Tuesday, October 21, 2014

3 regional airlines submit proposals to serve Pierre, South Dakota, under Essential Air Service program

PIERRE, South Dakota — Three regional airlines have submitted proposals to provide federally subsidized service to South Dakota's capital city.

The proposals to the Essential Air Service program to serve Pierre are from Aerodynamics Inc. of Beachwood, Ohio, Boutique Air of San Francisco, and Great Lakes Aviation of Cheyenne, Wyoming, according to KCCR radio.

Great Lakes currently provides daily flights from Pierre to both Minneapolis and Denver, but the carrier has had to cancel or delay many flights this year because of a lack of pilots. The airline cites federal regulations for the pilot shortage. Federal Aviation Administration rules that took effect in August 2013 require co-pilots to log 1,500 flight hours before they can work for commercial airlines. They previously required 250 hours.

The proposals from Aerodynamics Inc. and Great Lakes are for daily flights between Pierre and Denver. Boutique Air would offer daily flights to both Denver and Minneapolis. The amount of the subsidy requested ranges from $767,546 by Great Lakes to $4.6 million by the other two airlines.

City officials have until Nov. 17 to submit comments to the federal Transportation Department. A group of city officials and consultants will study the proposals before deciding which one to support, Mayor Laurie Gill said. The federal government could decide on a carrier as early as the end of the year.

Information from: KCCR-AM, http://www.todayskccr.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (KECP) looks to Federal Emergency Management Agency to correct flood affliction

WEST BAY — The stormwater system at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport was designed to sustain 25-year storm events, not 100- or 500-year events as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

At a meeting Monday, the Airport Authority continued discussions on the best way to approach extensive flood damage stemming from a torrential, 100-year rain event earlier this year and better prepare the system for future storms.

Because the airport is considered a “critical facility” by FEMA, a facility where even a slight risk of flooding can present a great threat, Airport Director Parker McClellan said flood management plans must be addressed on a 500-year flood plain.

The April 30 storm dumped between 11 and 16 inches near the terminal building and an estimated 16-plus inches at the north end of the property.

“The challenge that we had was we had so much water that instead of the water going away from the airport, it all came onto the airport,” McClellan said.

Officials from the airport’s consulting engineer firm, ZHA, identified 24 problem areas for flooding during the meeting — 17 of which are on the airport property, with the remaining seven stemming from water flow from areas off the property.

The consultant outlined an estimated project cost of $4.5 million to address 17 of those projects, about half of which also would require mitigation efforts. Funding for projects also will be made available through FEMA,which made an emergency declaration for the area following the storm.

 The declaration freed up federal funds for damage repair projects — 75 percent of which would be covered using federal emergency funds, 12.5 percent by state emergency funds and the remainder by the local agency.

During the meeting, the Airport Authority approved a $77,700 task order for ZHA to conduct the first phase of an investigative stormwater study to determine potential solutions for controlling the water flow. The task order will be forwarded to FEMA for approval under its “Alternative Procedures Program,” for which the airport anticipates an 87.5 percent reimbursement, leaving the airport’s balance at about $9,000.

ZHA also proposed a task order to conduct a second stage of the stormwater investigation at a price of $248,500, which the board requested be submitted to FEMA approval, but not yet conducted. A third ZHA task order to prepare construction bid documents for the proposed projects was tabled for further examination.

In other business Monday, the airport:

Approved a Specialized Service Operator Agreement and space use agreement with Edge Aerodynamix Inc., which announced Friday it will locate at the airport to test and develop its new BladeGuard technology, a product that will reduce drag and provide significant fuel savings for all types of aircraft. The company has committed to creating 120 new jobs in the area and will pay the airport $1,500 per month to park an aircraft on the commercial ramp.

Reported a flat month for passenger activity last month, when compared with September 2013. Total passengers were down about 0.1 percent, pushing the airport’s passengers down about 0.8 percent year-to-date.
Reported a 22 percent market share for ECP in Northwest Florida. Other airports carrying portions of the market include: Pensacola International Airport with 40 percent, Northwest Florida Regional Airport with 20 percent and Tallahassee Regional Airport with 18 percent.

- Source:  http://www.newsherald.com