Airport promotes CEO to lead airport authority

Pittsburgh International Airport got a new boss Friday.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority named Bradley D. Penrod to succeed Kent George as executive director. Penrod, the authority's chief operating officer, will take the post Oct. 5.

The authority board ditched a national candidate search to unanimously back Penrod, who served for a decade as George's number-two man.

"Brad Penrod has apprenticed long under one of the best directors in the business," board chairman Glenn R. Mahone said. "He has all the credentials, and it was consensus that a national search would not likely turn up a candidate stronger -- certainly not compellingly stronger -- than Brad."

Penrod, 47, of North Fayette, said he looks forward to expanding international airline service, nurturing low-cost carriers and encouraging development in the airport corridor.

"We've got a great staff and a great facility," he said. "I'm fortunate that they liked what I did in the past. So, here we go."

Penrod worked his way through the airport ranks in classic, up-by-the-bootstraps style. He interned at the old Greater Pittsburgh terminal while a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, and took his first job here in airport operations. Penrod served as interim director in 1998, and became chief operating officer a year later.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Penrod was the man air traffic controllers called when United Airlines Flight 93 made a sudden turn near Cleveland and started flying erratically at an unauthorized altitude. Passengers later overpowered the hijackers and the jet crashed into a field near Shanksville, Somerset County.

"You really see people at their most stressful time in circumstances like that, and he handled himself extremely well," said Jim Roddey, then the county chief executive. "You felt like you were dealing with someone who was in control."

Penrod's experience is part of what will make him a great director, said Greg Principato, president of Airports Council International-North America.

"Brad is very well-respected," Principato said. "There has been lots of change in Pittsburgh over the past few years and Brad is well-equipped to take the airport to the next level."

Penrod accepted the job yesterday, but he and the board still need to iron out some financial details.

George, 60, of Ohio Township, is leaving to run Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida. He will receive a $250,000 salary, a 15 percent raise from the $215,000 he earns in Pittsburgh.