Last night, the WAA hosted a meeting with approximately 20 pilots, dispatchers and controllers to maintain open the lines of communication at the airport. The conversation was flowing for two hours on topics ranging from procedures and projects at HPN to severe weather avoidance plans and alternative routings. Leading the meeting wer WAA Board Member Scott Dyer, Mike Wold (HPN Air Traffic Manger), Devon Browne (HPN Front Line Supervisor), Jon Norris (NY Tracon), Brian Seavey (NY Tracon) and Ben Struck (FAA Safety Program Manger, FRG FSDO).
Although not scheduled yet, please watch the website for quarterly meeting dates.
Below are highlights taken from the meeting to recap some significant information:
As always, the Tower at KHPN welcomes visitors. Visitors must have a passport and be a US Citizen. Call Mike Wold at 914-948-6520 if you would like to schedule a visit. Because of the cramped quarters, limit the group to about 5
Finally, the Tower folks love to be asked to go along on local flights for familiarization.
On April 12, board members of the Westchester Aviation Association (WAA) traveled to Washington DC to meet with officials of the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) to discuss the recently proposed plan to privatize the operation of Westchester County Airport. WAA Chairman Milt Hobbs, along with board members Sal Lagonia and Eric Faulkner were joined by Alex Gertsen (NBAA’s Director of Airports and Ground Infrastructure) and Dean Saucier (NBAA’s Northeast Regional Representative). Collectively, they voiced concern over the lack of general aviation’s participation in the privatization plan for the airport and community involvement in the process.
The meeting was led by Kevin Willis, the FAA’s Director of Airport Compliance and Management Analysis, and included several members of the FAA and DOT staff. Mr. Willis began by giving an excellent briefing on the FAA’s Airport Privatization Pilot Program, which included origins of the program development, its purpose and history, and concluded with the specifics of the HPN program. The FAA Airport Privatization Pilot Program was developed as a tool to help distressed airports expand, improve infrastructure and attract financing. The notable downside is that the surrounding community does lose some control over the future of its local airport.
What Is the Airport Privatization Pilot Program About?
Since 1996, 10 slots were provided in the program, of which 7 are not utilized. Westchester County Airport along with St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) and Hendry County Airport (2IS) are in various stages of implementation of the program. The only active airport is San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (SJU) in Puerto Rico - generally considered a success because the airport was greatly distressed and had a high amount of debt, which prevented much needed improvements. However, other efforts to utilize this program have failed due to either economic reasons or lack of political will to move through to completion. Mr. Willis further explained that there were no plans to expand the number of slots for the program
Details Regarding HPN
After providing a framework of the program, Mr. Willis reviewed the details of the program’s implementation at HPN. Currently, HPN has filed an initial application with the FAA and the County has issued an investor RFP to prospective operators. RFP submissions and a decision on which operator or investment group to retain is expected by late July 2017. The Westchester Board of Legislators is required to approve the selection with expected meetings on this matter to occur sometime in September.
According to Mr. Willis, after Westchester Board of Legislators approval, the process takes approximately a year to complete. This process includes the FAA acting on information provided by the County and the selected operator. Both the County and the selected operator must (among other things) meet 9 statutory conditions to gain approval by the FAA. The completion timeline of this will depend on how long it takes to receive the requested information. At a later point in the process, the FAA will hold public hearings to receive and gauge public opinion from the community. However, by historical data, the expected completion of the process would occur no earlier than late summer/early fall 2018.
What to Expect Moving Forward
With awareness that 78% of the traffic and revenue is derived from general aviation at HPN, the FAA assured our WAA representatives that they are very focused on the needs and impact to the general aviation community. Mr. Willis graciously offered to stay in touch and meet again at any time helpful to the WAA.
After the meeting with the FAA, the WAA board members traveled to NBAA headquarters and received a further briefing on the subject from NBAA’s outside legal counsel to gain additional knowledge on the subject and possible alternatives.
