Inside the Fence
by John F. Infanger
Public relations: what the TSA needs, what a major business airport is investing in, and something the EPA might want to start budgeting for ...
This issue looks at the state of the industry, which as our cover story headline indicates is tentative. A big reason for the uncertainty and a big part of the future rests with the Trans-portation Security Administration. No one argues with the need for or serious nature of security, but TSA is clearly failing in its effort to the let the indus-try in on how it's going to achieve its goals and who's going to pay for it all.
Meanwhile, outside Chicago, offi-cials at Palwaukee Municipal Airport have
hired a professional PR person to direct a community relations effort. One senses
that it is an effort targeted as much at the two cities that co-own the airport
as it is at the citizenry.
In 1986, the cities of Wheeling and Mt. Prospect purchased the airport. Since then, it has been an up and down ride. Just getting a runway exten-sion has been an insurmountable bat- tle. The airlines-will-follow voices hold court, despite the fact that O'Hare International sits some ten miles away.
Palwaukee attracts plenty of cor-porate traffic, so much so that the air-port operates in the black and takes no money from either city. It is operated by a commission of eight members, with each city appointing four - per-haps a prescription for deadlock.
Robert Mark, a one-time CFI at Palwaukee and former controller and corporate pilot, is spearheading the PR effort. The central goal, he says, is to create two-way communications between the airport and community.
Mark seems to be off to a good start, evidenced by a recent workshop in which our own Ralph Hood was brought in to talk about team-build-ing. Yet, one has to wonder if discus-sions about creating an independent airport authority should also be a part of the discussion.
In our May issue, we reported on two regions of the Environmental Protection
Agency that are calling for secondary containment for aircraft refueling vehicles.
The industry has been caught by surprise, yet EPA offi-cials at the Chicago
Region 5 office tell us that this should have been a part of any airport's plan
On page 23, EPA officials from Chicago, who are currently in discus-sion with two airports in their region regarding the issue, further explain their point of view. Meanwhile, in Washington, three associations - ATA, AAAE, and NATA - are attempting to get the ear of the national EPA to get relief. The word to us is that they have been trying unsuccessfully to have this meeting since last November.
When told of this issue, aviation people almost to a person respond: Where did this come from? And, why now? To the latter, the answer seems to be that EPA inspectors are finally get-ting out to airports to see what's what. To the former, the answer, "It's been in the law since 1974," doesn't seem ade-quate.
From 1986 until 1998, fuel storage was in the limelight. While that debate was raging, stormwater runoff also took center stage, along with Spill Prevention Control and Countermea-sure plans. All the while, the refuelers sat on ramps, refueling aircraft, and no one said anything.
EPA expects compliance with its regulations, as it should. But in the future, it might want to get out to the industry and clearly define what that means before a quarter century passes.
Thanks for reading.