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Boeing drone moves into production at Cecil Airport - 10/3/2014

Oct 3, 2014

Jensen Werley and Timothy Gibbons
Jacksonville Business Journal

The Boeing QF-16, a drone which is being constructed at Cecil Airport, has finished its testing phase and has moved into initial production.

The former F-16 aircraft are being converted into aerial targets that will be used as target practice by Air Force planes, according to Yvonne Johnson-Jones, senior communications manager at Boeing.

Before the aircraft could enter production, the company had to demonstrate that they could work without pilots, said Johnson-Jones. Preparation for that testing has been done at Cecil since 2010, with the drone recently undergoing live-fire tests and its first pilotless flights at White Sands. After that, the company won the Air Force contract for low-rate initial production.

Six F-16s were converted as proof of concept.

"Now that those tests have been completed, it's validated what we were trying to do," she said.

In an unrelated move, Boeing plans to bring 25 front-office support and service personnel to Jacksonville as part of a relocation of personnel from Washington state. Those employees will work on the Navy's P-8 Poseidon project, for which the company has received several recent contract modifications .

"It allows us to be closer to the customer and better attend to their needs," she said. "With jobs that are transferring there, it makes sense from a time zone perspective, working on the same timetable. We can better respond to them."

Source: http://ow.ly/Cg2Xy 

Jacksonville International Airport Conducts An Alert 3 Exercise - 10/2/2014

October 2, 2014
AVStop.com
Aviation Online Magazine

On Wednesday, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority conducted a triennial (every three years) emergency disaster preparedness exercise at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Florida.

The exercise allows the airport and first response agencies to evaluate emergency response systems, techniques, capabilities and communication networks as they relate to a major aircraft incident.

The exercise which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is a real life, full-scale, Alert 3, simulated event that would involve an actual aircraft accident or fire. The Alert 3 scenario began at 9 AM and lasted until 1 PM. The exercise started off with a pilot who had just departed the airport with over 100 hundred passengers onboard.

 
The pilot contacted JAX Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility (TRACON) to advise the controller that he was experiencing a mechanical problem onboard and was declaring an emergency and needed to return back to the airport.

TRACON cleared the pilot through its airspace and passed the pilot onto the airport tower, the pilot was cleared to land. Upon touchdown the aircraft had a hard landing, crashed and caught on fire. Onboard there were several passengers who needed immediate medial attention.

Over 20 different city and state agencies, including JFRD, JSO and area hospitals, participated in the event along with approximately 100 student volunteers from Raiders Health Academy at Orange Park High School, playing the roles of the victims.


Runway 14/32 was utilized for the exercise with numerous emergency vehicles in and around airport property. A temporary road closure was in effect along Pecan Park, between Woodwings and Terrell, from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The airport remained opened during the exercise and normal airport operations was not affected. JFRD Chief Martin Senterfitt said, "This is one of those low occurrence but high tragedy type events. Fortunately, this doesn't happen routinely, but that's why the exercise is so important."

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority which owns and manages the Jacksonville Airport System which includes Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Craig Airport (CRG), Herlong Recreational Airport (HEG) and Cecil Airport (VQQ) reported they noticed a marked improvement in communications between the different agencies and will evaluate responses to the drill and make improvements to the airport emergency plan as necessary.

Source: http://ow.ly/CcoAE

Agencies participate in plane crash drill at JIA - 10/2/2014

October 1, 2014
Lisa Robbins, First Coast News 

Several agencies participated Wednesday in the JAX Triennial Airport Disaster exercise at Jacksonville International Airport.

The drill was sponsored by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.

In January, officials started planning for the drill as part of a mandated Federal Aviation Administration disaster exercise. The airport is required to conduct a live, full-scale planned exercise every three years to evaluate a response to a regulated disaster, officials said.

During the drill, law enforcement and first responders were dispatched under a simulated 'Alert 3'. This is the most serious type of alert and involves an actual aircraft accident or fire.

Under the scenario, a pilot has contacted JAX TRACON to advise they are turning back to the terminal shortly after takeoff due to a problem in the cockpit. The pilot experiences a hard landing and crashes at JIA, forcing the plane to go up in flames. There are also several passengers on board who need immediate medial attention upon impact.

Students from Raiders Health Academy at Orange Park High School participated in the drill as victims for the second time in three years.

Lead instructor Rafael Ramos said he can tell a big improvement in communication between the different agencies involved.

"The inter-agency interaction is a lot better," he said.

JFRD Chief Martin Senterfitt said these drills help them prepare for possible mass casualty situations, no matter the location.

"This is one of those low occurrence but high tragedy type events. Fortunately, this doesn't happen routinely, but that's why the exercise is so important," he said.

JAA said it will evaluate all responses to the drill and make improvements to the airport emergency plan as necessary.

Source: http://ow.ly/Cckpv 

Fighter plane being built on First Coast debuts - 9/26/2014

September 25, 2014
Andrew Capasso, First Coast

More than 100 contractors and engineers are working at a facility on the city's Northside to build 20 A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes.

The planes will be used by the Afghan Air Force in their fight against insurgents.

"It's an important responsibility," said Gary Spulak, president of Embraer Aircraft Holding, Inc.. That's the company that won the $427 million contract to produce the planes.

Many of the workers building the planes have military experience.

"That's the key, that's the core of this whole thing, the skilled workforce," Spulak said.

It's expected that 20 of the planes will be completed by next June. At the Embraer hangar, eight planes can be worked on at the same time. It takes about five months to finish one plane.

"It's the perfect airplane for the battles being fought in Afghanistan," said Congressman Ander Crenshaw.

The A-29 Super Tucano will give the Afghan Air Force the ability to use weapons from the air. Rep. Crenshaw says that's something not readily available, and something that's desperately needed.

"This is very critical for Afghanistan as it stands up as a free and open democracy," he said.

One the planes are built, they'll go to the Moody Air Force Base so pilots can train on them. After that, they'll go to Afghanistan.

Source:  http://ow.ly/BYBde

New military planes roll out of Jacksonville plant - 9/26/2014

September 25 2014
Ashley Mitchem, morning reporter, and Kelly Goddard, Flagler College intern
News4jax.com


Sierra Nevada Corporation, Embraer Defense and Security and the U.S. Air Force held a roll-out ceremony Thursday at a North Jacksonville plant for the first United States-built A-29 Super Tucanos, a light-air support aircraft.