The WAA Board of Directors will continue to stay hyper vigilant on this issue with the goal of protecting the interests of all users and stakeholders at HPN. The WAA is committed to not only advocating on our members behalf, but also delivering the timely updates and news on this issue and others affecting Westchester County Airport. Please remember that the more constituents we represent, the more our voice and declarations will be listened to and acted upon. If you are a member of the WAA, we thank you for your continued support and want you to know that this is the exact type of issue your membership dollars are working to guard against. If you are not currently a member of the WAA, please consider joining today. As you can see, we are dedicated to our mission of providing a strong voice for general aviation at HPN and to sustain a thriving airport community, both now and in the future.
Fellow WAA Member,
The ATC Privatization issue will be back on the front burner over the next few weeks. If the airlines are successful in their attempt to take over control of the ATC system for their benefit, the impact to our membership would be swift and severe. Essentially, this effort is trying to take a monopoly (the air traffic control system of the US) and give it (for free) to a corporate board controlled by the airlines. This may look like an issue for just large business aviation interests but make sure to understand it will have a severe impact to all of us in general aviation. Take a look at the lack of general aviation in the UK to see where the story ends.
I would be happy to discuss further with any of you but would ask that you become an educated consumer of this issue and to pay close attention to this issue in Washington. The WAA will continue to keep the membership informed on this issue as well as the more local issue here at KHPN.
Will the airlines take control of ATC in the U.S.?
Jan 25, 2017David Esler | Business & Commercial Aviation
Ed Bolen believes that total control of the ATC system is the force majeure behind the airlines’ long-held wish to create and dominate an air traffic control corporation supported by user fees.
“For several decades now, some of the big airlines have tried to seize control of the ATC system and the revenues that fund it,” the NBAA president and CEO told BCA. “We believe that they want to use that control for their exclusive benefit.”
This compulsion to control the infrastructure of the National Airspace System (NAS) came into the public eye as far back as 1997 during testimony in a U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee hearing. When the major airlines claim ATC privatization is “modernization,” the CEO of a struggling startup carrier said then to think “economic domination,” because the airlines want to run the ATC system for their exclusive benefit.
Twenty years later Bolen, recalled that surprisingly candid admission: “We are very concerned that they would use that control to increase their access to airports and airspace and decrease ours,” he said. “This will impact small towns and rural communities that depend on business and general aviation for access to the marketplace.”
Efforts to rend the air traffic control function from the FAA seem to track with those who hold that anything which cannot be provided exclusively by the government belongs in the private sector. There exist many examples of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) operating in the private sector across the globe.
Previous attempts to float ATC privatization as riders to FAA reauthorization bills have failed — as have user fee proposals — primarily due to the effectiveness of lobbying efforts by general aviation advocacy groups and supporters in Congress. But as the debate ramps up toward the Sept. 30, 2017, expiration of the current FAA operational authorization amid a new political climate tilted in favor of unrestrained free market economics and smaller government, the fate of an FAA-operated NAS appears ever-more doubtful. It would seem that the separation of air traffic — and who will pay for it — has become red meat for congressional budget battles.
Meanwhile, 2016 was a nexus for studying the structure and funding of U.S. ATC. During the year past, reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) highlighting the pros and cons of ATC privatization joined audits and studies commissioned by members of Congress.
Among the issues raised were cost overruns and schedule drift in the NextGen ATC infrastructure modernization plan. As of last fall, the FAA had spent $7.4 billion on NextGen since the program’s implementation in 2004 and yet claims it needs an additional $14.8 billion to complete the six-phase system modernization — that’s a $2.6 billion increase from the agency’s last estimate in 2012. Further, completion has slipped from 2020 to an undetermined date in the 2030s. (See “Business Aviation and PBN” [BCA, December 2016, page 51] for a discussion of the FAA’s latest strategy for completing NextGen.) Then, too, questions have arisen about the reliability of the ADS-B system and lagging operator equipage numbers.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising. NextGen is essentially a huge public works project, and those often fail to track to promised schedules or budgets. And, too, political partisanship, sequestration and government shutdowns have had their deleterious effects on the ATC modernization program, pushing progress deadlines ahead and wasting money.
