Posts Tagged ‘ACI’

HMMH Fall Tour 2015: On the Road Again

Friday, November 13th, 2015

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I’ve been on the road this fall at conferences – a whole lot of air miles, too many hotels, chicken lunches, and name tags (someday these will be designed for wearing on something other than a suit jacket lapel), but lots of great discussions, more than a few cocktails with good friends, and many laughs along the way. Some common themes emerged; here’s a recap of my highlights/takeaways:


Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) Global Sustainability Aviation Summit (Geneva)

At ATAG, ACI and Canso jointly released a document entitled Managing the Impacts of Aviation Noise, which provides a concise summary of airport noise issues, strategies for mitigation, and an extensive series of case studies. On community engagement, the report recommends following guidance issued in Eurocontrol’s Collaborative Environmental Management (CEM). One key difference between the European approach and ours is that the airport is at the center of the discussion. I am pleased to have contributed to the document.



ACI World Environment Standing Committee (Geneva)

Australia has seen good success in improving relations by having a very engaged and completely independent Aircraft Noise Ombudsman, who serves as a neutral party facilitating discussion of noise abatement alternatives, and educating the public using language that is not jargon. The Australians also provide guidance to airports (and others) on how to properly address complaints. And Canada recently released an Airspace Change Communications and Consultation Protocol for engaging communities and other stakeholders in discussion of proposed airspace changes. It, too, puts airports at the center of the discussion.



ACI-NA Annual Conference and Environmental Affairs Seminar (Long Beach)

My presentation at ACI focused on the concept of social license to operate (SLO), which originated in the mining industry. The premise of SLO is straightforward: owners of businesses and other enterprises that generate negative externalities must secure permission from stakeholders in order to grow – sometimes even to operate. And that permission is earned (not simply granted), by engaging stakeholders in a relationship that evolves from acceptance to trust. As shown in the illustration below from Social License institute, deteriorating levels of trust can lead to active political engagement and protest, as we’ve recently seen with the No Fly movement.


EFCG CEO Conference (New York)

This annual gathering of almost 300 CEO’s of firms in the A&E industry provides great perspective on the state of the industry, trends in financial results and other industry benchmarks, and an opportunity for firm leaders to share experiences on all kinds of issues facing our industry, including talent shortages, ownership transition models, and implications of new business models, technologies, and regulations. My favorite moment of the conference was my realization – during a fancy dinner at the Harvard Club – that the nine other CEO’s I was dining with were more interested in talking about their pets than their businesses. CEOs are people, too.



AAAE Basics of Airport Law Conference (Washington)

John Putnam (KKR) and I provided a session on emerging noise issues. Much of that discussion focused on PBN issues, the challenges posed by NEPA requirements in evaluating PBN procedures (not only at individual airports, but on a metroplex scale), and implications of FAA Reauthorization on airport noise issues.



ACC Annual Conference (Newport Beach)

There was much discussion at the Annual Meeting on the need to engage politically in conversations about airport development. ACC President TJ Schultz’s knowledge and insight into FAA funding and other political realities provides ACC member firms (especially small ones like HMMH) with context for making strategic decisions. I am honored to have been elected incoming Secretary/Treasurer for 2016, and look forward to serving on the ACC Executive Board with Don Bergin and Roddy Boggus.



ACI-NA Marketing and Communications Conference (Nashville)

ACI-NA’s Marketing and Communications conference held a session on airport noise. This is very exciting to me because the longer I’m in this business, the more I’m convinced that a good deal of airport noise issues can be addressed by better communication. I’ve come to this for several reasons: (1) first, we know that only about 30% of people’s annoyance to aircraft noise can be attributed to the noise level – that leaves a lot of opportunity for using “non-acoustic” measures to address noise issues; (2) after 30+ years in this industry, I am positive that people don’t suddenly start complaining about aircraft noise unless there has been some change in their environment or their life: a new runway, a new procedure, a new home, a new job (and increasingly, retirement). Working with stakeholders to understand the reasons for those changes often goes a long way toward resolving annoyance – sometimes it can be addressed, but even when it can’t, folks generally are satisfied that they have been listened to and validated.

Bottom line: sometimes the best consulting one can offer is to listen.


Looking forward to a brief respite (though I’m presenting remotely to the Aircraft Noise Non-Acoustic Group (ANNA) in The UK on Thanksgiving – hopefully not messing up the turkey too badly in the process). Then back on the road again in December to wrap up the year at ACC/BAG Global Business Summit (London) and ACI/ACC Planning and NEPA Workshop (Washington).