The aircraft, which also performs as an advanced trainer, is the first of 20 that are being delivered to the Air Force for its Light Air Support program, which supports the stability of Afghanistan as that country assumes increased responsibility for its own defense. 

Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw said after 13 years building up Afghanistan's military, it's important to teach them how to protect themselves.

"There is a real need in their air force they do not have the capability to protect their military forces from the air except in a very limited way right now," said Titshaw.

The training will take place at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta. The exercises will teach Afghan pilots how to help the security efforts in their own country.

So far, one A-29 is ready for flight and six more in various states of building, with a total of 20 that will go to the Afghan Air Force. It takes about five months to complete each aircraft.

“The Super Tucano is a robust and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions and, in more than ten years of operations, it has confirmed to be a cost-effective air power solution for nations around the world,” Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer.  “These characteristics, along with its well-proven combat record, make it highly reliable and the logical choice for the LAS mission.”

In March 2013, Embraer officially opened a 40,000-square-foot facility in Jacksonville to produce the LAS aircraft and to date has hired 72 employees. The facility in Jacksonville performs pre-equipping, mechanical assembly, structural assembly, systems installation and testing, and flight testing of A-29 aircraft. Through the LAS program, SNC and Embraer support more than 1,400 jobs with more than 100 companies throughout the United States.

Source: http://ow.ly/BYwn3

Guest column: Cecil Airport is poised to become a player in space industry - 9/12/2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The recent decision by Space Exploration Technologies Inc., better known as SpaceX, to build the nation’s first private launch facility in Texas was clearly disappointing news for Space Florida officials, who had aggressively pursued the project.
This will serve only to galvanize and solidify Space Florida’s pursuit of commercial space opportunities.

But all is not lost for Florida’s commercial space industry here in Northeast Florida, considering the status of the Cecil Airport and Spaceport facility.

Cecil Airport, the former Naval base now owned and managed by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, is well on its way to becoming a player in the exciting space industry. Cecil is one of the few airports in the U.S. — and the only one in Florida — licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a horizontal launch spaceport.

Last year, JAA signed an agreement with its first commercial space operator, Atlanta-based Generation Orbit.

TINY SATELLITES

What’s driving the industry now is the development of small satellites using nanotechnology. The industry has even created a standard format known as CubeSat, a 4-inch cube weighing just shy of 3 pounds. These tiny satellites are engineered and built by companies such as Planet Labs, Spire and Skybox in Silicon Valley.

Launching nanosats into suborbit is where Jacksonville enters the picture. Cecil Airport is ideally located for commercial space operations conducted by horizontal launch vehicles.

Cecil is close to the intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 95.

Add the necessary infrastructure and a well-trained, available workforce and the result is Generation Orbit, which successfully conducted its first test flight in July.

It will use a modified Gulfstream executive jet to carry a rocket, which it then fires (in-flight launch) to put the nanosats into low-Earth orbit.

Generation Orbit has a contract with NASA to launch its first payload in 2016.

Over the next five years, the industry expects that 1,000 nanosats will be launched either by vertical or horizontal liftoffs. Generation Orbit CEO John Olds says he expects his company will eventually operate two flights per month by 2019.

While Silicon Valley is expected to continue to be the epicenter of satellite development, Cecil is poised to be among the top horizontal launch spaceports. The rapid development of nano-satellites has occurred in just a few years, and there’s no telling where the industry will be in the future. But we can expect continued advances in commercial space.

STATE SUPPORT IN PLACE

Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature approved $2 million for Cecil Spaceport infrastructure improvements. And this week, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation held their biannual board and member’s meeting in Jacksonville. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation based in Washington, serves as the industry’s trade association and advocate regarding safety, operational and economic topics.

In conjunction with the Commercial Spaceflight board and member’s meeting, trade-industry experts gathered in Jacksonville for a Commercial Space Summit to discuss issues facing operators and spaceports involved in suborbital and low-space missions.

Both government and private industry recognize the potential for economic growth at Cecil Spaceport.

JAA had the foresight and desire to pursue the lengthy process of applying for a commercial spaceport license more than seven years ago. As a result, Jacksonville and Northeast Florida have gained a national reputation as a leader in this emerging industry.

Terri Davlantes is the chairwoman of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.

Source: http://ow.ly/BqggN 

Flightstar adding new hangars, jobs and customers come 2015 - 9/8/2014

Sept. 8, 2014
Jensen Werley
Reporter-Jacksonville Business Journal

Flightstar Aircraft Services — the heavy maintenance and repair company for transport category aircraft — has transformed itself from a mom-and-pop shop when it opened in 2000 to a rapidly growing industry giant.

The company will soon be expanding to a third, large hangar. When it open its doors for operations come Jan 1, it will be able to serve four to six more aircraft than its current capacity, a 40 percent increase.

"We're in the process of building and completing this hangar, and will move out of a small hangar we're subleasing," said Tucker Morrison, chief operating officer for Flightstar. "We've been bursting at the seams last two years."

Customers like FedEx, Delta and Southwest schedule with Flightstar when they will take a plane out of commission and bring it to the maintenance company for repairs, he said. Flightstar will do anything from corrosion prevention to structural repairs, and maintenance can take 10 to 50 days.

It can serve 9 to 12 planes, depending on the size. When the new hanger opens, it will be able to serve between 12 and 18 planes. The new facility is about 120,000 square feet.

With the new hangar, Flightstar will be able to further serve its current customers, and will possibly add more to its lineup.

"We've had a capacity crunch last few years," Morrison said. "We're turning away business, we're so full."

A key to adding new business was actually building and opening the hangar, said Morrison. Flightstar had to show that it could offer more capacity and wholly support customers before new ones signed on.

"It's 'build it, and they will come'," he said. "We need credibility for a plane to come in and do maintenance. We have that level of credibility with our customers. That allows us to expand and reach out to other customers."
Now, as even more work comes in, Flightstar is looking at ramping up hiring around the holidays. Then, it will evaluate its demand for 2015 and possibly add 200 to 300 people on top of its current 915 employees. When the company was founded, it had a staff of four people.

A key to its hiring, Morrison said, is to hire its employees two to three months before new customers come in, so the company is slightly overstaffed. In that time, employees can be trained well and then dispersed amongst the additional planes that need to be repaired.

"That way, we don't dilute our talent," he said.

Although nothing is set in stone, he said Flightstar is in talks with a couple of different customers, and is looking into the possibility of doing more freighter work. Flightstar is also in talks with its current customer base to work out their 2015-16 plans.