So in the midst of all this interest in whether or not to privatize ATC, in February 2016, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman and Aviation Subcommittee chairman, respectively, co-introduced H.R. 4441, the “Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act.” A six-year FAA reauthorization bill, it called for the creation of a nonprofit, self-financed, non-share air traffic control and modernization corporation modeled after Nav Canada. Ultimately, H.R. 4441 was blocked from reaching the House floor for vote, but it is generally accepted as a template for ATC reform that meets the conservative litmus test. Expect it to reemerge in some form in 2017.
The federally chartered ATC corporation H.R. 4441 proposed would be governed by a board “representing the aviation system’s users and the public interest.” As a possible prototype for a U.S. privatized system, it is revealing to look at Nav Canada’s governing board, which is composed of four directors representing the nation’s airlines; one director representing business and general aviation, elected through the Canadian Business Aviation Association; three directors representing the Canadian government; two directors elected by employee unions; and four independent directors elected by the overall board. The Nav Canada board hires a president/CEO to manage the corporation, and that person then also serves on the board.
H.R. 4441 was to preserve the FAA’s regulatory and enforcement functions under the federal umbrella but would have, among other reforms, “streamlined” the agency’s aircraft and equipment certification process. The ATC corporation was to be set up on debt financing (Nav Canada was required to purchase all of the country’s ATC infrastructure as a stipulation of its charter) and operated on user fees. But most significantly, the Shuster/LoBiondo legislation would have, in one fell swoop, removed 30,000 civil service employees from the federal payroll, contributing significantly to conservatives’ goals of reducing the size of government and the federal deficit.
But considering its service to the public, much like a public utility, should ATC be removed from federal control at all? Should such a service provider be tossed to the vicissitudes of the free market where it could be exposed to labor actions, economic downturns, bankruptcies and such? How do you guarantee continued service during bad times no matter what? These and other questions frame the privatization debate.
“The public airspace should be operated in the public’s best interest,” Bolen insists. “So we think the best way to ensure that is to have final authority resting with the public’s representatives, not special-interest groups. Our concern is that we could turn the system over to this combination of special interest groups dominated by the airlines.”
Citing what he characterized as “the world’s largest and best system of airports, the best ATC system,” Bolen maintains that the challenge to the U.S. “is how to continuously improve and enhance our air traffic system and still ensure it operates for the public’s best interest. So, we’ve been offering targeted solutions to immediate problems whereas the airlines are saying, ‘Just turn everything over to us, and trust that it will be OK.’”
The most powerful advocate for ATC privatization is Airlines for America, or A4A, the principal lobbying group for commercial aviation in the U.S. since 1936. Formerly called the Air Transport Association of America, its nine members and their affiliate carriers account for 90% of U.S. passenger and cargo traffic. At a National Press Club event last fall, A4A announced its intention to fully support ATC privatization during the current reauthorization debate.
A4A’s current airline membership roster includes Alaska, American, Atlas Air, FedEx, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United and UPS, with Air Canada as an associate member. Notably absent is Delta Airlines, which as of 2013 was the U.S.’s largest carrier by passenger count; it left A4A in October 2015.
“In recent years, Delta and the trade group had not been aligned on several key issues, including the growing harm of government-subsidized carriers in the Middle East and the effects of the Export-Import Bank on U.S. airlines,” Delta spokeswoman Elizabeth Wolf explained to BCA.
“A4A also has advocated for the nation’s air traffic control to be separated from the FAA and put into a private organization — a move long opposed by Delta,” Wolf continued. “The main reason is essentially that we haven’t seen compelling data to show that spinning off ATC would result in any improvements or efficiencies in the system, and we are concerned that the transition would be a distraction that could slow down progress on NextGen implementation.”
