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 airports, including 24 reliever airports, which stretch from Dalhart Municipal Airport in the corner of the Panhandle to Port Isabel-Cameron County in the Rio Grande Valley.
Overseeing this expanse of airports is the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT’s) 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 is participation in TxDOT’s Regional Planning Meeting Program to develop and continuously improve the Texas Airport System Plan. TTI helps conduct 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.
“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 using their airport as an economic generator.”
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://groups.tti.tamu.edu/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 Division, 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.”