Consulting 101

Ground Clutter

Consulting 101

By Ralph Hood

August 2004

In our June issue, Paula Hochstetler, president of the AirportConsultants Council (ACC), was cited as saying that when it comes to airportprojects, “FAA’s role has changed from one of technicalreview to one that’s administrative. It has prompted ACC to pursuetraining in how to develop airports.” Now that seems worthy of further discussion, so I telephoned Ms. Hochstetler.

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Hochstetler is one organizational head who actually made a living doing what the members do. She was an airport consultant herself, with an impressive list of client airports including Savannah, Hong Kong, and Palm Beach.

She points out that airport projects are up while FAA staffing at regional and district offices is down. Thus, she says, FAA can no longer provide in-depth technical review of all projects, and airport consultants have a greater responsibility to get it right the first time.

Hochstetler, wanting to be fair, says she did not know if this is an FAA policy or if it just happened. She urged me to call Dr. Woodie Woodward, FAA's Associate Administrator for Airports. That proved to be one of the most successful and pleasant calls I ever made to a guvmint body. A very enthusiastic Marcia Adams of the public affairs office tracked down Dr. Woodward, explained my question to her, fit me into her busy schedule, then put us together on the phone.

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Dr. Woodward disagrees mildly with her friend Hochstetler. She (Dr. Woodward is the only woman I ever met who is called Woodie) says the computer makes it possible to do more with less staff, and she feels FAA review is at least as good as it ever was. At the same time, she agrees that airport projects have become more sophisticated and more complex, making the role of the consultant one of increasing responsibility.

That goes right along with another bit of info from Hochstetler: There is more diversification among airport consultants as they specialize in areas of growing importance. Environmental, security, financial, and signage issues have grown by leaps and bounds. Consultants who specialize in these areas have come forth to meet the demand, further increasing the need for consultant training.

By the time you read this, the ACC Institute will have announced a program of training courses for airport consultants to be co-sponsored by ACC, FAA, and TSA. The first course — appropriately called Airport Consulting 101 — will be offered in October. Real airport consultants and representatives of FAA and/or TSA will present all courses. Now that is industry cooperation.

This has to be a good idea and more power to them. Much of the training in this country is provided by industry organizations. These courses provide standards which clients, guvmints, and competitors quickly learn to recognize and value.

Ralph Hood is a Certified Speaking Professional who has addressed aviation groups throughout North America. A pilot since 1969, he’s insured and sold airplanes at retail and distributor levels and taught aviation management for Southern Illinois University. Reach him at ralph@ralphhood.com

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