So, do the airlines united in A4A really want to control ATC and, thus, access to the NAS? “This is a red herring,” an exasperated Sharon Pinkerton exclaimed. She is senior vice president, legislative and regulatory policy, at A4A. “The rhetoric doesn’t match any reality,” Pinkerton continued. “If we did want to take control of the system, we wouldn’t have supported Shuster’s proposal.”
According to Pinkerton, A4A believes “the real issues with business aviation are around funding, but we really don’t understand their [the NBAA’s] strident opposition. When you look at the rest of the world, their concerns are misplaced, as there is no evidence that reformed systems limit access.”
Instead, Pinkerton maintains, it is the status quo that limits access, “that and policymakers who want to come in and try the latest ideas. I think the status quo is the biggest threat to business aviation in that we’re not making progress in increasing capacity in the system and the way it’s funded. The opportunities for improvement are legion.”
But Bolen maintains that privatized ANSPs have exposed inherent flaws. “We have seen it in various parts of the world and seen a lot of problems with it,” he said. “For example, in Australia, commercial flights have priority, so we have heard from our members about sitting on tarmacs for up to 5 hr. waiting for departure clearances. In the U.K., their system went bankrupt and [its management] had to turn to the government for a payout.”
Bill Deere, executive vice president at the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), noted that proponents of “corporatizing” air traffic control often hold up the number of such ATC systems around the world as “proof” that privatization is the better solution. However, “if one looks at those countries, the systems and investment are significantly smaller than those of the U.S. system, and in some places corporatization has allowed only for the creation of minimal levels of surveillance where none had previously existed,” he said. “In the case of Canada, Nav Canada was created to address a budgetary crisis in the Canadian government.
“A 2015 DOT Inspector General report clearly demonstrates these international air traffic control systems are much smaller and less complex than our own,” Deere continued. “Also reported by the IG, these air traffic control providers, unlike the FAA, ‘do not embark on large, comprehensive modernization efforts such as NextGen transformational programs or conduct extensive aviation research and development.’ Instead, as the report notes, these air traffic providers, including Nav Canada, rely on small, incremental changes using off-the-shelf technology.”
A4A: FAA’s ATC Is Inefficient
The airline industry’s argument for privatization is built primarily around increasing capacity and efficiency in the system, and the lagging NextGen program especially sticks in its craw.
“We support privatization because of the lack of progress of the nation’s biggest infrastructure project, NextGen,” said A4A’s Pinkerton. “And while it may look fine, the fact is that the FAA has released a report that shows that the inefficiencies of the current system cost the economy — mostly passengers, in terms of lost time — $30 billion a year due to unnecessary delays in the system.”
This could be addressed with quicker progress completing NextGen, A4A believes. “An airline flight between DCA [Reagan Washington National Airport] and any New York airport used to be scheduled for under an hour and now takes anywhere from 15 to 20 min. longer, with a total segment time of 180 min. 20 years later,” Pinkerton noted. “In an age where we supposedly have better technology and faster planes, the ATC system is not keeping pace. The impact on passengers of delays in the system is the number one problem.”
Closely tied to ATC modernization is the funding of the system, which Pinkerton maintains is “completely broken. We have an annual appropriations process that starts with the Office of Management and Budget setting the budget based on FAA proposals. That process is driven by other built-in constraints that have nothing to do with running ATC, everything from concerns about the federal deficit to coming up with the federal budget. Part of what we’re advocating for is an independent system that is not dependent on the federal government for contributions and one in which you can do planning in a long-term manner — NextGen should be planned according to a five-, 10- and 20-year outlook.”
So the essence of the A4A campaign is “governance and funding reform,” Pinkerton explained. “On the governance side, we are advocating for an independent nonprofit organization. Some people call it a co-op, as the board of directors is made up of aviation stakeholders including the government, labor and general aviation community. There are different examples of this across the world. In Germany there is an independent government corporation. And there’s Canada’s model, which we like and which has worked very well — and could work for the U.S. The funding model in the rest of the world is basically user fees.”
