2019 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Justin T. Barkowski

Nov. 21, 2019

When Justin Barkowski was growing up, a career in aviation was never on his radar. However, one day while in high school he saw the movie “The Aviator,” which opened his eyes to a path that changed his life.

“There was something exciting about it,” Barkowski said. “I saw that movie and there was just something thrilling about it, so that’s when I first started to look into the idea of getting my pilot’s license.” 

Barkowski began his career with a law degree and a commercial pilot’s license. Graduating cum laude and a member of law review, those achievements would have been enough for most students.

Barkowski exhibited an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit by creating and developing an online aviation legal research system and database, consisting of historical federal bills regulations and presidential documents pertaining to aviation matters.

He further distinguished himself by authoring and publishing a book which analyzed and summarized more than 110 federal aviation bills and resolutions, including the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders potentially impacted by the proposals.

“Being in D.C., what’s really great is you get to see the whole country and we hear a lot from members on what they’re dealing with on a daily basis, what are their big pain points and what issues are they dealing with,” Barkowski said. “We get this high-level view about what’s going on in the country and being able to pick up on patterns on the big issues that are common to all airports and then trying to solve them with a community of people is very rewarding.”

Barkowski is a recognized and respected subject matter expert on airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) within the aviation community. He also tackles new issues, such as how airports’ ability to extinguish fires at airports will be impacted by environmental regulations and how the growth of commercial space launches will affect the industry.

Active in the Aero Club of Washington, Barkowski’s passion for aviation is part of his personal life as well. Without fanfare, He’s always ready to help his team, a colleague or a friend.