Inside the Fence

Jan. 8, 2002

Inside the Fence

News, observations, and a personal note while on an adjusted itinerary...

By John F. Infanger

January 2002

Ran into Jeff Gilley, NBAA’s airport liaison, at the National Airports Conference in Tucson and again at NBAA in New Orleans. He’s been active, taking part in security initiatives with AAAE and NATA (and, of course, the federal government). Says he’s "impressed" with security initiatives undertaken by fixed base operators.
At the NAC, Gilley joined Morristown (NJ) Municipal director Bill Barkhauer and others to discuss the activities of the newly formed General Aviation Airports Security Task Force put together by AAAE. Bill is chair of the group, a past AAAE board member, and directs one of the busier business aviation airports in the U.S., not far from New York City.
The target of the task force: a heightened level of security at smaller airports that takes into account reasonableness.

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Tucson saw strong attendance — people looking for security answers that weren’t readily available, for the most part. Much appears to rest on direction from John Magaw, the new Under Secretary of Transportation for Security, officially appointed by President Bush in January. A concern: the $1.5 billion authorized by the new security legislation was not yet appropriated, and Congress was hedging.
Airport budgets are taking a hit. It doesn’t help that the entire political chain is being challenged financially. We have $3.3 billion coming to AIP in FY02 while matching funds become a serious issue. Then there’s the question of exactly how we change the design of anything being constructed in light of new — and still to come —security considerations.
Congress should be applauded for serving as the catalyst in finally achieving 100 percent baggage reconciliation. Only problem now is getting it done, and finding the money to pay for it. Our NAC report includes a sidebar from Salt Lake City International director Tim Campbell. He and his crew have had to ramp up for the Olympics and their experience may offer some logistics answers for the long term regarding baggage.
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The state of business aviation is strong. That appeared to be the consensus at the delayed and abbreviated NBAA Convention. A third the normal size, it featured no grandiose displays by Cessna, Raytheon, Gulfstream, Honeywell, Signature, et. al. Yet, the mood was quite productive, the security sessions overflowing.
One thing: The current oil glut means reasonable fuel prices, in turn helping FBOs recover from losses by way of good margins. However, more than one FBO may be throwing out some of that margin to try and attract recovery business. The bizav sector is strong, but it’s not providing the financial answers for all. Flight schools have been devastated, and this could signal an emphatic shift to academy-type training, coming for some time.
Illinois Governor George Ryan capped the efforts of Steve Whitney and the Friends of Meigs Field by announcing, in person at the show, that Meigs would remain an airfield for 25 more years. Whitney never gave up the fight; nor, it should be said, did AOPA or the Illinois governor.
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Finally ... Frank Dellapenta, a genuinely nice guy and a respected veteran at Texaco’s general aviation divison, died of a heart attack last fall. He passed away in his office on a Saturday.
Thanks for reading.