There is nothing inherently governmental about ATC and the provision of its services, Pinkerton maintains. “Government shutdowns have nothing to do with ATC either. The idea is to remove ATC from politics and the budget process. In 2013, we had a partial shutdown of ATC with controllers furloughed, not a shortage of funding, as we had $5 billion in the Aviation Trust Fund. At the end of last year, we had $7 billion. Despite having a surplus in the Aviation Trust Fund, we are still subject to an annual appropriation process, which isn’t good for the system, the controllers, NextGen or the traveling public. Or, I will venture, good for business aviation, either.”
Another criticism of the present government-operated system is that sporadic funding has drawn out the NextGen schedule to the point where newer technologies like satellite-based ADS-B are leapfrogging those to which the U.S. program is already committed, such as ground-based ADS-B.
By a two-to-one majority Americans are opposed to privatizing ATC, Bolen claims, based on a 2015 poll. “There are conservative and consumer groups, a lot of people who have expressed concern or opposition to this idea,” he said.
NATA: Privatization Doesn’t ‘Fit’ Here
The NATA’s Deere says his organization disagrees with A4A’s privatization push “because it doesn’t fit the American system. It discourages investment and erodes general aviation’s access to airspace and airports. No country has what we have: a highly complex national system that serves all entities. As a country, we make it a policy that there is national access to highways and broadband, and that also applies to the National Airspace System and airports.”
The NATA also believes that privatization puts that system at risk. “If you’re going to run ATC as a business,” Deere said, “it injects risk into the national system. If you’re going to run it as a business, you will not invest equally in all areas. But in the government-operated system, we’ve made it national policy to invest everywhere, even in rural America.”
Deere said the NATA supports making the FAA a more efficient operation, but its FAR Part 135 members balk at committing to a reformed ATC when its funding structure is so-far unknown. “What will be the cost to operators?” he asked. “Last February, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee floated a proposal singling out FAR Part 135 as the only entity that would pay user fees, while other general aviation entities, like Part 91 business aviation operations, would continue to pay the gas tax. Now, while we don’t know what the navigation fees will be, we do know that one segment of GA was singled out to pay them.”
An ATC corporation inserts “significant uncertainty” into the Part 135 community, Deere claimed. “Typical for many small businesses, the overwhelming majority of Part 135 operators have 25 or fewer employees and less than $5 million annual revenue.” In response to Shuster’s H.R. 4441 proposal last year, the NATA released this statement: “The Corporation’s proposed leadership structure provides major airlines the confidence they seek to control a future air traffic control system primarily for their benefit. Absent congressional oversight, this proposed construct risks unconstrained cost increases being passed along to other users of the system.”
Are NATA members paying their way to use the current ATC system? “Yes,” Deere said. “Like other members of the aviation community, NATA members contribute to the Aviation Trust Fund through fuel and excise taxes. In fact, Aviation Trust Fund revenues comprise the overwhelming share of FAA spending, over 97% in fiscal year 2015 alone.”
So, the question is not one of funding, Deere maintains, but rather whether the current budget process should be amended to ensure the revenues are being fully utilized for the intended purpose.
“That does not require the A4A policy prescription, the establishment of a corporatized air traffic control system,” said Deere. “In fact, a recent GAO report requested by the NATA confirmed our long-held belief that not all aviation taxes are being deposited in the Aviation Trust Fund.”
Too Big to Privatize?
Defenders of a federally operated ATC system often claim that the U.S. system is just too large and complex to privatize. Bolen: “In the U.S., we have something unique — the size and magnitude of our ATC system is beyond compare, and we have a collection of airports that is among the largest in the world, too. And we are very concerned about trying to take the largest, most complex and safest ATC system in the world and modeling it after that of a country that may have a tenth of what we have. [An oblique reference to Canada.] Most ATC systems need to break even, so if there is a turndown, they have to raise their rates at a time when operators can least afford fee increases.”
