Category Archives: air traffic control

ACI-NA Launches Edge4Vets at Airports Program

by Kevin M. Burke
ACI-NA President and CEO

This Memorial Day, ACI-NA celebrates the service members who have dedicated their lives to honoring and protecting the United States of America. In my mind, there is no better way to say thank you than to provide veterans with the skills and access necessary to make the transition to the civilian work force.

That’s why I am thrilled to announce the launch of our Edge4Vets at Airports program which aims to translate returning veterans’ military aviation skills to the civilian airport industry. This program, run through Fordham University’s Human Resiliency Institute and funded by the Walmart Foundation through the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families, will begin phase I in New York at JFK and LaGuardia airports. The hope is that this pilot effort will expand across our ACI-NA network to member airports in the United States.

On May 21 Edge4Vets and ACI-NA officially announced this partnership at JFKIAT, and also hosted an informal ‘teach-in’ with young veterans looking to get into the civilian aviation industry and older aviation veterans who have been working the civilian side for many years (pictured at left). The event boasted 50 participants, including 25 veterans from a half-dozen schools and 25 airport mentors from Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue and Hudson Group.

For me, the ‘teach-in’ solidified the genuine interest returning service members have about working in our industry and affirms my commitment, as a CEO of a leading association in one of the United States’ top industries, to make sure we reach out to veterans about the opportunities in U.S. aviation.

Edge4Vets at Airports will be working with ACI-NA’s Human Resources Committee to train returning service members in four separate workshops, all of which will take place at airports to maximize veterans’ exposure to the facilities and employees. While we are just in the initial stages, the goal is to expand to member airports around the country, using our HR network and capitalizing on the Edge4Vets program infrastructure.

We’re fortunate that airports represent a wide variety of skills and career opportunities that match well to the types of training and skills service members already possess, and ACI-NA is proud to take this next step with this Edge4Vets at Airports program. As the nation’s military commitments return to peacetime readiness and more veterans are looking to return to civilian life, we are preparing to welcome our returning heroes with exciting career opportunities.

Edge4Vets at Airports is led by its founder, Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. The Walmart Foundation, through Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, provided the grant to develop the plan for Edge4Vets at Airports. Edge4Vets will conduct a campaign to raise funds to implement the plan as a pilot in New York and then expand the program nationally to airports across the U.S. Edge4Vets will be working with Goodwill Industries “Operation: Good Jobs” program on this project.

National Alliance to Advance NextGen — Supporters Wanted

By Jane Calderwood
Ed Knoesel from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey gave a brief presentation this morning at the US Government Affairs Committee asking airports to consider joining the National Alliance to Advance NextGenKnoesel pointed out that a serious ground delays in New York today ripples throughout the system impacting thousands of passengers and implementation of NextGen will help the health of our economy by minimizing delays and dealing with increased air traffic.

The alliance is asking for support in two forms:

  • Joining the Alliance
  • Local and state proclamations in support of NextGen.

Knoesel provided a draft resolution that works with everyone from the local city council to the governor.   The proclamation states that “Implementing nextgen technologies is a national issue and should be expedited to the benefit of the traveling public, the aviation industry, and our local, state and national economies.”

The alliance has been told by the aviation staff in Congress that they want “stacks of proclamations” from the state government on down.  The proclamations will be sent to Congress at the beginning of next year.

Eno Transportation Foundation Report on NextGen

By Channon Hanna

This week, the Eno Transportation Foundation held an event at the Bipartisan Policy Center to release their report titled “NextGen:  Aligning Costs, Benefits and Political Leadership”.  The event was attended by many representatives of the aviation industry, as well as a number of former Department of Transportation Secretaries and FAA Administrators, all of whom expressed their support for expediting NextGen implementation.

The Eno report discusses NextGen benefits, including those to commercial aviation and general aviation.  It quantifies potential fuel savings, delay costs saving, and safety benefits.  The report also discusses the costs associated with NextGen implementation, including infrastructure costs such as those costs associated with installing ADS-B, communications equipment, and computer systems associated with En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM).  In addition to the infrastructure costs, the report details equipage costs for both commercial and general aviation and explains that if commercial and general aviation fleets do not equip their aircraft then the real benefits to NextGen will not be realized.

