Category Archives: Airport management

ACI-NA Puts Airport Priorities at Forefront in Infrastructure Week

Note: This blog was originally published on May 15 in Aviation Daily.

By Kevin M. Burke
Since joining Airports Council International – North America in January as its new President and CEO, I have spent the last few months meeting with airport stakeholders and policy makers all around North America.  I went into this listening tour with my ears and mind open about the current and future challenges facing airports and their role in supporting our economy.

One of the needs I routinely heard – and one of my main goals for ACI-NA – comes back to the need to modernize infrastructure and our ability to advance airport priorities through the use of broad coalitions.  As a lifelong advocate, I know that participating in coalitions provides voices with a greater platform to share their unique perspective within a context that can spur action.

This week marks the second annual “Infrastructure Week,” a week-long celebration of the vast network that supports – and moves – the U.S. economy.  Endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Brookings Institute, and others including President Barack Obama, Infrastructure Week provides those in the transportation sector with a valuable opportunity to educate Congress and the American public about the important role infrastructure plays in creating U.S. jobs and growing our economy.

The aviation community is well aware that surface transportation currently is in the legislative spotlight.  But that doesn’t mean aviation infrastructure issues need to take a back seat this week.  In fact, now is an ideal opportunity to truly start gathering momentum ahead of next year’s Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

During Infrastructure Week 2014, we at ACI-NA will be working across the infrastructure and transportation community to share the industry’s important perspective.  Our baseline message is simple and clear: airports are a fundamental component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

With more than 700 million passengers and 27 million metric tons of cargo traveling in and out of the United States through an airport each year, airports make a tremendous contribution to U.S. GDP—more than $1.2 trillion—and employ more than 1.2 million people.  Those are not numbers policy makers can ignore, and we at ACI-NA will not let them.

In order to ensure that our airports and commercial aviation sector continue to lead the world, we need to get serious about investing in our future.  That is exactly why ACI-NA is proud to participate in Infrastructure Week 2014.

Last year, we conducted a broad survey across North American airports to assess the current and future needs of airports as they are called upon to meet increases in passenger and cargo traffic.  We were able to identify $71.3 billion in infrastructure improvements needed by 2017 to meet strong growth projections in both passenger and cargo activity and the need to update aging infrastructure.  U.S. airports expect the number of domestic passengers alone to surpass one billion enplanements within the next 15 years, and their greatest challenge currently is obtaining the financial resources that will allow them to successfully tackle these infrastructure needs.

Airports need additional funding, and the primary source of this funding—particularly for our large hub airports—is the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC).  The PFC’s maximum of $4.50 per segment, however, has not been raised since 2000, which has reduced its purchasing power by roughly half.  To put it another way: the longer the PFC’s purchasing power continues to be stalled the more expensive necessary capital improvement projects become.

The investment we make in airports will help further bolster our economy by bringing growth to other sectors, including travel, tourism, and global commerce.  If we allow U.S. infrastructure to continue to age without new investment, we will fall behind.  Any lag in our economic growth because of an outdated infrastructure jeopardizes our competitiveness in the global market.

The world is growing more global each day.  In an increasingly competitive global market, we must be able to successfully meet capacity demands with the safe, efficient, and modern facilities that passengers and cargo shippers expect.  Modernizing the way we finance airport improvement projects is essential for airports to meet these needs, all while creating U.S. jobs and growing our economy.  I look forward to working with my transportation colleagues to make that happen.

BWI Supports Tourism, Business—and Horse Racing

by Jonathan Dean
Manager, Division of Communications
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

On the third Saturday of each May, the thoroughbred horse racing world turns to the historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes.  The middle jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness is the largest single-day sporting event in the State of Maryland.  According to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, a crowd of more than 117,000 enjoyed the 138th running of the Preakness in 2013.  For Baltimore and the State of Maryland, the Preakness is an important opportunity to highlight the local horse industry, hospitality, and tourist attractions to a national and international audience.

H.E. Tex Sutton's "Air Horse One" touches down at BWI ahead of the Preakness Stakes

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport plays a role each May in supporting the Preakness.  In the days before the race, horses are flown from Louisville, Lexington, and other markets to BWI.  Experienced, professional horse handlers from the H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Co.use a specially-modified Boeing 727 aircraft to fly the horses safely and quickly to Baltimore.  Corporate jets and other general aviation aircraft fly to BWI for the weekend festivities.  Commercial flights bring additional visitors to Baltimore for the race and other Preakness-related activities.

Preakness competitors enjoy an in-flight meal

Other Maryland airports play an important role, too.  Business jets use Martin State Airport as a quick gateway to Pimlico.  General aviation airports throughout the state support additional flights, and even host a blimp that is used during the television broadcast of the Preakness.

As part of a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system, BWI and airports across Maryland help ensure the quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors.  And each May, these airports support the Preakness and the important horse racing industry in Maryland.

Heading out from BWI to Pimlico

Earth Week 2014: Wildlife Management at YVR: Birds with Jobs

by David Bradbeer
Wildlife Program Specialist
Vancouver Airport Authority

Safety and security is at the heart of Vancouver International Airport’s operations. An essential part of our mandate is ensuring the safe and efficient movement of aircraft and passengers to and from our airport, and that’s why we have a comprehensive wildlife management program in place.