Too big to privatize? “Oh, that’s just not true,” Pinkerton at A4A exclaimed. “[The NAS is] divided up into smaller pieces of airspace — we are not talking about the delivery system but the structural tie to the government and the funding that will enable us getting out of the annual budget cycle [i.e., reauthorization]. It has nothing to do with how complex a TRACON is.”
Could the privatized, Nav Canada-influenced model in H.R. 4441 work in the U.S., given the landmass, sheer size of the operation, and growing demand for all forms of air transport?
“On the topic of privatized ATC in the U.S., I really could not say whether or not it would be a success,” Rudy Toering, president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association, told BCA. Taxation, rules and regulations, even how airports are run and financed in Canada are quite different from their counterparts in the U.S., Toering explained. “This all goes hand in hand with our privatized Nav Canada that has been extremely successful in Canada for the last 20 years. So in short, it works very well in Canada. Will it work the same way elsewhere? No one knows for sure.”
In the meantime, the NATA’s Deere thinks we’ll see “some good old-fashioned lobbying” this year along with a vigorous debate about whether the country is willing to abandon nearly a century of government-provided ATC in favor of privatization. As this went to press, the Trump administration’s position on privatizing ATC was unknown. Shuster, however, told the Associated Press that he had discussed the subject with President Trump before and after the election and “he generally liked the idea. . . .”
On the other hand, as Deere pointed out, we now have a president who has relied on business aircraft — both fixed- and rotary-wing — to help him succeed in business and, most recently, in politics.
Message to Business Aviation
BCA asked airline lobbying group A4A’s Sharon Pinkerton if she had a message for business aviation regarding ATC privatization. Her response:
“It is in business aviation’s interest to evaluate and understand that the status quo could be improved through reform and that, when you look around the world, there’s a better way of doing business.”
In early February 2017 the often-used HPN arrival/departure frequency of 120.8 is out of service. This situation may last upwards of a year. In its place, the frequency of 124.65 will be used unless otherwise instructed by ATC. Therefore, VFR pilots arriving into HPN should attempt to contact NY Approach for radar identification and inbound sequencing on 124.65. As previously, there may be times when you will be instructed on initial contact to use another frequency. Departing flights, IFR and VFR, can expect the correct current frequency from HPN clearance delivery or ground control.
The notam describing this change is as follows: "!HPN 02/019 HPN COM REMOTE TRANS/REC 120.8 CHANGED TO 124.65 1702071423-1802071420"
Last night, the WAA hosted a meeting between approximately 25 pilots and dispatchers at HPN and the control tower staff to maintain open the lines of communication at the airport. With great dialogue and wonderful interaction from the group, many questions and concerns were addressed. Leading the meeting was WAA Board Member Scott Dyer, and Demisha Vega (HPN Front Line Supervisor). Vladimir Vallejo, Air Traffic Controller, was present and spoke as well.
· HPN has a significant short staff situation and as a result, impacts the operations at HPN, which limits the availability of "line up and wait" as a procedure to expedite the flow of departing traffic.
· There are no major airport projects on the immediate horizon that are expected to affect the flow of traffic into and out of the airport.
· A current listing of the low altitude preferred routes out of HPN to hundreds of different city pairs has been posted to the WAA web site (see http://westchesteraviation.org/resources/Documents/HPN%20TEC%20PREF%20ROUTES%20JAN%202017.pdf ). These routes pertain mostly to piston singe and twin aircraft. This is a far more extensive listing than is available in the Northeast Chart Supplement or on the FAA's preferred route database (https://www.fly.faa.gov/rmt/nfdc_preferred_routes_database.jsp ) . Note that while filing these routes will more frequently result in "as filed" clearances prior to departure, the routing segments outside of the NY area may have some route discontinuities as NY ARTCC and NY Tracon have not updated many of the routes to take into account airway realignments and VOR decommissionings (e.g., in Western Pennsylvania).
