Jim Halley joined the Aviation Division as Director of Planning and Programming in May 2020, after working at Florida Department of Transportation since 2014.
“I’m excited to be part of the Texas aviation family! We have a phenomenal team at AVN and we’re going to continue to accomplish great things,” said Halley.
Tell us about your background.
I was an Artillery Officer in the United States Marine Corps prior to becoming involved with aviation. As an artillery officer, I gained immeasurable experience in operations and safety management and team leadership, but also found that in the civilian work force there were not many opportunities for artillery officers. I was passionate about aviation and earned two degrees: a B.S. in Aviation Management from Florida Institute of Technology and MBA in Aviation from Embry-Riddle. Since I was working in Florida, I figured I would get degrees from the two major aviation schools to cover both bases! After working in the consulting world for a couple of years, I worked in airport operations at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport and then Palm Beach International Airport. It was a phenomenal experience working at Fort Lauderdale. It is one of the busiest general aviation (GA) airports in the world and has an economic impact to the community that rivals many commercial airports. I joined Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) in September 2014, as the Aviation System Manager and then became the Statewide Planning Coordinator in 2019 where I led efforts related to the Florida Transportation Plan and gained experience working with the Transportation Research Board, grants and compliance.
It can be challenging beginning a new job in a different state. Given our current COVID environment, can you discuss some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
For me it’s a challenge working from home. I am very much a person who thrives on being with people whether it’s at a conference or in the office. I much prefer face-to-face interactions and am ready to get back to normal. Of course I understand that our new normal will involve some level of remote work, and I can certainly work with people who are at home, but for me personally I miss the daily staff interaction.
What are some of the challenges general aviation is facing as we recover from the COVID economic slowdown?
I’ll brand this as an opportunity because I’m a glass half full person. Increasing education and awareness have historically, and still remain, GA’s biggest opportunity. This is so important for GA as the general public by and large does not fully understand the importance of GA to their area. When the Federal Aviation Administration released their ASSET study in 2012, it was a great first step. The need to advance GA awareness is going to be even more crucial coming out of the COVID pandemic. I love championing GA and the critical role it serves in the community from economic development to disaster relief. Revenue and operational diversification is something I also think will be highlighted as a result of COVID. This will help strengthen our system so that we are not just resilient in the face of adversity but actually come through stronger and better.
What are some of your goals for the planning group?
To plan and develop the safest system, and then increase and maintain the efficiency and economic viability of the system. Safety is my priority. In our section, our division…it has to be number one. I also believe in sustainability in all aspects by addressing the four-pronged approach of human, social, economic and environmental. All four are extremely important. We are striving for operational efficiency and resilience—why not get better from adversity? We got better in our recovery from 9/11 and the economic downturn 10 years ago. Aviation has a history of being stronger in the face of adversity. We take our hits but we come back stronger than ever.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
You might say I’m an adrenaline junkie, which is funny because at work I’m actually risk averse. I enjoy ultra-endurance events and skydiving. Really I enjoy anything outdoors. I’m a pilot so I use our aviation system by piloting and jumping out of planes (not at the same time). I have two dogs that I enjoy taking running. I view everyday as a gift and am going to live it to the fullest.