The Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey talks about the $30 Billion capital plan to rebuild airport facilities and the transportation infrastructure. In the news, an unruly passenger is fined almost $40,000 for costs related to the resulting flight delay, FAA certification for remote airport tower operations, public charter flights and regulatory loopholes, American Airlines flight attendants might strike, and the FAA is allowing graduates of college and university air traffic control programs to skip training and go right to ATC facilities.
Rick Cotton is Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a post he’s held since August 2017. The Port Authority has jurisdiction over the transportation infrastructure in the region, including air, land, rail, and sea. That includes five airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Stewart International Airport, and Teterboro Airport.
Rick describes the history and function of the Port Authority, and the $30B plan to create world-class facilities that include rebuilding the airports. We discuss transportation between the airport and the city, the focus on the curb-to-gate passenger experience, and even the pricing of airport food.
Before joining the Port Authority, Rick served as New York State’s Special Counsellor to the Governor for Interagency Initiatives. He focused on the State’s major downstate infrastructure projects such as LaGuardia and JFK Airports, the Moynihan Train Hall and Penn-Farley Complex, the new Tappan Zee Bridge, the expansion of the Javits Center, and the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway project.
Rick spent 25 years at NBC Universal, where he held several positions, including 20 years as EVP and General Counsel and four years in London as President and Managing Director of CNBC Europe. He also served as Executive Secretary to the Department at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr. and Special Assistant for Renewable Energy to Deputy Secretary of Energy John Sawhill at the U.S. Department of Energy. Rick received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. on the U.S. Supreme Court.
After pleading guilty to interfering with a flight crew member, the federal district court in Arizona ordered the passenger to pay American Airlines $38,952 in restitution for delay-related costs due to her actions. The woman was also sentenced to time served in prison (3.6 months) and three years of supervised release, during which time she cannot fly commercially without prior authorization. This stems from a Feb. 13, 2022 flight where the passenger used profanity and threatened flight crew members flying from Phoenix to Hawaii. The plane was diverted and returned to Phoenix.
See also: Woman Ordered to Pay Over $38,000 in Restitution for Interference with Flight Crew on Hawaii-Bound Flight from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona.
Searidge Technologies will end its five-year effort with Colorado’s Department of Transportation to implement a remote technology (RT) digital tower at Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland. Bob Poole writes that new FAA certification requirements have also forced Saab to discontinue its participation as the RT technology provider for the remote tower for Leesburg Airport in Virginia.
In March 2023, the FAA announced that to have a remote technology system certified for a U.S. airport, it must first be installed at the Atlantic City, NJ, airport. That is where the FAA Tech Center is located. In addition, the Tech Center staff must be allowed to reverse engineer the system over three years so the FAA can determine if the system meets FAA certification requirements.
Searidge Technologies is a provider of services for remotely managing air traffic control. The company says they have “technology at over 40 sites in 25 countries [and they] are a global leader and preferred partner for Digital Towers and Advanced Airport solutions.” Searidge is owned by NATS (UK). Other RT service providers include Saab, Frequentis, and Kongsburg.
“Public charter flights” have limited schedules (perhaps once or twice weekly) and set departure and arrival times. Booking is by individual seat and these flights are typically available during the tourist season. Flights are operated by tour operators or airlines that sell seats directly to passengers. Some charter operators offer these flights from private terminals and market themselves as providing flights without the hassle of the large terminals. (Avoid long security and boarding lines.) Dallas-based JSX is an example.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines want to see the safety and security of these operations examined. They consider public charters a “loophole.” Meanwhile, United Airlines and JetBlue don’t want to see any changes. But they each own a stake in JSX.
The American flight attendants are negotiating a new contract with the airline. The airline proposed a 19% pay rise over the four-year contract. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) wants a 50% pay rise.
The FAA is allowing graduates of college and university air traffic control programs to skip training at its own ATC academy in Oklahoma City and go directly to on-the-job training at ATC facilities.
The form is available through the Defense Department’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). That website provides official declassified information on UAPs, including pictures and videos, for the public to view. At this time, the form is not meant for the public but methods are being explored to change that. See DOD press release: The Department of Defense Launches the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office Website.
Hosts this Episode
Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, our Main(e) Man Micah, and Brian Coleman.