Finally, the report details the funding issues with NextGen and describes some potential options for both lawmakers and industry stakeholders to consider.  The report notes that NextGen is currently funded out of the airport and airway trust fund (AATF).  As airports know very well, the AATF has had to rely on larger contributions from the general fund in recent years than ever before, and while the current FAA Reauthorization bill has authorized NextGen funding at $2.7 billion for the next four years, NextGen is still subject to annual appropriations which causes instability in trying to move forward with funding NextGen infrastructure.   The report points out that there is no funding mechanism that is directly linked to NextGen, and explores several funding options that could be available for NextGen— pointing out that the industry must consider whether these options are politically feasible— and that any revenue source for NextGen must be practical in the current political environment.  The report explores the potential for NextGen to be funded by:  applying the ticket tax to baggage fees; increasing the jet fuel tax; increasing the ticket tax; a separate NextGen user fee; funding NextGen through general tax funds; and privatization of air traffic control.

A panel of representatives from various government and aviation stakeholders discussed the report’s findings as well as how the political landscape impacts NextGen funding and implementation.  The panel agreed that there needs to be a focus on how the entire system is funded and how the benefits of the system should be tied to the costs of the system.

As the panel discussion was winding down, former DOT Secretary Norm Mineta, who was there listening to the discussion, stood up and expressed his frustration with the current political leadership.  He stated that he believes there is no real political leadership on transportation issues.  He went on to say that “transportation has become a ho-hum subject” and that our politicians need to see that “other countries are not taking their foot off the pedal when it comes to infrastructure investment”.  He expressed his concern over the fact that the American public no longer understands the difference between spending for investment and spending for consumption.  He concluded by urging the aviation and transportation stakeholders to educate their Congressional delegations and their communities about the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure.  Secretary Mineta’s comments are especially fitting for the airport industry as we embark on our new financial policy campaign and grassroots campaign which began with an airport economic impact study and roll out of the website airportsforthefuture.org.

NextGen Could Lead to Huge Cost Savings

By Matt Griffin
Tuesday concluded with a hot session on NextGen.  Denver International Airport Director Kim Day emphasized that all airports play an important role in the development and implementation of NextGen capabilities.  Discussion among session participants Tim Stall (United Airlines), Dennis Roberts (FAA), and Bill Colligan (ITT) focused on the operational safety and efficiency benefits of surface management systems, next generation flight procedures, and modernized air traffic rules.

Day discussed how important recent airspace redesign efforts and surface management implementation has been to Denver operations.  Stall and Roberts emphasized the opportunities that airports have to develop NextGen solutions in collaboration with the FAA and airlines.  ACI-NA continues to be very active in NextGen development and will be planning future sessions and encourages ACI-NA members and World Business Partners to join the NextGen Working Group.  Contact ACI-NA’s Chris Oswald for more information.

FAA Shutdown Impact: Houston

By Mario C. Diaz, Director of Aviation

Thanks to the efforts of a great many people, we have averted an extended FAA shutdown through the peak of the construction season.  During the two-week limited FAA operations, Houston faced the immediate cessation of work on our new TRACON facility and an installation project for runway status lights — both key projects.  Once completed, our new TRACON will control air traffic over 16,000 square miles of airspace, handling 900,000 individual aircraft operations.  The state-of-the-art equipment will facilitate implementation of NextGen technologies, further securing Houston’s position as one of the world’s safest, secure and accessible airport destinations.  The new facility is the product of a decade of planning by both the FAA and Congress, and it was very troubling to see the construction site go silent as the shutdown occurred. It’s in the public’s interest for airport infrastructure projects to move forward.

In addition to concerns over ongoing projects and the impact on workers, the considerable uncertainty regarding restoration of full FAA operations gave us grave concerns about the potential impact of a long term shutdown, (including about damage to the aviation trust fund). We are relieved and appreciate the recent action for the extension bill.  I can’t thank our Congressional delegation enough for their stellar support and their efforts to help bring this about, and I’m especially proud and appreciative of Houston Mayor, Annise Parker, for her impressive leadership to secure a resolution.