But Morrison said one of the best opportunities will be reaching out to potential customers that they didn't have capacity for previously.

"I'm most excited customers we've turned away," he said, "can come back."

Source: http://ow.ly/Bfty0

New flights announced between Jacksonville and Washington D.C. - 8/21/2014

Aug. 20, 2014
Jensen Werley, Reporter - Jacksonville Business Journal

JetBlue Airways has announced a new twice-daily nonstop service from Jacksonville International Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to a press release. Flights start Dec. 18.
 
Previously, only U.S. Airlines (sic) had nonstop flights from Jacksonville to Washington D.C., said Michael Stewart, director of external affairs for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. 

"Airlines make the determination on if the market has reached a level where they can add seats and make money," he said. "JetBlue has decided it can add the seats to this market. The market is growing."

The announcement is the latest in a string of Jacksonville flights that have rolled out recently: Silver Airways began nonstop service between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale this week, and JetBlue is offering a similar service starting at the end of October.
 
The new flights to Fort Lauderdale come in the aftermath of Southwest Airlines announcing it was ending flights between Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville.

Source: http://ow.ly/AAgWf

Silver Airways adds flights from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale - 8/20/2014

Aug 19 2014
Ashley Mitchem, Morning traffic, news reporter
News4jax.com

If you visit South Florida often, you'll be glad to know that despite the fact Southwest Airlines plans to cancel services between Jacksonville and Ft. Lauderdale, there is a way to fly out.

Silver Airways is continuing to expand its intra-Florida footprint and bringing more travel into Jacksonville International Airport.

Silver Airways took off with new services Tuesday, adding direct flights between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale.

"Another carrier announced they were leaving the route, on top of demand we see at our Tampa service and through customer comments," said Jamie Kogutek of Silver Airways.

Southwest Airlines is the one that cut off services. But Silver Airways has no problem adding the service because it further establishes it as the leader in intra-Florida flights.

It will have three daily flights, and might increase from there.

Michael Stewart, director of external affairs for Jacksonville Aviation Authority, said because major airlines are pulling out or switching to seasonal schedules, JAA is working on filling the holes left behind.

"Intrastate travel has been a challenge because most of the legacy carriers using large jets have not been profitable with fuel prices going up and demand being flat," Stewart said.

Silver Airways offers refundable flights, and right now there is a special offer for flights starting at $59. In addition, it is also restoring a third flight between Jacksonville and Tampa.

The airport said this is just a small part of what it hopes to roll out this year.

"We are looking at some destinations further west in the U.S. you could get to out of Jacksonville," Stewart said.

In addition to linking northeast and South Florida, the new service will enhance connection opportunities for travelers to the Bahamas and Key West, as well as more than a dozen additional destinations outside of Florida.

Source: http://ow.ly/AwYAh 

Silver Airways beginning Jacksonville-Fort Lauderdale flights - 8/19/2014

Spaceport test flight is giant leap for launch facility in Jacksonville Generation Orbit runs test launch - 7/31/2014

Jul 30, 2014
By Nate Monroe
jacksonville.com

Cecil Spaceport took a giant leap of sorts Wednesday.
The spaceport’s first tenant, Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch Services Inc., ran a test flight Wednesday in preparation for its first commercial launch near the end of 2016.

For the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, the test was the result of many years of small steps that helped land the spaceport at its west Jacksonville airfield, a former Navy base with one of the longest runways on the East Coast. JAA officials, hoping to tap into largely untested space tourism and cargo industries, worked for years to designate Cecil as a spaceport, which is now one of eight around the nation.

Generation Orbit specializes in launching “micro” and “nano” satellites — small enough to hold in your hand — from a rocket attached to an airplane that takes off and lands on runways like passenger jets, a method called “horizontal launching.”

Nothing was sent into space Wednesday.

A Learjet outfitted with a rocket held equipment that will help Generation Orbit collect data to prepare for its first commercial flights. NASA has bought the company’s first flight to launch three research satellites, a contract worth $2.1 million.

“We have our sights set squarely on that first launch, which is by the end of 2016,” said John Olds, the company’s chief executive officer.

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates commercial spaceflight.

A.J. Piplica, the company’s chief operating officer, said until Generation Orbit flies several commercial flights and becomes eligible for an operator’s license, the company will have to submit an application for a license for each planned flight. Generation Orbit is in the process of getting a license for the NASA launch through the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

That process takes about a year, Piplica said.

In December, Generation Orbit formally signed a two-year tenant agreement with JAA with an option to renew for three one-year terms.

Olds said the company wants to plant a foothold in the nascent commercial space business.

Generation Orbit, he said, “is not one and done.”

Olds said in 2017 the company projects running eight flights for customers. By 2019, the company projects running up to two flights a month, 24 per year.

JAA will match a $1.8 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and Space Florida, the state agency in charge of fostering the space industry, to construct a hangar designed to accommodate commercial launch vehicles. Generation Orbit will use that hangar when it’s complete sometime next year.

Earlier this year, JAA learned the state set aside $2 million to help pay for basic infrastructure at the spaceport. That money does not require a match.

Nate Monroe: (904) 359-4289

Source: http://ow.ly/zNc10

WWII vet returns home after trip to Normandy - 6/12/2014

June 11, 2014
First Coast News

A hero's welcome was waiting for Wednesday at JIA for a local World War II veteran who returned to Normandy for the D-Day Invasion ceremony.

Related: Fire fighters create campaign to send WWII vet to France

He flight was delayed, but Herb Griffin likely didn't mind judging from his reaction when a large crowd of people greeted him and his brother when they walked into Jacksonville International Airport.

FCN reporter Mike Lyons was among the crowd and talked to Herb live during the 7 p.m. show.

You can watch his arrival in the (link below).

Source: http://ow.ly/xW9lY

Cecil Spaceport gets $2 million budget boost State budget includes money for infrastructure - 6/4/2014

Jun 3, 2014
By Nate Monroe
jacksonville.com


The Jacksonville Aviation Authority got a boost for Cecil Spaceport in the state’s budget next fiscal year.
 
JAA will receive $2 million that will help develop basic infrastructure at the nascent west Jacksonville airport, which signed its first tenant in December.
 
“The state’s support for Cecil and this developing industry is critical,” said Steve Grossman, JAA’s executive director and chief executive officer, in a statement. “If the commercial space industry doesn’t come to Cecil, it will likely not come to Florida for at least another four or five years.” 

