2021 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Nathan Sims, MBA, Aviation & Federal Project Manager, Burns & McDonnell

Dec. 9, 2021

A summer job at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and the “addictive” world of an airport took Nathan Sims from the path of working in federal law enforcement to aviation.

“I thought, ‘well, this is just, you know, a job, it's a paycheck to get me through school.’ And I'm going to continue down the path that I had intended, which my family is federal law enforcement. And so that's kind of where I felt like I was destined to be. But in a twist of fate, once you get out into the airport and you start breathing in jet fumes, then you have a hard time breaking free from that particular scene. It's very addictive. And so, I just enjoyed it,” Sims recalled.

Moving into DFW’s terminal systems IT group, he led the deployment of the first-ever virtualized sort allocation controller, enabling baggage sortation on virtual machines versus physical servers in response to a major baggage disruption caused by hardware failure.

“We faced a disaster recovery scenario with our baggage handling system, essentially the sort controller cratered. And so we couldn't sort bags in one of the five terminals and that was quite a dire situation that we were working through. And, and we had to basically come up with a creative solution to address that scenario and restore service to help basically bring back online baggage sortation in that particular facility for the airline and for the passengers who were checking bags,” described Sims.

Sims also implemented the first airport common use baggage reconciliation system in North America, utilized by over 15 international airlines, helping greatly reduce the number of mishandled bags by automating the reconciliation process and enhanced track and trace capability.

Sims, now an aviation and federal project manager with Burns & McDonnell, specializing in airport technology, security, and special systems.

Sims is currently commissioning the $2 billion concourse expansion program and Great Hall at Denver International Airport, leading the special systems and technology portions of the project, including testing of the access control, video surveillance, and radio systems, as well as the master antennae TV, local area network, Wi-Fi, telephones, and more.

Additionally, Sims is commissioning multiple baggage handling projects at DFW and is assisting the program management team on the new terminal under construction at Columbia Regional Airport in Missouri.

Outside of project work, Sims is heavily involved in the industry and demonstrates his commitment through industry associations and committees. He currently serves on the ACC Terminal and Facilities Technology subcommittee and multiple ACI-NA Business Information Technology subcommittees. He regularly contributes articles to industry publications, attends industry tradeshows and conferences, and often serves as speaker or moderator for sessions on technology trends and best practices.

“I think the aviation industry is truly unique. It's unique in the sense that it's extremely dynamic. There's a lot of challenges. Some of them seen some of them unforeseen and it really takes all of us working together. So, it's a team sport. I really like the aspects of being able to serve travelers and try to figure out ways to just enhance their experience and make the traveling experience the best that it can possibly be on behalf of the airports and airlines that are serving them,” said Sims.

About the Author

Walker Jaroch | Editor

Contact: Walker Jaroch

Editor | AMT

[email protected]


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