Inside the Fence

June 8, 2000

Inside the Fence

John Infanger, Editorial Director

June 2000

Sometimes, a newcomer's perspective is worth heeding ...

Consider Jack Canfield, vice president of Ryan-McGinn-Samples Research, who headed up a series of focus groups to determine the attitudes of citizens who reside near general aviation airports. Canfield's work was commissioned by NATA, as part of its ongoing American Aviation Access Initiative.

Canfield's specialty is bringing a group of ten or so citizens into a room and finding out how they really feel about a particular subject. In this case, the topic was ultimately the local airport.

We asked Jack to share some of his insights into an industry to which, prior to these sessions, he had little exposure. His thoughts ...

• "The intelligent aviation manager should begin with research, period. Do the research, then decide the message and the messengers. Too many people operate in a ready, fire, aim mode."
• "Neighbors don't cast general aviation airports in terms of black and white. They simply want information more than anything else."
• "What impresses me is the strong ’good neighbor' feel out there about general aviation. What's puzzling, though, is the gap between local government, which should be promoting its airports, and airport managers. I'd say the real challenge is educating civic, government, and opinion leaders."
• "People are reasonable; they want facts. They don't pay particular attention to shrill extremists on either side, although persistent news coverage does have an effect in that it can create doubts."
• "I came away from Van Nuys (CA) worrying about an explosion of noise rage. It's not the fault of the Van Nuys Airport — it's cars, buses, freeways, police helicopters, etc. It assaults the senses. But the Van Nuys airport folks have a really impressive state-of-the-art noise control system in place. Yet they don't get the credit they deserve. Their biggest ally should be the neighbor who lives right down the street. They don't appreciate how hard the airport staff is working on their behalf; and the city fathers haven't picked up on it yet, either." * * *

Meanwhile, at the NATA show in Tampa in May, a few of the bullet points that stand out ...
• From Christian Domer, president of Rifton Aviation Services ... ... It is the time to destination, not the distance to destination, that is important to the customer.
• From Paul Schweitzer, head of vendor relations for Executive Jet ...

... The FBO that survives tomorrow will incorporate technology more than it does today. ... FBOs need to offer Internet capabilities to customers at the front desk/lobby area.
... FBOs need to be able to conduct complete transactions on the ramp, and technology allows this to be achieved.
... Aviation business managers should attend technology shows, catering shows, and the like. There they will find the latest in competitive services to incorporate into their operations.

* * *

Finally, as we go to press, news comes that the FAA has issued its revised Advisory Circular (No. 150-5190-5) for minimum standards. More to come in our next issue. Thanks for reading.