Tag Archives: Airport Imrpvement Program

Making Chicago Exec Better, Safer, More Efficient is Goal of New Airport Operations Coordinator

Andrew WolanikChicago Executive Airport’s new airport operations coordinator, Andrew Wolanik, who started work just before the year 2016 began, describes his responsibilities and his goals in simple terms. “Basically, I’m responsible for everything inside the airport fence and with the airport operations maintenance crew our goal is to make Chicago Exec a better, safer, more efficient environment for resident and visiting aviators and businesses.”

This ranges from seemingly mundane tasks like cutting the grass and coordinating the snow removal teams to other equally important tasks, like the daily inspection of all airport pavement for FOD, and removal of these items that can cause expensive Foreign Object Damage when an aircraft runs into or over it, or sucks it into an engine. Worldwide, FOD costs aviation about $13 billion a year, and the administration team does not want operations at PWK to add a penny to that total and, more importantly, doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.

“Runway 16 is 150 feet wide, and it is hard to see all of it, and to make sure the lights that line it, are in optimum operating order on a single pass,” Wolanik explained. So he updated the inspection routes defined by a standard operating procedure to increase the number of passes to give the pavement and lights a more thorough visual inspection, and the airport recently acquired a drag-behind 72-inch FOD magnet that collects the ferrous FOD that’s hard to see.

Coordinating snow removal operations is even more involved. Beyond scheduling the six full-time maintenance crew to shifts that ensure a continuous effort during the storm, Wolanik must employ the right equipment, the plows, rotating brooms, and snow blowers, in the proper sequence that is predicated on the type of snow. There’s a big difference between 2 inches of dry, light snow and 6 inches or more of the heavy wet stuff. And then there is ice. Dealing with it requires almost constant measurement of air and pavement temperatures, which play a critical part in the effectiveness of the anti-icing fluid sprayed on the pavement.

Discussing ways to improve the airport’s operating procedures—and address new challenges—is a collaborative effort most easily seen at the team’s regular safety meetings. The team, which this summer includes four interns, is more like a family, said Wolanik, and this in one of the leading reasons he applied for the position.

Wolanik, who graduated from Lewis University n 2010 with a degree in aviation administration, became a member of this family during his summer internships in 2009 and 2010. “Those were memorable summers,” said the Lake in the Hills native. “I had a lot of fun learning from people who became friends (some of whom attended my wedding), and I always wanted to come back here.”

Between graduation and joining the Chicago Exec family full time, Wolanik worked as a senior logistics coordinator at Priester Aviation, he said. This experience not only added an aviation dispatcher rating to his FAA certificate as an instrument-rated private pilot and advanced ground instructor, it gave him valuable insights on how general aviation operations work affects the operations of PWK’s aviation businesses. It is an important component of his holistic approach to making Chicago Exec a better, safer, more efficient place to fly.

Chicago Executive Airport, Part of the National Airport System

pwk photoAviation is all about systems, and it’s no different for airports. Most people in the Chicago Exec community know that PWK is a “reliever.” Aside from the obvious, that it “relieves” commercial airports like O’Hare and Midway of general aviation traffic, did you know that Chicago Exec is one of nearly 3,400 hundred airports in the National Plan on Integrated Airport Systems?

If the NPIAS is new to you, it identifies airports that are significant to national air transportation, and becoming part of this system is one of the qualifications for federal Airport Improvement Program grants that fund airport infrastructure improvements. Being just one of 3,400 such airports doesn’t sound like much, but consider this:

U.S. law defines an airport as “any area of land or water used or intended for landing or takeoff of aircraft including appurtenant area used or intended for airport buildings, facilities, as well as rights of way together with the buildings and facilities.”

This definition is the common denominator for the 19,299 airports in the United States. This includes seaplane bases and heliports, counted in 2014 (the most recent data) by the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Of that number, only 5,145 are public use; 13,863 are private; and the military owns 286.

The FAA categorizes airports by their activity. Commercial Service airports are publicly owned and have scheduled airline service that board at least 2,500 passengers a year. If it boards more than 10,000 passengers a year, it is a primary airport. Passengers boarded also categorize an airport’s hub status, Large, Medium, Small, and Nonhub.

A commercial service airport may also be designated Cargo Service if it has an annual “landed weight” of more than 100 million pounds. “Landed weight” means the weight of aircraft transporting only cargo in intrastate, interstate, and foreign air transportation.

Officially, the FAA defines (and designates) reliever airports as those that “relieve congestion at Commercial Service Airports and provide improved general aviation access to the overall community.” The FAA has designated nine Illinois airports as relievers, and six of them—Aurora Municipal (ARR); Chicago Exec (PWK); DuPage (DPA); Lake in the Hills (3CK); Lewis University/Romeoville (LOT); and Waukegan Regional (UGN)—surround Chicago.

Completing the system are general aviation airports. These public-use fields do not have scheduled service or board less than 2,500 passengers a year. They account for nearly 88 percent of the airports in the NPIAS. And reliever airports like Chicago Exec often offer them relief as well because its snow removal and other services that provide “improved access” to those who need it year-round.