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Airport Education and Training 89 with operating procedures. A common mistake is to provide this only to those signing the agree- ment, with no assurance that it will trickle down to the employees who also require the same edu- cation. Airport operating boundaries, communications, safety and security procedures, and vehicle and personnel requirements should be included in a concise educational program to ensure safe and efficient airport operations. Developing an Airport Orientation Program Generally, smaller airports are governed by elected officials or by individuals who have volun- teered to assist with the airport's leadership and management decision-making process, or both. Often these individuals do not have a great deal of airport management expertise and may not be familiar with the specific operations at the airport. Each airport owner or operator should pre- pare a concise airport orientation program to welcome and educate these individuals who will be involved with processing key decisions. The orientation program should cover the airport governance structure, include a diagram of the management structure and governing authority that clearly shows the airport's chain of command, and describe the airport's history and how it was established. Copies of any legisla- tive acts, local statutes, ordinances, bylaws, and board members' responsibilities should be included as well. The orientation program should invite the new members on a brief tour of the airport to pro- vide first-hand familiarization with facilities; point out the physical property boundaries of the airport, the runway layouts, and special airport assets pilots find attractive; educate the members on the use of the buildings and the tenants that use the airport; and point out the reasons ten- ants prefer this airport and why those reasons are important to the vitality of the airport's long- term operation. The orientation program should also detail the airport's financial status; explain the current budget, revenue and expense sources, and the capital improvement program; and provide any relevant airport policies and procedures that will help with this education and future decision- making process. Performance Measurement and Benchmarking Airport managers are continually faced with the ongoing challenge of improving perform- ance. Across the country, they are discovering new approaches to increasing efficiencies within their own airports. Benchmarking is a tool that identifies "best practices" by making process comparisons both inside and outside an airport. Competitive factors are driving the growth of benchmarking. No longer is it acceptable to do one's best, or to do it better than before. This section will discuss benchmarking and how it can be used by airports to track progress and note improvements. Using benchmarking techniques, airports can share nonpublic performance information to identify the operational processes that really work for them. They begin by measuring each other's operating data, identifying the best performer in a group, then adopting the practices that improve their performance the most. Benchmarking provides the participants with the guidance they need to make informed business decisions.
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90 Guidebook for Managing Small Airports In addition to using benchmarking for improvement, managers can use it to understand the techniques they are using and their effectiveness. Benchmarking can create a nonthreatening environment to review all the possible areas for improvement. Benchmarking is both a project and a process. As a project, it is a one-time event, but as a process it is continual and integrated into the daily operations of the airport. Every airport will have some activities that fall short of highest performance. Measuring performance is the first step in benchmarking. By identifying the gap between a particular airport's performance and that of others, processes can be identified to make improvements and measure progress.