July 30, 2014

When the primary runway at a general aviation airport is scheduled for reconstruction for up to 17 weeks, it can create some challenges. With the potential livelihood of FBOs and other airport businesses and operators on the line, the stakeholders at Southern California’s Van Nuys Airport (VNY) got together and turned the closure of Runway 16R into a textbook case of cooperation and collaboration.

This was the message conveyed recently by key VNY officials at the Southwest Chapter meeting of the American Association of Airport Executives (SWAAAE) in Long Beach, CA. Airport officials from around the region watched a VNY-sponsored, Emmy-award nominated video about the project and heard from VNY Airport Manager Jess Romo, Curt Castagna, president/CEO Aerolease Group and president of the Van Nuys Airport Association and Laddie Irion, senior vice president and national aviation market sector leader, HNTB Corporation, the lead contractor.

“It gave us the chance to reach across the table and educate the airports about the economics and needs of business aviation,” said Castagna, an NBAA Member and business aviation advocate. “The primary message from our side was, ‘engage us early on’ in any engineering or airport project.”

Romo agreed: “For airports facing a similar project, it is critical to bring in users and tenants early in the project planning phase.”

The VNY video describes how the project was accomplished with only 26 nights and 10 days of runway 16R closure. “Leveraging the resources of all pertinent stakeholders in this case yielded a much less intensive approach to the structural rehabilitation and a faster, more efficient phasing approach,” said Romo. “Both of these resulted in a less costly and more quickly completed project.”

Stacy Howard, NBAA Western Regional Representative, also attended the SWAAAE meeting, where she noted NBAA’s role in keeping Association Members informed of the latest construction information throughout the project.

“The cooperation between aircraft operators, FBOs and airport officials, as well as with the construction and engineering contractors, could serve as a successful template for projects at other airports,” Howard added.

“The biggest takeaway was recognizing that all project stakeholders possessed unique perspective and talents in creating and building on the runway project to result in its success,” said Romo. “No one person or group had all the answers. It really took an ‘airport village’ to deliver a successful project.”