Airports are unique aviation assets. As with all real estate, a large portion of their value is their location. Loss of a facility like Meigs, pictured above, is irreplaceable. Removed due to the view of some that an airport on the city’s lakefront was a blight and that its highest use should be as a park, the property has become an eyesore.
AOPA’s article reminding the aviation community that all airports may be at risk is an important historical lesson. Here a well-organized and savvy Friends of Meigs plus the uber aviation power, AOPA, fought a battle to save the airport AND they lost.
So how can we minimize the risk that this destruction of a vital aviation infrastructure will not be repeated? There is no magic formula. The Chicago case study shows what should be done, but an insurmountable political force cannot be stopped. Preventative maintenance is a term with which aviation professionals are familiar; so we should practice that discipline as to preserving our landing fields.
Some of the inertia for airport closures comes from FEAR; many people still harbor deep concerns that airports constitute a major locus for accidents. As people who work in the business, offer to speak at community group meetings, schools and other grass root organizations; deliver the impressive statistics that define the current state of aviation safety.
Another frequent source of irritation is NOISE. Operators know how to minimize their impact on the ground during operations; it is far better to choose to follow mitigation techniques than to have them imposed. Information here is a powerful tool, because the enemy is the most subjective sense—sound perception. Address it by showing the noise contour shrinkage over the past 30 years. It is also helpful to explain the noise reduction technology that aviation has brought to its vehicles and show the operational profiles which show how the planes are flying quieter.
As aviation professionals, we oftentimes fail to assert adequately the value of our business. The economic benefits that inure to a community from having an airport should be published regularly. Business people should know how many dollars and jobs come to their cash registers. All too often the information is disseminated when the crisis looms; it is more credible and more proactive when produced regularly.
We were taught as kids not to brag. That reluctance is a hindrance to being able to make the case that aviation is safe and is reducing its noise footprint and is essential for the community’s commerce; that’s not boasting.Share this article: