Washington, DC
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Hosted by The Center for Latin American Issues, the Federal Aviation Administration,
and the American Association of Airport Executives to discuss the most pressing issues
in airport management in the Western Hemisphere today.


Dr. James Ferrer opened the conference by welcoming everyone to the George Washington University for a day of illustrative and productive discussions on current issues facing airport managers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Associate Administrator Woodie Woodward of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed with welcoming remarks that highlighted cooperation between the FAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to prepare the region for the upcoming expansion of ICAO’s audit program to include airport certification.

Fire Chief Luis Sosa and Captain Fernando Alarcón talk about training programs. Raymond Ybarra discusses ICAO activities. Seated (l. to r.): James Ferrer; Arun K.R. Rao

Mr. Arun K.R. Rao, the Chief of the Aerodromes, Air-Routes and Ground Aids Section in the ICAO Montreal Office, spoke first in Panel I and gave an overview of ICAO’s aerodrome certification and audit program. His presentation emphasized the work that should be undertaken by States in order to prepare for the airport audits that are to begin in February 2004. He explained how the airport audit was being developed and provided a timeline of how they will be carried out. Mr. Raymond Ybarra, Director of the ICAO Regional Office for North America, Central America and the Caribbean (ICAO NACC), complemented Mr. Rao’s presentation by offering a regional perspective. He gave examples of deficiencies in the region and possible sanctions that could be imposed under the airport audit program (i.e. administrative, mitigated or non-compliance actions). He concluded by discussing the consequences to the region (cost of insurance, credit rating, risk exposure, airline demands) and what ICAO NACC is doing to raise awareness.

FAA’s Ed Cleary talks about wildlife hazards to aviation. Luis Valencia presents Colombia’s experience.


Speakers in Panel II provided a wealth of information on the FAA’s airport certification program, a glimpse into daily operations at Washington National Airport, wildlife hazards and available Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) training. Mr. Ed Dorsett gave an overview of the FAA’s airport certification process and explained the three different types of inspections, including enforcement actions to be taken should problems or deficiencies be found. He emphasized the need to rotate inspectors to ensure objectivity and stressed that, since all airports are different, each one must develop its own unique manual. Mr. Robert Kizmann gave a brief history of Washington National Airport and how that airport meets, on a daily basis, Part 139 regulations. He provided attendees with examples of what an inspection sheet looks like and underscored the consequences of failing to meet Part 139 regulations. Mr. Ed Cleary gave a dynamic presentation on wildlife hazards at airports. He captivated attendees with detailed photographs of actual wildlife strikes resulting in astounding damage. He noted that there are more strikes today due to an increase in bird and deer populations and also because airports are a source of food, water and cover to these populations. He informed the audience that wildlife strike reporting is strictly voluntary, with the philosophy being that there will be better results through education rather than through regulation. Mr. Cleary concluded by describing the various activities the FAA and other States are engaged in to raise awareness. Finally, Fire Chief Luis Sosa and Captain Fernando Alarcon gave a presentation on the City of Laredo’s ability to provide ARFF training domestically and internationally. The Training Center meets FAA regulations for ARFF training and also does customized, in-country training. To date, Chief Sosa has provided ARFF training for Venezuela, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.

Ms. Ava Wilkerson, Director of International Aviation at the FAA, introduced the conference’s keynote luncheon speaker. While airport safety was the focus of the conference, Ms. Wilkerson pointed out that the conference could not have been held without discussing the most pressing issue in the region today: airport security. Mr. Christopher Browne, Washington National Airport Director, recounted the chilling events of September 11 and his reactions to the events that day, events that changed airport security forever. National Airport, because of its location, observes special, particular procedures that kept it closed longer than any other airport in the country after September 11. It was not Mr. Browne’s decision as to when the airport would reopen; that came directly from the White House. The economic impact of closing National Airport has become a textbook example of the economic impact on the surrounding region when a busy airport is closed.

William Davis speaks about runway safety. Seated are fellow members of Panel 3. Steven Urlass speaks about government-airport operator relations.  Seated are fellow members of Panel 4.

Panel III covered the FAA’s and ICAO’s role in raising awareness of runway incursion problems and provided an overview of safety risk management, a concept vital to reducing and preventing accidents. Mr. Bill Davis spoke about the FAA’s runway safety program. He explained how runway incursions are categorized and he enumerated the FAA’s accomplishments to date in reducing the number of runway incursions. He also gave examples of types of runway incursions and stressed that the FAA is not a global leader in this effort; it’s recognized worldwide that we must adopt a multi-dimensional and international approach to solve this issue. Mr. Ybarra complemented Mr. Davis’ presentation by recapping what the ICAO regional offices in Latin America have done to address this problem. He stated that runway incursions are not new; they are clearly defined in the Chicago Convention, but the problem is the lack of awareness. The ICAO regional offices identified one key factor to runway incursions in the Americas: language. To tackle this issue, ICAO has sponsored workshops, seminars and other events to raise awareness that the problem is not limited to pilots, but also to all airport personnel, including air traffic controllers. Mr. David Balderston presented the importance of system safety tools for detecting and monitoring risk by developing a safety risk management system. He defined the system, its major components and explained that the goal of such a system is to avoid safety losses and the strategy is to manage safety risks. Once implemented, the system would proactively identify and control hazards, and conditions that could lead to increased safety risks.

The final panel of the day covered airport planning and airport security strategies. Mr. Steven Urlass gave an overview of the FAA’s role in airport planning in the United States. Mr. Urlass explained that the FAA guides airports to develop safe and efficient systems, but considers also economic and environmental issues that could potentially affect the local region. Mr. Urlass provided an overview of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) that includes airports deemed the most important to transportation needs. Also presented was the FAA’s Airport Development Funding and how money generated for the program (from passenger facility charges added to each ticket) is used for the Airport Improvement Program.

Christopher Browne addresses the audience during lunch. Dr. James Ferrer welcomes the audience.

Mr. Luis Valencia, Colombia’s Director of Airport Supervision, gave a presentation on Colombia’s airport security strategies. Due to Colombia’s internal problems with guerilla insurgency and narcotrafficking, the civil aviation authority (CAA) has had to develop and implement strict, detailed security programs and policy to guard against potential hijackings and other security breaches. Mr. Valencia discussed these challenges and how the Colombian CAA has met them with a security oversight program costing $5 million a year and an investment of $10 million in security equipment ranging from identification badges, locks, and perimeter fencing to sophisticated x-ray machines. It was acknowledged that Colombia has had security challenges long before September 11 and that the region can benefit greatly from its experience.

Dr. Ferrer closed the conference by noting that aviation is taken for granted and that the general population is oblivious to the amount of work and energy the international civil aviation community expends to make aviation a safe mode of transportation. The issues facing civil aviation today require continuous, determined international cooperation. Two issues raised that will have to be addressed in the region are: 1) the fact that many States don’t have the resources to support the expansion of ICAO’s audit program to include airports, and 2) they do not have the needed legislation in place to support airport certification. This conference raised awareness in the Latin American and Caribbean regions of the need to be prepared for ICAO’s airport audit program and is the first step of what will surely be increased regional cooperation to meet this challenge.



Please click on the links below to visit the: