Two different Initiatives to Advance Airport Infrastructure should be paralleled by Sophisticated SMS Implementation

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ARTICLE 1: New chief to plot airport’s future

ARTICLE 2: New group lobbies for New York airport improvements

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Airports are much underappreciated assets. All too often national leaders, like the FAA Administrator, are compelled to be the primary, if not sole, advocates of their creation, expansion and protection. The above articles disprove this general rule of airport appreciation; they are also the Alpha and Omega of these facilities.

On the small end of the scale, Zephyrhills Municipal Airport (shown here) is being touted as essential to the Pasco, WA economic development (Pasco was the terminus for the 1st flight of Varney Airlines [predecessor to United] in 1926). The airport manager quoted an academic as follows:

“Airports will shape business location and urban development in this century as much as highways did in the 20th, railroads in the 19th and seaports did in the 18th centuries.”

Mr. Handrahan added a number of statistics that demonstrate the value of even a small general aviation facility to a community. The new airport manager made a great case for developing the airport.

The second article announces a NYC area based group, the Global Gateway Alliance, to promote the region’s three major airports serving that megalopolis. The leaders are impressive — Joseph Spinnato, president of the Hotel Association of New York City; David Hopkins, director of aviation at the New York City Economic Development Corp.; Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City; and Mitchell Moss, Henry Hart Rice professor of urban policy and planning at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University plus business, labor and civic leader.

Their statement well states their rational and goal:

“….a Partnership for New York City study indicated that the declining state of local airports could cost local economies $79 billion by 2025, including more than $16 billion in lost revenue and $5.5 billion in lost wages.

The group is looking at short-term and long-term solutions. These include money to redevelop LaGuardia’s Central Terminal, improved access to the airports and an additional runway at JFK. Other goals are making security screening more efficient and fully implementing the FAA’s NextGen technology for New York’s airports.”

The existence of a high power support group should help the already influential Port Authority of New York and New Jersey advance the need for the infrastructure implementation at these airports.

We applaud two progressive communities for their commitment to their economic engines that are airports. However, we also caution that quality aviation service requires leading edge infrastructure and safety management. Advancement of Newark Liberty, JFK and LaGuardia capital investment needs and the expansion of Zephyrhills Municipal Airport should be paralleled by enhancement of these facilities’ safety management to assure that capital improvements and new related activity are coupled with a continued declining accident rate. The state-of-the-art safety systems can be best implemented by outside, independent experts who can provide the necessary insights and guide the airport management team to find the gaps in their existing perception of what they are doing to prevent accidents.

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