By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Texans like to brag that everything is bigger and better in their native state. That’s certainly true for the airport system in Texas, with nearly 300 general aviation (GA) airports, including 24 reliever airports, which stretch from Dalhart Municipal Airport in the corner of the Panhandle to Port Isabel-Cameron County in the Valley.
Overseeing this expanse of airports is the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Aviation Division, which is responsible for the planning and programming, engineering project management and grant management for what is among the largest state airport systems in the country. For more than three decades, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has supported the mission of the Aviation Division through various efforts.
The cornerstone of TTI’s statewide airport activities has been participation in TxDOT’s Regional Planning Meeting Program to develop and continuously improve the Texas Airport System Plan. For many years, TTI has assisted the Aviation Division in conducting public regional airport planning meetings across the state with airport managers, elected and appointed city and county officials, economic development officials, airport businesses, tenants, users and other interested parties. TxDOT is currently developing a new and improved airport planning meeting format which they hope to roll out across the state soon and TTI hopes to be there every step of the way as in years past.
“The Regional Planning Meeting Program was implemented in large part by (retired TTI Senior Research Scientist) George Dresser,” says TTI Research Scientist Jeff Borowiec. “This continuous airport planning process helps ensure that airports are meeting the needs of the communities they serve, and that the communities are utilizing their airport as an economic generator.” The meeting format and process has evolved over the years and the current changes are expected to improve the interaction with the airport sponsors and stakeholders while enhancing the level of information provided to the Aviation Division for airport planning purposes.
Borowiec has also conducted research and technical analysis in support of the TxDOT Aviation Division leadership and staff in planning and programming functions of the Texas Airport System. For examples of these projects, visit http://ttigroups.wpengine.com/aviation/planning_research/.
TTI staff also play major roles in the planning and execution of the annual Texas Aviation Conference. This conference attracts approximately 500 aviation officials from more than 20 states and provides professional development on the current issues, trends and challenges facing the aviation industry. TTI serves as technical program chair and handles major logistical responsibilities to ensure high-level speakers, sessions and workshops, as well as suitable facilities and resources for the conference.
For the past five years, TTI has collaborated with TxDOT’s Aviation and General Services divisions to produce Wingtips, a full-color, quarterly newsletter that serves as the official publication of TxDOT’s Aviation Division. TTI Research Editor Chris Sasser serves as the managing editor of Wingtips. “The goal of our publication is to tell the story of general aviation to our readers,” says Sasser. “There are a lot of great success stories out there of TxDOT helping airports become impressive economic generators for their communities.”
Through its diverse collaborative efforts with the Aviation Division, TTI hopes to continue their unique partnership for years to come.
“We have an excellent relationship with Jeff Borowiec and the staff at TTI,” says Aviation Division Director David Fulton. “Their support is an integral part of our service to Texas airports.”
For more information, contact Jeff Borowiec at 979/845-5200 or [email protected].