Thursday, November 07, 2013

Brainerd Lakes Regional (KBRD), Brainerd, Minnesota: Airport commission approves internship position

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission voted unanimously to approve an airport internship position starting in the spring of 2014. The commission discussed the matter Tuesday at their regular monthly meeting.

The proposed position would be filled by a college student in an aviation/airport managerial program at a four-year university.

“We want to be able to provide our students an opportunity to work in airport management,” Wig said. “And Brainerd has a lot of advantages in being a place for an intern to get their feet wet.”

Wig sited Brainerd’s commercial service with Sky-West, size and number of aircraft as positive aspects of an internship at the airport.

“Plus, we are moving pretty pro-actively in areas of marketing and economic development,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we are trying to move forward with here and we could use another boot on the ground to make some of those things move forward in a more rapid fashion.”

The 120-day internship would start in the 2014 spring semester and include an hour-wage stipend that comes out to approximately $5,200. Wig said intern projects might include developing of minimum standards for incoming businesses, creating airport policies, and performance tracking.

Wig said he is comfortable working with student interns because of his previous work at Central Lakes College.

“I’ve directed numerous students on projects,” Wig said. “Properly pointed in the right direction they can cover a lot of ground for you.”

Commissioner Beth Pfingsten added that her own daughter recently completed an airport management internship in Atlanta, Ga.

“I’m an advocate for internships,” Pfingsten said. “It’s very beneficial for the company as well as the intern.”

Pfingsten warned that part of a successful internship is having good leadership to mentor the student. “I think we are poised for that right now,” she said.

Commissioner Jeff Czeczok expressed concern of the number of times the word “assist” was used in the memo Wig developed regarding the internship. “If we’re going to have somebody work and do information gathering that’s a rather independent thing — I understand that’s a benefit to us,” Czeczok said.

Czeczok said his concern comes from the training tasks described that would require more oversight.

“To bring somebody in to just shadow a person throughout the day to just learn different things — that’s not necessarily the biggest benefit to us,” he said. Czeczok said he is not opposed to the idea of an intern, he just waned to know their time would be well spent.

Wig assured Czeczok there would be plenty of work for an intern to do.

“I truly think we’ll get value in excess of what it costs us,” Wig said.

Wig said he would be comfortable with the idea of making the internship a pilot program in 2014. “If at the end of this the commission feels that we didn’t get any value out of it, it’s unlikely we’ll do it again,” Wig said.

The commission also discussed the airport manager’s probationary period evaluation. Commission Chairman Andy Larson said the discussion about Wig’s performance since becoming manager in February was largely positive.

“We are very lucky to have you out here,” added Commissioner Gary Scheeler.

Wig’s probationary period was supposed to last six months and his salary increased at the end of the probation period. Because of scheduling conflicts, the commission’s evaluation was postponed until October. Czeczok motioned to increase Wig’s salary according to his employment agreement and do so retroactively so that the increase would apply back to the six-month mark of Wig’s employment. The motion was approved.

The fixed-based operation (FBO) report from Airmotive, Inc. manager Mike Monahan included an update on the FBO’s maintenance department. Monahan said the maintenance team conducted two engine changes on planes for the Department of Natural Resource (DNR)

“It’s a pretty big job,” Monahan said. The maintenance team also conducted 20 annual inspections and is considering becoming a Enstrom helicopter service center.

“We’re still in the process of getting all that paper work straightened out,” Monahan.

Czeczok questioned whether the cost of maintenance and repairs have stayed the same with the transition of ownership of Airmotive, Inc. Monahan said he was not certain, but that he had yet to receive any direct complaints.

“I’m sure there were some changes but that’s just something I’m not really aware of,” Monahan said.

Commissioner Don Jacobson asked if Airmotive has received requests for chartered planes in the last quarter to which Monahan answered they had not.

“We had some earlier in the year,” he said, adding that the requests were for higher powered airplanes with more seating capacity — something Airmotive does not currently have access to. Monahan explained that investing in the purchase of a larger plane would cost a significant amount of money, in addition paperwork and training.

“It’s an expensive process and a long drawn out process,” Monahan said. “I think there had to be a demand for it and we have to be a position to make the capital investment to be able to do it.”

Wig added that most of the air industry has moved from an on-demand charter model to a fractional aircraft ownership model. Czeczok asked if a fraction aircraft ownership model is “like a condo with wings” to which Wig replied, “Pretty much.”


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