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Flight Plan to Recovery: Preparing Airports for the Return of the Traveling Public (2020)

Chapter: Session 1: FAA Overview of What We Are Doing to Ensure Consistency

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Suggested Citation:"Session 1: FAA Overview of What We Are Doing to Ensure Consistency." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Flight Plan to Recovery: Preparing Airports for the Return of the Traveling Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25954.
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Suggested Citation:"Session 1: FAA Overview of What We Are Doing to Ensure Consistency." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Flight Plan to Recovery: Preparing Airports for the Return of the Traveling Public. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25954.
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5 SESSION 1   FAA Overview of What We Are Doing to Ensure  Consistency  Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, St. Louis International Airport and Chair, ACRP Oversight Committee, Moderator Winsome Lenfert, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Presenter Rhonda Hamm‐Niebruegge introduced FAA Deputy Associate Administrator for Airports Winsome Lenfert, whose office has responsibility for certain programs related to airport safety and inspections and standards for airport design, construction, and operations, including international harmonization of their airport standards. The office is also responsible for national airport planning as well as environmental and social requirements. FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) have been working to unite the industry. Both have emphasized the need to work together to deal with a significant downturn in passenger traffic and have highlighted efforts for recovery with all industry partners and efforts for the health, safety, and security of both employees and the traveling public. The importance of flexibility is essential, as is a focus on recovery and continued growth. Lenfert began by citing the need for this Insight Event and stating that she had quickly come to an agreement with the AOC that the need for this event was urgent and that she was thankful to ACRP for getting this event done so quickly with the wealth of presenters. Lenfert indicated that the U.S. DOT, FAA, and many others, are all working very hard to manage through this global health and public health emergency. She said that, since early 2020, FAA has been working on a presidential proclamation known as “212(f)” to limit flights from China and Europe and, now, Brazil and many other locations in between. She added that the decline in passenger traffic showed the need to work together to find safe places to park thousands of aircraft across the U.S. system. Lenfert said, At our lowest point in the United States, we saw aircraft operations down by 67% from this point last year and passenger traffic was down 96%. The global impact is also remarkable in that there has been a global reduction of 28.4% in the first quarter of 2020, which translates to roughly about 614 million passengers. Long- term projections show that international reductions will be down by 50% throughout 2020. . . . These numbers are staggering and they are just one piece of the overall impact to the aviation industry that sees empty terminals every day.

6 She further stated that the industry needs to return its attention to recovery and consider how best to strengthen the public and passengers’ confidence in air travel. Then it will be possible to once again fill terminals and airplanes with business travelers and vacationers and begin to reengage these huge economic drivers of communities. Lenfert stated that FAA and the U.S. DOT are working closely and relying heavily on other federal partners at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, especially with TSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to provide guidance on health and security. Lenfert indicated that FAA is also working closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other international partners to consistently provide information to the aviation industry across the world. She stated that they are working with other stakeholders to gather input and, especially in events like this, on how best to bring the aviation system back up. She said, “Some key points to consider are, first and foremost, how can people be protected? How do we protect our passengers, our crew or aviation workers, or anyone who comes through our system on a daily basis to make sure that we work as one aviation industry?” Lenfert added that we need to make sure that we are keeping our entire system up and operating through this whole process. It is important that, for points of essential connectivity, especially in remote areas where aviation is the only connection to receiving vital supplies, we ensure what we have done so far. Lenfert continued that the system that we work in today is very complex. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that health and security changes are integrated as a system and also that the implementation of these changes is flexible enough to respond to an ever-evolving situation. She went on to say that one of the lessons learned since the beginning of this pandemic is to be flexible. Lenfert urged participants to build on lessons learned and to continue to build public confidence in existing systems. She added that there are financial relief strategies to help the aviation industry and that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was a great start. It helped many airports and airlines, but, she added, there is more to do to ensure that the aviation industry is healthy. She said, “We are working together to restart the aviation industry and support its recovery, which are actually two very distinct actions: restart and recovery. This will require different approaches and temporary measures to mitigate the risks.” Lenfert added that the webinar’s discussion would focus on restarting recovery and continuing growth.

Next: Session 2: Health Update »
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This report summarizes an event focused on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response and its impact on the operational and economic recovery of airports.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program'sConference Proceedings on the Web 27: Flight Plan to Recovery: Preparing Airports for the Return of the Traveling Public includes presentations from airport industry leaders who discussed current and ongoing practices to get passenger confidence back to aid in airport recovery during an ACRP Insight Event over Zoom on May 28, 2020.

Specific topics presented the aviation industry with challenges that are mutually shared by all partners, including safety, public confidence, and financial sustainability. Other topics included gaps in the industry and public response to date and how the industry may address them, as well as operational mitigation strategies to enable recovery in the post-lockdown environment.

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