Generation Orbit Launch Services Inc. of Atlanta is preparing for test launches off Cecil’s runway this year in anticipation of its first commercial flight in 2016. The company specializes in launching “micro” and “nano” satellites from a rocket attached to an airplane that takes off and lands on runways like passenger jets.
 
Last year, the spaceport received a $1.8 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and Space Florida to help build a hangar that will accommodate Generation Orbit. That grant requires JAA to match the $1.8 million. 

The $2 million in the state budget does not require a match, said Michael Stewart, JAA’s external affairs director.
 
“This gives us a good bump,” he said.
 
Nate Monroe: (904) 359-4289

Source: http://ow.ly/xCimO 

Cecil Spaceport receives $2 million in state budget - 6/3/2014

Jun 3, 2014

Jensen Werley
Reporter-Jacksonville Business Journal

The state is budgeting $2 million to build necessary infrastructure for development of Cecil Spaceport.

“This is an important step in the development of Cecil Spaceport,” said JAA Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman in a press release. “The state’s support for Cecil and this developing industry is critical. If the commercial space industry doesn’t come to Cecil, it will likely not come to Florida for at least another four or five years.”

The first tenant agreement at Cecil Spaceport was signed in December, with Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch Services, which is developing an in-flight suborbital space launch platform to perform research.

Test flights are expected to begin at Cecil as early as August, according to the release, and operational launches expected in 2016.

Advocates hope the company’s announcement will be the first of many for the Westside site, one that boasts a runway long enough to handle the space shuttle.

Source: http://ow.ly/xArJ2 

Gov. Scott signs budget that supports Cecil Spaceport - 6/3/2014

June 3, 2014
actionnewsjax.com

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott signed a $77 billion budget into law on Monday, which includes $2 million to build infrastructure necessary for the development of Cecil Spaceport.

According to a Jacksonville Aviation Authority news release, JAA is appreciative of the support provided by the Florida Legislature, including members of the First Coast Legislative Delegation, the Florida Department of Transportation and Space Florida.

“This is an important step in the development of Cecil Spaceport,” said JAA Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman. “The state’s support for Cecil and this developing industry is critical. If the commercial space industry doesn’t come to Cecil, it will likely not come to Florida for at least another four or five years.” 

In December 2013, JAA signed its first tenant agreement at Cecil Spaceport with Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO), the release said. The test flights are expected to begin at Cecil in August, with operational launches anticipated in 2016.

Source: http://ow.ly/xAeSY 

At-risk youth group graduates inaugural JAXEX High Achievers Program - 5/29/2014

May 28, 2014

Jensen WerleyReporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

High Achievers — an at-risk youth program created through JAXEX and the Police Athletic League — graduated its inaugural group of students Thursday.
 
The program was created when the league was looking to expand its academic curriculum, and JAXEX — also known as Craig Airport — wanted more community involvement.
 
Tiffany Gillem, airport manager for JAXEX, said the program was designed to expose students to aviation and its related careers.

"Typically when I speak to young people, and inquire what they now about aviation jobs, it's always a pilot or flight attendant," she said.
 
To remedy this, JAXEX sought out help from its tenants and other partnerships, to expose the students to the wide spectrum of aviation-related careers.
 
Based on positive feedback, Gillem said they will be looking to bring back the High Achievers program for a new group of students.
 
The group of students, whose ages ranged from 13 to 18 years old, learned about aircraft maintenance and aerial photography through Malone Air Charter, air traffic control through contracted tower operators RVA, Inc. and airport management at JAXEX. 

On the last day of the four month program, the students learned about professional development, like what to wear to an interview, how to make a resume and even what mistakes can keep them from getting jobs in aviation.
 
The group started with 20 participants and ended with 8 graduates— youth members had to show engagement, complete homework assignments, and write an essay at the end of the program.
 
They learned Jacksonville Aviation Authority's internship program and were able to network with tenants who may provide their own internships, job shadowing or opportunities to tour the facility. Three older students were eligible to attend a summer aviation camp, based on the quality of their essays.
 
"We're looking for ways to get positive impact for youth," said Gillem. "Hopefully I've opened the door to help them."
 
Marshall Wood, marketing director for Malone Air Charter, one of the tenants involved with High Achievers, said he saw getting involved not only as a chance to help children, but to also show the economic importance of aviation and how important Craig Airport is for the community.
 
"Personally I'm just all about that, simply because an airport is not something the average young person, particularly those from minority backgrounds, have any experience with at all," he said. "When I show young folks the world aviation, they're like a kid in a candy store. It amazes them."
 
Randy Crews, a sergeant with Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, who has worked with PAL for two years, said that PAL and the High Achievers program gets students thinking about options they never thought they had.
 
"The demographic we serve do not have that opportunity to say, 'hey that's achievable, I can do this,' without someone putting them in the right direction," he said. 

Crews presented the idea of involving PAL with JAXEX after he thought about the own life and the confidence he gained after getting his pilot's license. He said the process is difficult, and being able to do that allows someone to feel like they can achieve anything.
 
"The confidence aviation gave me is what made me what I am today," he said.
 
He said PAL is open to the public, and specifically targets children who have not gotten into trouble, but are at-risk for doing so if they didn't have a reason to get involved in the community.
 
"These are good kids, excellent children," Crews said.
 
He said many of the students testified at their commencement that not only did the High Achievers program show them they had options, but that going into aviation is something they want to achieve.
 
"This is such a unique opportunity," he said. "It's opening up options galore for them."

Source: http://ow.ly/xo1RV 

JetBlue adds flights between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale - 5/28/2014

May 28, 2014
Jensen Werley Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

JetBlue is adding nonstop flights between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale, starting Oct. 29, the company announced Wednesday.
 
Tickets are on sale now and until May 30 will cost $69, one way, for flights between Oct. 29 and Dec. 17.
 
"This new route will provide business and leisure travelers with affordable and award-winning nonstop full-size jet service between these two vibrant cities," Dave Clark, vice president of network planning for JetBlue Airways, said in a press release.

This announcement is the second of its kind this week. Silver Airways also announced new flights between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale that will start later this year.
 
The two new services are in response to Southwest Airlines' announcing it will no longer offer flights from the Fort Lauderdale area, said Debbie Jones, community relations administrator for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. 

"Southwest is pulling flights from Fort Lauderdale," she said. "These other carriers are picking up that market." 

Southwest will continue flights to and from Jacksonville, where it is one of the airport's largest carriers, she said.
 
