Category Archives: Committees

Committee Blogs

Up, Up, and Away: Hudson Group Finds that Millenial Travel Is on the Rise

We live in a digital world. Truth be told, I’m never more than a few feet away from my smartphone. It’s amazing how one small device can do so much to keep us organized and connected in every aspect of our lives.

The smart phone has even taken on the role of travel agent. Exciting new domestic and global destinations are accessible through Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. With a few taps, I can log into my airline’s app and book my airfare in minutes. In Atlanta, Miami, and Seattle, I can use my smartphone to clear customs. At some airports, I can even arrange for Uber or Lyft to pick me up, all without missing a beat.

More and more members of my generation are harnessing this digital power to travel. In fact, millennials are traveling more than any other generation according to the Hudson Group’s latest 2015 travel trends infographic.


As an aviation newbie, I’m quickly learning how eager airports are to embrace mobile technology to enhance the travel experience. You can read about some of the latest airport mobile trends in ACI-NA’s latest issue of Centerlines.

Millennials like me are looking for an easy airport experience. We want airports to provide us with the ability to use digital boarding passes, access free (and fast!) wifi, and order a taxi from our phones. While most airports are working to progress with technology, figuring out how to do so and what’s next is no easy task.

That’s why ACI-NA is excited about our upcoming Business of Airports Conference this April 20 – 22 in Phoenix, AZ. The entire conference designed to help airports think about “what’s next” and how to get there. Through networking and interactive sessions, airport decision makers and innovative concessionaires and service providers will have the opportunity to discuss and discover the different ways to embrace technology in the airport environment. Mobile trends will at the core of the conference agenda as we explore non-aeronautical revenue and infrastructure considerations, including in depth discussions on ride-booking apps and more.

Mimi Ryals
Communications and Marketing Coordinator

Airports and Wildlife: Why Doesn’t the Today Show Present the Full Story?

“Why don’t more airports use radar to prevent dangerous bird strikes?” blared the headline from a segment that aired on yesterday’s broadcast of Today (February 19). Although the reporter in the piece never provided an answer to this question, he did charge ahead in pursuit of an agenda that implied U.S. airports aren’t committed to safety. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The report ignored the work that thousands of airport professionals do to mitigate wildlife hazards every day and the millions of dollars that they invest every year on fencing, habitat management, wildlife harassment, and wildlife monitoring activities, all of which have been effective in reducing wildlife hazards at our nation’s airports. The report also sidestepped any mention of significant wildlife hazard management requirements that the FAA has on the books. These include conducting wildlife hazard assessments and developing, implementing, and regularly updating comprehensive wildlife hazard management plans. These plans and the resources airports dedicate to implementing them provide concrete evidence of how seriously airports take wildlife hazards.

Although avian radar systems can be components of such plans, many airports have found that other hazard mitigations provide greater safety benefits and address their specific wildlife management challenges most effectively. These decisions have been made by highly trained professionals at our airports—including qualified wildlife biologists—based on data, detailed assessment of wildlife hazards, and understandings of their local airports’ circumstances. (That’s certainly the engineer in me talking, which I’m sure doesn’t make for a good soundbite.)

Airport professionals are called upon to make decisions about the technologies, processes, procedures, and capital investments that will produce the best safety outcomes given available resources, be those people, money, or time. Yet at the same time, airports have been unnecessarily constrained in terms of how they can finance these solutions.  Specifically, we’ve seen Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding decrease and the purchasing power of its companion funding mechanism, the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) user fee, decline by half over time even as new, promising safety technologies like avian radar have emerged.

The Today reporter did acknowledge that avian radar is expensive at the conclusion of his segment, but his insinuation that individual airports just don’t want to foot the bill at the expense of safety is a simplistic and dangerous misrepresentation.  Introducing new legislation to require the use of avian radar at all U.S. airports would only create a yet another unfunded mandate for airports.  Instead, the smarter solution would be for Congress to implement common-sense reforms to airport funding mechanisms that ensure they both provide sustainable and secure support to maintain our current airport system and invest in new and emerging technologies like avian radar.

Ultimately, though, why not focus on all the important elements that make up managing wildlife hazards at airports instead of making ill-informed assumptions? I’ve got some ideas, but am guessing they don’t make for good TV.

Chris Oswald
Vice President, Safety and Regulatory Affairs

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: SFO Takes the LEED in Environmentally Friendly Design

by Emily Sing
Engineer, Environmental Services and Sustainability
San Francisco International Airport

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been at SFO for 2 years now. I look back to the first day I started and remember asking myself, “How am I going to get myself up to speed on all the environmental programs going on here?” My solution was to just jump in, and that’s exactly what I did. From day one (okay, maybe day two), I realized that the work at SFO goes beyond regulatory compliance. We really strive to make a difference, and although this might sound corny, I really believe every day at SFO is Earth Day.

Our mission is “to provide an exceptional Airport in service to our communities.” And that includes all our local neighboring communities, which is why we strive to minimize our environmental impact everywhere we can. That is definitely not an easy task, even for a progressive airport like SFO.  I am fortunate to have airport leadership vested in sustainability and a team that is not afraid to push the envelope. We celebrate successes when the whole organization pitches in.

Right before I joined the airport, SFO opened T2 which became the first LEED Gold certified terminal in the US, and since then, every future construction project has been designed to achieve LEED Gold.  But the innovation didn’t stop there.  Later this year, we will open a new airfield operations facility (AOF) which is also designed to achieve LEED Gold and will be the airport’s first-ever net-zero energy facility, generating as much energy as it uses. The AOF is designed to be 50 percent more energy efficient than the ASHRAE standard, taking advantage of energy efficiencies that go beyond conventional design approaches.

Some of the key features of the AOF building include a high-performance building envelope, a solar tube lighting system and glazed perimeter walls which bring natural light deep into work spaces.  The dynamic perimeter glazing adjusts automatically as solar conditions change. Combined with high-efficiency, low-maintenance LED lighting and adjustable lighting controls, the design drastically reduces electricity use.  Other features include individual control of ventilation systems, low-flow plumbing fixtures and native California plantings that require no irrigation. To achieve net-zero, 72 kW of solar panels will be installed on the roof of the building.

SFO has established itself as an international industry leader in sustainability.  We take our role as an environmental steward seriously, challenging the SFO team to implement proactive and innovative projects like T2 and the AOF. I invite you to come visit our facilities when you fly into SFO and see for yourself.