As air travel continues to grow exponentially in the United States, the problem aging airports face are substantial geographical limitations to expansion. In order to keep pace with the demand, airports nationwide are utilizing aviation specialists with experience working within physical logistical constraints. Successful airport improvement and expansion projects are innovating air travel with creative solutions and new technology while minimizing environmental and community impacts.
Completing large, complex, highly technical capital improvement projects without negatively affecting daily airport operations requires a combination of knowledge, best practices and above all, experience.
Involving a program manager early can reduce risk and ensure consistent delivery from the start to a project through completion and has distinct benefits.
Extension of staff and comprehensive knowledge
With an experienced PM, owners have immediate access to a multidisciplined team of experts, who can provide direction and guide key decisions from concept to completion. This will provide a project with industry experts in aviation including but not limited to airport planning, airfield, terminal, landside, utilities, air cargo, environmental consulting, etc.). The firm can also offer airline facility experience, financial consulting and the proper use of various funding sources for airport CIP projects, airport design (airfield, terminal, landside, APM’s, utilities, tunnels, bridges), experience in all construction delivery methods, scheduling, cost estimating, document control and more.
In addition to expertise, a full-service aviation consulting firm will be knowledgeable in all facets of airport planning and design. This includes environmental consulting, airline facility experience, financial consulting and the proper use of various funding sources for airport CIP projects, experience in all construction delivery methods, scheduling, cost estimating and document control.
Lower risk, retention of programmatic knowledge and procurement optimization
Risk management is one of the primary roles of a program manager, utilizing the cadre of experience and best practices to save the owner from unnecessary risk and oversights that will increase costs and endanger project schedules. When brought in during the master-planning phase, a PM has time to solicit and help the owner incorporate stakeholder needs and avoid project-threatening change orders.
It is imperative to the job, while navigating the complexities of a large airport program, knowing the project history and retaining that programmatic knowledge will streamline the program manager’s decision-making as well as provide the record of specific decisions when needed.
The PM also must know the best methods to delivering a project on an accelerated timeline. By optimizing procurement, the program manager can inform the owner of various alternative methods, allowing them to choose the one best suited to the needs of a given project.
Competitive bids, scheduling, consistency and scalability
A healthy competitive bid environment is necessary to obtain the return on investment for capital improvement campaigns. The PM may advise the owner to procure the specialized product or skillset separately in order to encourage competitiveness ultimately obtaining the best price. Milestones are not organically achieved in this environment and a skilled PM will develop a master schedule to closely monitor deliverables in order keep contractors and subcontractors moving towards and achieving their respective deadlines. Meeting or even beating scheduled milestones is necessary to ensure a project is completed on time and within budget.
The presence of a program manager from the beginning of a project ensures consistency across the board by eliminating gaps in the master schedule and contractual documentation. Mitigating any inconsistencies as they occur is key when the time comes to hand off the completed asset. Positioning the right specialist to work at the appropriate time is one of the benefits of scalability. PMs will utilize specialists when their role is essential then release them once the task is completed and also provide mentorships where they impart years of knowledge and experiences to staff and contractors to benefit professional development and bring complex programs to successful outcomes.
The more ambitious and complex the airport program, the greater the value a program manager can generate in efficiency, quality and day-to-day confidence in success. When an owner activates a program manager early on, an airport can advance a large-scale program, knowing it will receive a quality product, on time, on budget and to its satisfaction.
Lou Russo, Aviation Market Sector Leader for HNTB Corporation, is a globally recognized expert in alternative construction delivery. He has had executive leadership responsibility for large, complex aviation programs valuing in excess of $200 billion. Throughout his career, he has overseen successful completion of a variety of projects at international airports, including major runways, automated people mover systems and terminal development. Contact Russo at email@example.com