"All the airlines make these decisions as to which markets are profitable to them," she said. "We never like to see something go away, but we are glad that other carriers have decided to fill that niche."

Source: http://ow.ly/xmtnK 

Silver Airways flying between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale - 5/28/2014

May 28, 2014
Jensen Werley, Jacksonville Business Journal

Silver Airways, a Ft. Lauderdale-based regional airline, announced Tuesday it will begin daily non-stop flights between Jacksonville and Ft. Lauderdale, starting Aug. 19.
 
Fliers can purchase one-way tickets for $79 between now and May 29 for flights between the Aug. 19 start date and Nov. 5.
 
Misty Pinson, director of corporate communications for Silver Airways, said the company is excited to offer the new flights to both business and leisure fliers.

"It's great for both," she said. "Business travelers can fly back and forth on the same day. For leisure travelers, they can avoid the hassle of driving, and for $79, it's cheaper."
 
She said Silver Airways decided to connect the flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Jacksonville because the city is both a destination for business potential and a hub of Northeast Florida, she said.
 
"Florida is our home. We have service in more cities in Florida than any other airline, and more service between Ft. Lauderdale and the Bahamas than any other airline," she said.
 
Debbie Jones, community relations administrator for Jacksonville Aviation Authority, said they are excited Silver Airways is expanding its Jacksonville services.
 
"We're really pleased that they have the confidence in the market that they want to expand their operation here in Jacksonville," she said.
 
She said the aviation authority is prepared for the additional flights.
 
"Absolutely, we're ready for them," she said. "We always welcome airlines to add flights."

Source: http://ow.ly/xmshu 

Wine flights, arriving daily: Vino Volo debuts at JIA - 5/1/2014

April 30, 2014
by Jay Magee
jaymagee.com

As longer connection times, late arrivals and a host of other hassles have tarnished the once-friendly skies, airports have stepped in to provide weary travelers with more terrestrial delights between their flights. Massage stations, rock-climbing walls and libraries are some of the many amenities you’ll find in 21st century air terminals.
 
And so it goes with Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), which is banking on wine to soothe the weary traveler and connoisseurs alike with the Vino Volo wine lounge, shop and restaurant.
 
The 9-year-old, 35-location San Francisco-based chain, entrenched predominantly in North American airports, landed in JIA’s Terminal C last Thursday. It’s the chain’s first outlet in Florida and the Southeast in general.
 
Vino deals primarily in reds, whites and the occasional bubbles, by the glass ($8-29) or the bottle, with local and regional varietals selected by local management. About half of what you’ll find here can be tracked down at other retail outlets, with the balance from exclusive deals with vineyards. Based on demand, wine menus can rotate each week, but usually monthly. Flights of three glasses always are available ($10-20), served on metallic trays with perforated coasters that share the lineage of your chosen glass.
 
You’ll also find a crafty collection of small bites, entr?e-size plates and a sweet treat or two ($3-17). Think Brie & Prosciutto Sandwiches, Smoked Salmon Rolls, Roasted Lamb Meatballs, etc. But make no mistake, the focus here is clear.
 
“Wine is food,” proclaimed Marco Di Bernardo, the chain’s director of development, who swooped in for a soft-opening gathering on Wednesday with airport staff and board members.
 
Vino’s post-security location near the midpoint of the A and C terminals makes it a convenient spot for most travelers, at most a 2-minute-long huff to the far reaches of either. Because it is after your run-in with TSA, passengers can cork their liquid purchases for carry-on to their next destination, or to enjoy in-flight (depending on your airline’s regulations).
 
For the truly time-pressed traveler, Di Bernardo said the number-one thing Vino Volo can do to serve them is to educate them about various wines, some of which they may have never tasted based on regional variations. And since JAX is known as an origin-and-destination airport (the place where most travelers stay or return to vs. connect elsewhere), it’s easy for most to arrive home from a trip and have more time to make purchases.
 
Vino Volo is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. You’ll have to have a valid boarding pass and ID to stop by. Visit vinovolo.com to learn more about the chain. For other food and dining options at JIA, check out flyjax.com.

Source: http://bit.ly/PTzUgR

Wine bar prepares to open at JIA - 4/22/2014

April 21, 2014
actionnews.com

A first-of-its-kind wine bar will open for business at Jacksonville International Airport on Thursday.

Vino Volo, a wine tasting lounge and retail wine shop, will open their only Florida location in Terminal C.
  
 The contemporary styled shop will offer travelers alcoholic beverages from all over the world.
 
Travelers will be able to enjoy wines by the glass, wines by the bottle and gourmet wine-pairing food plates food.
  
 Flyers will also have the option of purchasing wines to carry on-board flights or having the bottles shipped to one’s destination.
 
Vino Volo currently operates in 18 different airports across the country.

Source: http://bit.ly/1nlVHMP

Everybody wins - 4/21/2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014
Written by  Benet Wilson 
www.airport-world.com

Benet Wilson talks to a handful of airports that have used ACI’s Airport Service Quality survey to enhance the passenger experience and strengthen their brand.

Jacksonville International Airport
 
Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) has ranked fifth of all North American airports in ACI’s annual customer satisfaction survey for the last 
two years. It was also fifth among airports worldwide serving 5-15 million passengers in 2008 and 2009.
 
The airport uses customer feedback, including data from the ASQ survey, internal comment forms, social media, and face-to-face customer interaction, to improve the passenger experience, says Bryan Long, Jacksonville’s customer service manager.
 
Airport improvements include: creating a standardised customer service training initiative for all employees; upgrading bathrooms; offering improved flight, gate, and baggage information screens; providing free Wi-Fi; delivering more food and beverage offerings for longer hours; creating a ‘Preferred Traveller’ lane at the security checkpoint; and building improved signage.
 
Long also credited its Volunteer Airport Ambassadors, 55 people from all walks of life who donated nearly 10,000 hours of their time in 2013 to help customers.
 
“We would not have the great reputation for customer service without our ambassadors,” he smiles. “Also, the leadership and hard work of the entire Jacksonville Aviation Authority staff is the foundation which makes us one of the best airports in the world. The success of all depends on each team member.”

The idea of ranking is central to the nature of competitive spirit, says Long. “But being ranked the best for a given period of time, is not as important as steady improvement over time. The goal should always be consistent improvement in each area,” he states.

“The ASQ programme helps us plan both short and long-term goals designed to improve the quality of our delivery and enhance the brand, making JAX a desired location to fly to. Awards will come and go, but the goal is consistent, relentless improvement.”  