Given our location along the Pacific Flyway, Sea Island is home to several local bird species, as well as a popular stopover for flocks of migratory birds heading south or north, depending on the season. The proximity of feathered birds to metal birds poses a serious risk to aviation safety. To combat potential bird strikes, our wildlife program consists of four components: monitoring, habitat management, movement of birds through harassment techniques and, where there is a perceived safety risk to aviation, killing of birds.

One relatively new element of our habitat management and bird movement plan is the use of trained raptors. We use falcons, hawks and – new this year – eagles to scare away hazardous bird species from the airfield. Bird species that pose a significant risk to aviation safety include flocking shorebirds like dunlin and geese.

To ensure that we use trained raptors as effectively as possible, we have teamed up with Pacific Northwest Raptors, whose professional falconers “fly” the trained raptors. The newest member of our raptor family is Hercules, a captive-raised juvenile bald eagle, whose job is to chase ducks and snow geese away from the active airfield.

When not being flown on the airfield, Hercules and his colleagues make their home in a specially-designed cage or mews. Local Burkeville neighbours may hear some noise coming from the mews:  this is the raptors begging for food from their handlers. Hercules in particular is quite vocal, but this behavior is normal.

Another group of raptors on Sea Island are not as welcome as Hercules and his trained falcon friends. Wild raptors such as red-tailed hawks, barn owls, coopers hawks and peregrine falcons are difficult to control and typically resist attempts to scare or harass them away from the airfield. To ensure these birds do not come into contact with aircraft, we use an Environment Canada-approved trap and relocation program. Once trapped, a certified master bander affixes a band or tag to the bird for identification. Tagged birds are relocated and released in Chilliwack within 36 hours of capture. In 2013, the wildlife team managed to trap, band and relocate 96 raptors. This is a very important component of our wildlife management and airfield safety program.

For more on YVR’s wildlife management program, check out my post on the YVR blog.  You can also watch a video to learn how our wildlife team uses specially trained border collies to keep YVR’s airfield safe:

Puppies from YVR Media Relations on Vimeo.

Earth Week 2014: Commemorating Earth Day… Does It Still Matter?

by Cynthia Parker
Environmental Coordinator
City of Phoenix Aviation Department

Yesterday was the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, and it’s now 43 years after the inauguration of the Environmental Protection Agency and 45 years since the Cuyahoga River fire brought national attention to water pollution in the U.S.  With these landmarks in mind, does Earth Day still matter or are we “done”?

As U.S. and Canadian airport environmental representatives met last week in Baltimore to share information  (and as the deadline for this blog loomed) it occurred to me that my fellow attendees,  these “airport environmental experts” sitting around me, have dedicated their careers and considerable talents to understanding and reducing the impacts of airports and the aviation industry on the environment.

We have successfully collaborated over the last decades with business partners and governmental agencies to reduce aircraft noise, deleterious runoff to local water bodies, improved air quality, and instituted practices that have reduced the more immediate impacts of aviation on the environment.  Well done!

Now that these programs have been set in place, we see that national and global focus is on resources – energy generation, fuels, upper atmospheric gas composition, and water as a resource.  I consider this the highest form of “conservatism” – to create and support a robust and healthy economy, peoples and ecology.

Here at Phoenix Sky Harbor, we are embarking on a major terminal modernization project. Discussions of U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards, building energy modeling during the design and enhanced commissioning to reduce long term costs are met with hardly an eye blink!  We are also mid-way in developing a sustainability management plan where the next steps to our conservation goals and practices will be vetted.

I hope we will all use the perhaps-not-so-dated concept of Earth Day to reaffirm our commitment to the natural world on which we all depend.

Earth Week 2014: Earth Day is Every Day for Our #GreenAirports

by Kevin M. Burke
President and CEO

While airports are committed to advancing sustainability and the environment year-round, we carve out some special times to mark accomplishments and celebrate environmental excellence. This week is one of those times.

The ACI-NA Environmental Affairs Committee just finished its Spring Conference jointly with ACI-NA’s Business Information Technology and Public Safety & Security committees in Baltimore ― a triple play that speaks to the sustainability-related synergies shared by all our airport business lines. The trio of conferences focused on such sustainability topics as airport business continuity planning, developing wireless networks for the future, and efficient wildlife management technologies.

The Environmental Spring Conference highlighted the vision of a “sustainable airport system” being advanced by the Environmental Affairs Committee and its incoming chair Phil Ralston, general manager of aviation environmental and safety at Portland International Airport. This vision explores the issues, conditions and factors that go beyond environmental matters and outlines the responsibility ACI-NA has for creating a sustainable airport system.

Today’s green airport supports a wide variety of triple-bottom line initiatives, from advanced stormwater detention systems and use of alternative energy systems to power airport operations and reduce emissions, to development of wildlife management areas and community arts programs on airport property.  A sampling of these sustainability advances is being featured in guest blog posts this week from airports in both the U.S. and Canada, and I hope you check back in to discover an exciting array of Earth-friendly initiatives.

Also, there’s still time to enter submissions for the 2014 ACI-NA Environmental Achievement Awards. The Committee is expanding the awards program to recognize an individual for the Outstanding Individual Contribution and Leadership award in addition to the Achievement Awards for airport projects. The deadline is next Thursday, May 1.

Green initiatives like these are under way every day at airports across North America, illustrating that Airports for the Future understand, and practice, the key drivers of the triple bottom line – economic, environment and community sustainability.