· The December 2016 Callback newsletter of the NASA ASRS project was distributed, highlighting potential CPDLC-DCL problem areas. See https://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/docs/cb/cb_443.pdf The program is working reasonably well at HPN although there are some reports of glitches. If you experience problems logging on or receiving CPDLC clearances, please contact the Tower. Note that if there are problems receiving CPDLC clearances, the clearance cannot be issued through the PDC process but will be given via voice transmission).
· Concerns were raised about the circuitous low altitude routings into HPN from southeastern Pennsylvania, with routings via FJC HUO and IGN adding many miles to more direct options. Even Citations are being given these routings at 5,000' with resulting high fuel burns. This is pursuant to a letter of agreement between Allentown and NY Tracon for avoidance of traffic congestion. WAA had attempted on numerous occasions to work with NY Tracon in prior years to obtain routings closer to the former FJC STW SAX V39 BREZY routings, suggesting among other things a new parallel route offset to the north by 10 miles based on GPS waypoints, but we were unable to make that happen. Continuing to ask Allentown approach to seek one-off relief from the NY Controller in real time remains the best option to avoid the much longer IFR routing even before reaching Catskill airspace. Or, if conditions warrant, cancel IFR and proceed inbound on the Sparta routing under VFR being mindful to remain well below the EWR arrivals crossing southbound in the vicinity of SAX around 6,000'. IFRs transitioning to VFR may be able to obtain radar advisories to assist in traffic avoidance.
· The Tower at KHPN welcomes visitors. Must have your passport and be a US Citizen. Call Mike Wold at 914-948-6520 if you would like to schedule a visit. Because of the cramped quarters, limit the group to about 5.
· The Tower folks love to be asked to go along on local flights for familiarization.
Airport Community Meeting
November 28th, 20167 PM – 930 PM
On November 28th, the WAA held an airport community meeting in response to Westchester County officials announcing a proposal to lease its airport to an investment firm earlier this month. County Executive Rob Astorino unveiled the $140 million deal for a public-private partnership with Oaktree Capital Management to run the airport for the next 40 years. Although the proposal must still be approved by the Board of Legislators as well as the FAA, the WAA Board of Directors felt that it was a necessity to bring more information to the community. With this in mind, Oaktree Capital Management was eager to further explain the terms of the proposal.
Among 70 attendees, Oaktree explained more about their background in infrastructure capital investing in airports, ports, and rail currently owning 83 ports in the US. They have run the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport for the past five years and also ran the London City Airport in the UK until they recently sold it. The Oaktree team further described the freeing up of $150 million of capital to the County and making HPN better by growing capacity and creating opportunities for economic velocity. It was also mentioned that Oaktree initiated this partnership and that JetBlue backed it.
Many concerns were voiced throughout the meeting. Most alarming being that 80% of the airport includes General Aviation who currently has no representation penned within the proposal. Additional problems include why other airports have fought back against similar proposals and why Oaktree thinks their model will work here at HPN.
Hoping to win the trust of General Aviation, the Oaktree team went on to state that they would be open to put representation of the 80% at the table. Furthermore, they described three committees for possible participation: General Aviation Affairs Committee; General Aviation Technical Committee and General Aviation Operational Committee.
Emmitt McCann, managing partner of Oaktree, also responded that Private/Public business is evolving. He stated that in the past, there were no proper lines of incentives. The project at Stewart Airport did not work because there was no business model and Oaktree has had the benefit of observing this over time. They have talked extensively about the experiences with the San Juan Airport working, comparing and contrasting both projects
Although Oaktree is ultimately in control of decision making as proposed, there are Operational Standards that come directly from the County which they must adhere to or they will be in default of the agreement. An additional standard that Oaktree will be held to is an annual 139 inspection where their compliance determine AIP funds.