Jacksonville is about always striving for higher satisfaction, says Long. “Where we do use the awards are when we work with our airline partners to grow new services or get more seats,” he reveals.
 
“The awards are also useful for our regional economic development teams who are bringing new businesses to the area.  The quality of air service plays a big factor when companies are scouting for locations.”

Source: http://bit.ly/1eWYidB

Jacksonville International Airport sees gun rates triple, but no arrests since 2004 - 4/5/2014

By Andrew Pantazi, Fri, Apr 4, 2014
jacksonville.com

Each year, more and more Jacksonville International Airport passengers are stopped at security checkpoints with guns, a rate that tripled in just two years, jumping from 10 to 30.

Each time, airport police let the passengers go, fines in one hand and their guns in the other.

Jacksonville Aviation Authority police have not arrested any passengers stopped with guns in a decade because, interim airport Public Safety Director Lt. Mark Stevens said, all of them mistakenly brought the guns with them and had no criminal intent.

Despite the growing number of guns finding their way to security checkpoints, Jacksonville Aviation Authority executive director Steven Grossman said, his complex is safe. The security staff has almost doubled in the last five years, and he argued the airport is safer than ever.

Still, the State Attorney’s Office said if a crime has been committed, it always would review the case and potentially bring charges if police arrest the passengers.

In 2011, 10 passengers at the Jacksonville airport brought guns to the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, whether in a carry-on or on their body. The next year, security stopped 19 people with guns. In 2013, security stopped 30 passengers with firearms.

Federal Transportation Security Administration officers cannot arrest armed passengers, but the agency does fine them up to $11,000 and up to $3,000 if the guns are not loaded. The officers turn over the guns to airport police with a criminal referral, but it’s up to police to decide whether to arrest the passengers.

In Jacksonville, police detain the passengers and interview them, but if they decide the passengers brought the guns to the checkpoint by accident, they return the weapons. Passengers can then properly store their firearms in checked baggage, store them in their cars or leave the weapons with friends. They are allowed to continue on their flights.

“Somebody who makes a mistake like that, is it really justified that they have an arrest on the record?” Grossman said. “That carries a lot of consequences. A lot of job applications ask if you’ve ever been arrested. Not if you’ve been convicted, just if you’ve been arrested. That seems like a pretty high penalty to pay. If we have reason, we will absolutely arrest somebody.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported last month that Orlando International Airport authorities arrest every passenger who brings a gun, with two exceptions out of 44 last year, according to the police. Orlando police Sergeant Roger Brennan did not return four phone calls, multiple phone messages and an e-mail asking for comment on his agency’s policy.

If it’s obvious the passenger wasn’t trying to sneak the gun past security, Jacksonville’s airport police director Stevens said he doesn’t see why the passenger needs to be arrested. He also wondered how effective Orlando’s policy is.

“Even though you’re physically arresting them, how many cases are you bringing to trial?” Stevens asked.

The Ninth Circuit State Attorney’s Office prosecutor and spokesman Richard I. Wallsh said most of the cases don’t end in a conviction. To convict a passenger, the prosecutors would need to prove the passenger knowingly brought the gun to the airport. Instead, many cases are not prosecuted, or the cases are resolved in a pre-trial diversion program that avoids a conviction.

“Even though people get arrested here, it is unusual that they would get a felony or misdemeanor conviction,” he said.

Just this week, a 49-year-old Ohio woman was arrested on felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon without a license at the Orlando airport in her carry-on bag. Julie Powell said she didn’t realize the gun was inside the suitcase, which she borrowed from her father.

Months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Transportation Security Administration was formed, along with a ban against bringing guns to security checkpoints. The federal ban, though, only includes civil fines. It’s up to local law enforcement and local and state laws to decide if bringing guns to a security checkpoint is worthy of arrest.

Jacksonville’s airport policy of not arresting passengers is more normal than Orlando’s, according to David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees union that represents Transportation Safety Administration workers. He said he doesn’t accept the idea that passengers brought the guns on accident, and he wants them arrested.

“Fifty people a week show up with a gun at airports around the country. The majority of those guns are loaded,” Borer said. “… With officers assaulted and now killed, the law enforcement needs to do their job.”

He said the union has proposed creating its own law-enforcement agency capable of arresting passengers for violating state or federal law.

Donald Thomas, the local union president and a Transportation Security Administration screener in Orlando, said more guns show up because screeners and the technology are getting better at finding them and more people are carrying weapons in Florida. By the end of March, 1.4 million residents had concealed weapon permits in Florida.

“A lot of people in Florida have guns, and they forget it’s in the bags,” he said. “There are a lot of people who’ve got guns now who aren’t used to having them.”

Borer doubted a passenger could accidentally bring a gun. Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said the agency takes it very seriously when passengers bring guns to security checkpoints.

She pointed out that sometimes passengers use the same bag previously used on a road trip and forget about a gun that was left stowed away.

“As more time has passed since 9/11,” she said, “many passengers have become lax in packing for a flight. The same suitcase may have been used for road trip, so you need to unpack before you pack for a flight. … It is the passenger’s responsibility to know what is in their suitcase.”

Jacksonville Aviation Authority police director Stevens said potential passengers have no reason to worry. “The safety of the flying public is our utmost concern,” he said. “Thirty guns seems like a lot, but we’re catching them and that’s the most important thing.”

Stevens, who has been at the airport police since 2010, said it’s his understanding that from 2001 to 2004, police arrested passengers and the State Attorney’s Office wouldn’t prosecute the cases because there was no criminal intent. In 2004, police stopped arresting passengers unless it was clear they were trying to sneak the guns past security. Asked for a copy of that policy, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority did not produce it, saying that it is sensitive security information.

Jackelyn Barnard, the spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office, said the new administration is unaware of the airport policy, and “If charges are warranted, charges will be filed.”

Grossman, the airport’s top executive, said police look for repeat offenders, and to his knowledge, no passenger has brought a gun to the safety checkpoint twice. Comparing the Orlando and Jacksonville airports’ policies, he said, is tricky.

“In my business, the saying is if you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seen one airport. We’re all different,” he said. “We have a pretty simple airport with one checkpoint all passengers go through. We can provide an excellent layer of security rather easily.”