Report from ACI-NA Environmental Affairs Conference

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

ACI-NA’s Annual Environmental Affairs Conference was held this week in Halifax, NS.  The agenda was robust and featured several innovations, including the use of TurningPoint polling technology and providing the ability for several travel-challenged speakers to participate remotely via webinar.   I had the privilege of participating directly in three sessions:

  • Is Perception Reality?  Human Health Studies & Risk Management – A Hypothetical Airport Case Study:  In this session, we conducted a “table-top” exercise of how airports respond to concerns about potential for health issues resulting from airport (noise, emissions, etc).  This interactive panel role-played an airport staff meeting – including a surprise visit by the concerned citizen, Mr. Bob Jones from Erewhon, YZ.
  • Technology Tools for Environmental Management:  this session provided an overview of GIS and other tools that are being to deployed to cost-effectively manage airport environmental issues.  My presentation, “There’s an app for that! Tools and technology for addressing aircraft noise issues” provided an overview of recent advances in noise monitoring.
  • Noise and NextGen:  I provided an update on the work of the RTCA’s CATEX 2 Working Group, which has finalized its recommendation to the NextGen Advisory Committee (it will be presented at the NAC on June 4).
Decibel 10th iphone app

Decibel 10th iphone app

Looking forward to the next Environmental Affairs Seminar in San Jose, CA at the ACI-NA Annual Conference.

Report from ACI World Environment Standing Committee

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I attended my first ACI World Environment Standing Committee meeting in Montreal Canada last week.  It was interesting to learn that airports struggle with many of the same issues around the world.

One of the emerging issues that will be coming to an airport near you is health effects of aviation.  It’s worth reading the World Health Organization’s publication Methodological guidance for estimating the burden of disease from environmental noise, which focuses on the concept of potential years of life lost due to premature death to include equivalent years of healthy life lost by virtue of individuals being in states of poor health or disability. One DALY can be thought of as one lost year of healthy life.

First World Problems, cont’d

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan,

For those of you wondering if I ever got home, here’s the exciting conclusion:

  • DL 2045 (DCA to DTW) scheduled departure 5:15 pm; actual departure 5:54 pm
  • DL 158 (DTW to BOS) scheduled departure 7:50 pm, actual departure 9:50 pm

Grand total for the trip:

  • 9 boarding passes
  • gate-to-gate Day 1: 6 hours
  • gate-to-gate Day 2: 11 hours
  • flight miles BOS-DCA: 393

People were remarkably patient with the situation. Sure they’re angry, but are placing the blame where it belongs: Congress.

I’d be tempted to call this a ‘Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day’, except I’m sure the air traffic situation will get worse before it gets better.  Also, after last week in Boston, it will be a long time before I really have a ‘Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’.

Alexander and the 'Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Vorst

Alexander and the ‘Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Vorst

If one of the main functions of society is to facilitate the movement of people and goods, I think we’re failing pretty spectacularly this week. First world, indeed.

First World Problems

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 1:30 PM

“Bring a book.”  That was the sage advice given to me by Chris Oswald at ACI-NA last Friday when I told him I was flying from BOS to DCA (via LGA!) on Monday, and back again on Tuesday – just as sequester furloughs are beginning to impact FAA Air Traffic Control (ironically, the trip was to attend a meeting at RTCA on accelerating implementation of NextGen performance based navigation procedures at airports).

So here I sit, at the end of Taxiway A, waiting for clearance from FAA, for what the pilot warned me (last passenger on the plane) would be a three hour delay.


Taxiway A, DCA, April 23, 3013, 1:32PM

So far, the rest of my trip has looked like this:

  • Monday, April 22, DL 5873 (BOS-LGA), scheduled departure: 8:00 am; actual departure: 9:30 am. 
  • Monday, April 22, DL 5911 (LGA-DCA), scheduled departure 10:59 am.  CANCELED.  Rebooked on DL 5907, which was originally scheduled for 9 am, ended up leaving at 12:30 pm.
  • Tuesday, April 23, DL 5916, scheduled departure 2 pm; CANCELED.  Rebooked on DL 5914 (1pm departure), which was assigned a 3-hour delay.  Flight re-numbered to DL 5912 (previously scheduled for 11:59 am and CANCELED).  Scheduled wheels up 2:40 pm.

I know this is only the first and most obvious impact of the sequester on the average voter.  It makes me wonder what less visible – but certainly not less important – government services are being curtailed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 3:32 PM

I thought I’d be able to wrap it up after that, but fate had other plans.  Since I last checked in, DL 5914/5912 was CANCELED, I was rebooked on DL 5918 (3 pm LGA Shuttle); by the time I arrived at the gate, it had been delayed until 5 pm.  Now rebooked on DL 2045 (through DTW), scheduled for 5 pm, but delayed to 5:40 pm (so far).  Meanwhile, DL 5918 (the delayed 3 pm is back on at 4:30 pm – we’ll see!).

Hopefully, routing around NYC will be the end of this, even if it means getting home at midnight.  I keep reminding myself that I should not be frustrated, but instead thankful for many things:  I’m not rushing back for anything urgent, I’m not traveling with kids, did not check my bags, and have several credit cards in my wallet.