Other points that were addressed at the meeting include:
Last night, the WAA hosted a meeting between nearly 15 pilots at HPN and the control tower staff to further open the lines of communication at the airport. With great dialogue and wonderful interaction from the group, many questions and concerns were addressed. Leading the meeting was WAA Chairman Milt Hobbs, Mike Wold (HPN Tower Chief), and Ben Stuck of the FAA FSDO.
Having held these types of meetings before, the WAA hoped to spark further interest between the GA community of the airport. With a great show of support, this meeting now qualifies for Wings Credit and future gatherings will be led by long time tenant of the airport, Scott Dyer. Although not scheduled yet, please watch the website for quarterly meeting dates.
Very few times that anyone can receive a “line up and wait” clearance which helps expedite the flow of departures and arrivals- HPN is short one supervisor and has one on medical leave. BY FAA SOP, this clearance cannot be issued without a supervisor in the tower cab.
Congratulations to our esteemed board member John Johnston, who was presented with NBAA's Silk Scarf Award at the 2016 HPN regional forum. The silk scarf award honors outstanding business aviation community members and was given to John for his long-standing contributions to the industry during his career.
John was director of flight operations for the McGraw-Hill Companies, and prior to that, he served as director of aviation for Verizon (GTE). He has been in aviation for more than 38 years, and has type ratings in 10 different aircraft. John also holds an ATP for both SEL and MEL aircraft; flight instructor ASEL, AMEL and instruments. John has been part of the local aviation community since 2001, and has been active with not only the WAA board, but the Career Fair planning.
On September 15th, Westchester County Airport hosted the final 2016 NBAA Regional Forum setting a record for the venue and becoming the association's second-highest attended regional forum in the event's history. In efforts to further accommodate their members for this important event, NBAA constructed a 52,000 square-foot pavilion, featuring 184 indoor exhibitors and 52 aircraft on display.
Local leaders praised NBAA and the business aviation community for what the industry brings to the region through the jobs, connectivity and economic activity that business aviation supports in the local area.
"We really do appreciate your business here," said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. "This is an important industry to this county. You mean a lot to us. Thank you for doing business here."
"NBAA and its member organizations are part of what propels our economy forward," noted New York state Assemblyman David Buchwald, adding that last year, New York passed a measure exempting all general aviation aircraft transactions from the state's sales and use tax. "There's a significant opportunity for your industry to expand here in New York."
The WAA was honored to be a part of such a significant event and bringing recognition to the importance of our industry within the local and regional areas.
With the DNC occurring in PHL this week, a TFR will again be in place and HPN will be one of two gateway screening airports (the other being MDT - Harrisburg, PA) for GA aircraft to get screened that wish to fly to PHL during the period of 25-28 July. The PHL TFR will be in effect next week from Monday - Thursday during the hours of 1000-0100 daily. Our (HPN) screening operations will be conducted at the "Incident Command Post" trailer adjacent to Taxiway "Charlie" starting at 1500 and securing at 2300 since that is the time that the HPN control tower secures. MDT's screening time will also start at 1500 but they will secure at midnight. The question came-up regarding the gap in time between 1000 when the TFR goes hot and commencement of screening at 1500...here is the answer that was provided by our coordination team overseeing this operation:
Since PHL is located within the 10 NM ring and the 10/30 NM ring will be in effect at that time, operators are not allowed to arrive or depart PHL until we start screening at 1500. As an alternative, according to the NOTAM, operators may go into PNE (Northeast Philadelphia Airport) during this TFR but must be on an active IFR or VFR flight plan, maintain two way radio contact with ATC and continuously squawk an ATC-assigned discrete beacon code. They do not have to be gateway screened.
The NOTAM is published and provides specific guidance but basically, once the TFR is in effect at PHL, all non-commercial flights desiring to fly into and out of PHL must be registered at least one day in advance and then must be screened before commencing their flight to or from PHL. Pilots may commence registering their flights as of 0800 on Friday, 22 Jul.
Westchester Aviation Association is a non-profit organization.
Main P.O. Box 447 Purchase, NY 10577-0447