Andrew Pantazi: (904) 359-4310

Source: http://bit.ly/1fTzbCY

Georgia crash puts Arlington residents on edge Advocates still pushing for longer runway at Craig Airport - 3/26/2014

Mar 25 2014
Hailey Winslow, General assignment reporter
News4jax.com

The search for a twin-engine plane that went down 70 miles north of Jacksonville has East Arlington residents again discussing whether or not the runway at Craig Airport should be extended.

Federal authorities said a twin-engine Piper PA-44 flying from Concord, N.C., to Jacksonville Executive at Craig disappeared from radar Monday evening near St. Simons Island.

Neighbors worry after plane crash

The plane is believed to belong to the ATP Flight School, based at Craig Airport.

This comes amid continuing discussions about extending the main runway at Craig Airport from 4,000 to 6,000 feet to allow more business aircraft to use the facility.

"There is no reason that Craig Airport in the last 20 years has not had its runway extended," said Marshall Wood, director of marketing for Malone AirCharter. "It has to happen. There's an economic imperative."

But Greater Arlington Civic Council president and city planner Lad Hawkins says extending the runway raises safety and noise concerns and would hurt property value of homeowners in the area.

The most recent of several crashes around Craig Airport was a plane that went down in a Sandalwood neighborhood pond in December, narrowly missing a home and killing a South Florida pilot and his two daughters.

"Craig Field is going to stay a little airport, and we're going to build lots of houses around it, and that's still our plan," Hawkins said.

Hawkins says in 1990, city leaders adopted a comprehensive plan for Jacksonville which clearly states "runways at Craig Field shall not be extended."

"The future is, if they extend one runway, then later on they may extend another runway, and then link to that runway," Hawkins said. "You can't stop it once the horse gets out of barn."

Hawkins says the money would be better spent at Cecil Field, Jacksonville Aviation Authority's regional airport on the Westside.

"If you had $20 million and you wanted to spend it, you should spend it there, not here for a couple fat cats who live in Ponte Vedra and want to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina, in their jets because they're too lazy to drive up to JIA," Hawkins said.

A spokeswoman for Jacksonville Aviation Authority said there are no current plans to extend the runway at Craig, but it remains a possibility in the future.

Source: http://bit.ly/P1zMvu

Food notes: Vino Volo to open at Jacksonville International Airport - 2/24/2014

Monday, February 24
jaxdailyrecord.com

The city approved a permit Thursday for Vino Volo to renovate space in Concourse C at Jacksonville International Airport. The San Francisco-based company plans to build-out a 1,150-square-foot space for a wine bar and caf? at a project cost of $282,020.

“Vino Volo Discover Great Wines” is planned in No. 209 in the concourse. The vinovolo.com site says Vino Volo operates in cities and airports across North America. The site lists 24 locations. Of those, some airports have multiple Vino Volos.

Most locations offer lunch, dinner and small plates and some offer breakfast.

The website also has an online wine shop.

The permit lists tenant finish-out for space for a wine bar and sandwich shop.

Source: http://bit.ly/1hqfbJU

Cecil stakes a claim to space - 2/21/2014

February 21, 2014
Timothy Gibbons
Managing Editor-Jacksonville Business Journal

It’s a dream almost a decade in the making.

In 2005, City of Jacksonville officials embarked on plans to make Cecil Field — the former Navy base turned airport/commerce center — into a locus of aerospace activity, a launching pad for wannabe space tourists like Backstreet Boy Lance Bass.

For years, the idea seemed to go about as well as, say, Bass’ career. Now, that all seems to be changing.

Late last year, a first tenant signed up to launch operations at Cecil Spaceport.

Later this year, that firm — Generation Orbit Launch Services Inc., an Atlanta-based commercial space launch provider — plans to send aloft from Cecil a horizontally launched vehicle as part of a plan to convey a miniature satellite into space.

Advocates hope the company’s announcement will be the first of many for the Westside site, one that boasts a runway long enough to handle the (late, lamented) space shuttle.

If more announcements follow, it could signify the beginnings of a new industry sector in Jacksonville: More launches at Cecil could attract a plethora of related companies, from fabricators to technologists — and if space tourism becomes a reality, the spinoff effects could reach as far as the hospitality industry.

“We need something like that, something that will mark the start of a new era,” said Juan Merkt, director of Jacksonville University’s Davis Aviation Center. “As Cecil starts to play a role in horizontal space launches and attracts more business to the area, this is definitely going to benefit the city, its educational institutions, you name it.”

Space is a growing market. Over the next 10 years, the Federal Aviation Administration projects, there will be demand for some 4,500 flights ... and if interest grows, that number could top 13,000.

“We have evolved to the point that commercial space is a reality,” said Todd Lindner, administrator of planning and development for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, which owns the spaceport.

Commencing launch sequence

That evolution took years.

The idea of Cecil as a spaceport first came to the fore in 2005, when a consultant working for the state’s Commission on the Future of Space and Aeronautics in Florida called Cecil the “the best airport for aircraft-like launch vehicles” — that is, horizontal launches — because of its 12,500-foot runway and relative lack of encroaching development.

During a breakfast meeting during the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, local economic development officials pitched representatives of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic on the idea of establishing a spaceport at Cecil (a project that was later done in New Mexico).

At the time, the state was considering picking a site to serve as Florida’s first commercial spaceport, particularly in light of the winding down of operations at Cape Canaveral, where various restrictions made the site less appealing to private businesses.

But shifting political winds and restructuring of the state’s space agency caused those plans to die on the vine. Instead, JAA embarked on its open application to be licensed as a launch site.

In 2007, the FAA signed off on an environmental assessment of the airport, and three years later, the aviation authority had its operator’s license in hand. (Operators are also required to obtain their own licenses.)

That didn’t mean it was ready to start sending stuff into space yet.

“The parallel is often drawn between the state of commercial space travel now and the aviation industry shortly after the Wright brothers inaugurated powered flight,” says the Cecil Spaceport Master Plan drawn up in 2012. “Just as they could not have foreseen the pace and direction of aviation development, so is it difficult now to see the path of space development. What is clear, however, is that commercial space vehicles are coming, and they will need facilities from which they can operate.”

Looking for space

That’s where Generation Orbit comes in.

With $1.8 million from the state, JAA is in the process of building a hangar that will be used by the Atlanta-based company as well — the authority’s Lindner said — as other companies.

“We’ve had conversations with most of the horizontal launch operators out there,” he said. “They’re very open to Jacksonville.”

Generation Orbit noticed Cecil because of the infrastructure already in place there, said A.J. Piplica, an aerospace engineer and the company’s chief operating officer.