However, the events that led to the shutdown and what they portend for the future are especially troubling.  Knowing that the contentious issues related to long term FAA authorization remain, we are very concerned that in just a few weeks we may be back to the situation we faced a few weeks ago.  It’s essential that we all keep up communications with our respective Congressional delegations and urge them to make passage of a long term reauthorization bill a top priority when they return to Washington after Labor Day – after all, there will be only a few days remaining before the recently passed extension expires.  Given the advance planning requirements that are a fact of life at airports, we cannot go on functioning efficiently and effectively when funding availability is always in crisis mode.  I hope that all airports will join me and ACI-NA in helping to push through a long term bill when Congress returns.

Achieving that would give us some short term relief and some breathing room.  It’s clear a new world order has arrived. We’d better start dealing with the current and future realities.  Most importantly, airports need to start taking greater charge of their own financial destinies, in recognition that whatever happens in Congress, we cannot assume that adequate federal funding will be available.  The writing is on the wall; if anyone needed further evidence of that, the recent downgrade of the United States’ credit provides certain proof.

Where do we go from here?  How do we achieve true self-sustainability?  It won’t happen overnight. We need to start planning for it now.   It’s essential that everyone understands and appreciates the critical role that airports play in the local, regional, national and international economies.

In Houston, our three airports are responsible for nearly 231,000 jobs and have an economic impact on our region of $27 billion.  But how often do you hear a (non-airport) person talk about how much they appreciate the opportunities that airports create?  Overall, airlines have done a better job than have airports in helping people understand the value they create – want to visit the Caribbean for some R&R? XYZ airline will take you there. Want that package there overnight?  XYZ express carrier will have it delivered in the morning.  But those trips could not take place without the extraordinary facilities that airports (and our terrific employees) provide – and those facilities also create jobs, help send construction workers home with paychecks, support small businesses, and send ripples of economic benefits locally, regionally, nationally and globally.

In Houston, our airports are truly a gateway to the world for passengers, shippers and the global business marketplace – from just IAH alone nearly 175 international and domestic destinations are reachable nonstop – the options available are extraordinary.  Our metropolitan area is so large that if it were a state it would rank as the nation’s 19th largest. Houston’s region’s GDP is larger than that of 85 percent of the world’s countries.  It’s in significant part because we are a dynamic global gateway that Houston and Texas are leading the nation’s economic recovery.  As the fastest growing metro area, we are blessed with the nation’s largest employment gains; the highest retail employment growth since the recession; more manufacturing jobs; and the highest level of entrepreneurial activity. We’re located at the heart of a state that ranks #1 in multiple economic indicators, including most new jobs, the largest increase in population, and the strongest economy.  Our airports are essential players in enabling the global reach of our community and in these strong economic indicators.

And, large or small, to a degree every airport in the country also serves as that essential gateway to the world. It’s time we spread that message and enhanced the overall understanding of just how critical airports are to the health and growth of our communities and our economies.  Houston is here to support all other gateways as the largest hub for the largest airline in the world and our nation’s airports depend on each other to connect the traveling public.

America needs to start looking differently at the degree of allowing airports to control their own funding.  Airports have long labored under burdensome restrictions that hinder our ability to achieve true financial self-sufficiency.  We all understand the need for certain restrictions, and of course safety must always be paramount.  If future federal funding is severely limited; we need to have the tools to have more local control over our own affairs.  We need to preserve the aviation trust fund and ensure that it is used effectively.  We need to revisit the fundamentals of our relationships with the federal government.  We need to forge new partnerships with our airline colleagues and our investors and contractors.  We need to restructure and enhance our options on airport privatization, and create a new vision that fits into and benefits from our new world order.  Our nation is in crisis and our airports have a key role to play in jump-starting the recovery.  For that we’ll need an effective Congress, a robust FAA, long term reauthorization, and plenty of creativity on the part of airports.

Let’s all work hard in the coming weeks to get long term reauthorization addressed effectively and quickly, and let’s also start devoting our energies to a new airport vision for the future.