up. Engine strike inspections can take 5 hours for borescope inspection and can be much more disruptive if the airplane is at a station not equipped for borescope inspection or engine replacement. Of the 309 strikes, 263 required only clean up and documentation, 16 caused damage (3 of which were noted in flight) and one caused a Rejected Take Off. These strikes cost $1.6 million in delays and inspections, not counting replacement engines or repair costs.

Alaska Airlines hopes to reduce geese traffic with pulsing lights.

Alaska collaborated with Qantas Airlines, who had been experimenting with pulsed landing lights as a possible way of dispersing birds at low altitudes. The technique involves circuitry changes to pulse the outboard wing landing lights from bright to dim approximately 46 times a minute while the airplane is below 18,000 feet. The Qantas experience indicated that the technique resulted in a 30-50% reduction in bird strikes.

The pulsed lights have been evaluated by FAA at the Atlantic City test center and are also being studied by the USDA. Alaska is seeking FAA and airframe manufacturers’ assistance in making the pulsed lights standard on new aircraft, speeding up the Technical Standard Order process for retrofitting existing aircraft and accelerating research on avian vision tied to landing light design.

For further information contact Dick Marchi (rmarchi@aci-na.org).