“They have a spaceport license with the FAA already in place,” he said. “A lot of people are talking about building spaceports; they have everything in place that we need from a regulatory standpoint as well as a facility standpoint.”

That includes a path that its launch vehicle can go through between leaving the spaceport and heading for the stars. “What has been developed is a corridor that goes from Cecil out to the Atlantic Ocean,” said Ken Ibold, an aviation consultant with Reynolds, Smith and Hills Inc. — a pathway some other airports have struggled to create.

Cecil also has enough clear space around the runway to meet safety requirements.

Generation Orbit’s vehicles are a far cry from the gigantic rockets that filled the skies of Cape Canaveral with flames: From the outside, the launch vehicles look — and take off — like business jets.

In Piplica’s words: “We’re not making any smoke or noise until we’re a couple hundred miles offshore.”
Still, keeping them away from people is the better part of valor, Ibold said: “You wouldn’t do this at JIA. You certainly wouldn’t do this at Craig.”

What that smoke and noise will do is send into space very small satellites.

Basically, just as the technology in cellphones has gotten both smaller and more powerful, Piplica said, so has satellite tech. That means that units can be launched with the expectation that they won’t last as long, but that they can be replaced just about as often as you sign a new iPhone contract.

“We’re starting to get into people who didn’t think they could use data from space because it was too expensive,” he said.

2014 should see the company conduct two test launches from Cecil in preparation for the 2016 launch of three, 10-pound satellites that will go 265 miles up.

As the company is getting ready for those launches, the aviation authority is getting ready for more tenants. The spaceport hangar, now in the design phase, will be around 45,000 to 55,000 square feet, including an ultra-clean area for securing payloads.

The final frontier?

Despite all of that in the works, JAA holds out a note of caution: The countdown might have started, but that doesn’t mean ignition is about to occur.

It will take on the order of two to three years for Cecil to become a facility that sees regular launch operations, Lindner said, and years beyond that for an industrial base to build up.

It can be a challenge, Ibold said. “There’s lots of pieces of the puzzle to put together. There’s the issue of trying to develop something for an industry in its infancy, for vehicles that don’t really exist.”

But Cecil has a lot going for it, Piplica said.

“Once you see someone doing something in space from there, you’ll see other people attracted to the area,” he said. “If it shows it’s a successful place to access space, it has a chance to develop into a commercial version of what the Cape was back in the ’60s.”

Source: http://bit.ly/1eecSpV

Kids with autism get airport test run: 'Next time the anxiety level will not be so high' - 2/5/2014

Feb 4, 2014
By Beth Reese Cravey
jacksonville.com

Max Moran, 12, makes his way down the aisle of a JetBlue airplane with his mother, Mariam. JetBlue has been involved in the "Wings for Autism" program for three years.

Michelle Dunham and her 15-year-old son Nicholas, who has autism, held hands as they navigated Jacksonville International Airport.

She worried how he would react to walking through a place full of strangers and unfamiliar sights and sounds and going into the big scary security-scan machine, the narrow enclosed tunnel that connects the terminal to the JetBlue plane and the narrow enclosed aisle of the plane.

“I’m more nervous than he is,” Dunham said.

Flight 7920, which traveled only a mile or so, was part of Jacksonville International Airport’s first Wings for Autism event, an “airport dress rehearsal” for area families with autistic children. Thirty families obtained boarding passes, went through security, ate boxed lunches together, waited, walked down the tunnel, boarded the plane, waited some more and experienced the plane’s movement as it was towed from the terminal to the runway and back.

Nicholas, who is sensitive to sound, light and touch, wore noise-canceling headphones in the terminal and on the plane. He showed a mixture of excitement and anxiety.

He willingly entered the scanner, but was startled by the scan itself and walked backwards when it was over rather than ahead. He enjoyed watching tarmac activity from a window at lunch, but didn’t eat much and focused on his iPad when the waiting got to him. And when he got on the plane, he headed down the aisle at a fast pace to find his seat.

“He did excellent,” marveled his mother, co-founder and executive director of the Jacksonville School for Autism. “I am really shocked.”

WINGS FOR AUTISM

Wings for Autism was created in 2011 by the Charles River Center in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Port Authority to help alleviate some of the stress that people with sensory and developmental disorders experience when traveling by air. Also, the free program helps airport personnel learn how to accommodate children with special needs.

The Jacksonville program on Jan. 29 was among the first, after Boston, Montreal and Seattle, and will be followed this year by events in Anchorage and Tulsa, with negotiations under way with other airports.

So far, six airlines are participating.

Local sponsors were JIA, JetBlue Jacksonville, the Transportation Security Administration, HMS Host food services, The Arc of Jacksonville — which serves people with intellectual and developmental disorders — and The HEAL Foundation (Healing Every Autistic Life), a nonprofit based in Ponte Vedra Beach.

‘THE RIGHT THING TO DO’

Brian Long, JIA customer services manager, said the program stemmed from the many requests he had received for “some sort of orientation” for special-needs children.

“That gave us the impetus,” he said. “This was the right thing to do and it was in our best interest.”

There was a waiting list for the test run, which was the first Wings for Autism event that included the plane actually moving, and JIA plans to offer the program again.

JetBlue, which has been part of Wings for Austism for three years in Boston, will participate in future Jacksonville programs as well, said John Friedel, the airline’s Jacksonville general manager.

The JetBlue flight crew volunteered its services.

“We were founded with the vision of bringing humanity back to air travel and ... and leading by action,” he said.

The youth on the plane had a wide range of autism spectrum disorders. Most of them seemed to handle the experience with aplomb, although there were some squeals and crying during the 4-hour journey.

“The major goal of this being a ‘rehearsal’ to give families an indication of how their child with autism would experience air travel was accomplished,” said Judy Hall Lanier, director of development for the Arc of Jacksonville. “I saw a lot of smiles in the gate area afterwards!”

Leslie Weed, co-founder of HEAL, said she was impressed by how welcoming airport personnel were toward the group.

She did not bring her daughter, who has a severe form of autism, but said she might in the future.

“For the families to get the opportunity to have a test run, next time the anxiety level will not be so high,” she said.

‘DO IT AGAIN’

As the plane moved from the terminal, Darren Beechum, 14, sat in a window seat and urged the plane on.

“Bye bye,” he said. “Here we go!”

When the plane stopped briefly, he got fidgety. When the plane began moving again, he said he knew what planes typically do next.

“Up and up and up and up,” he said.

His mother, Barbara, sitting beside him, said she wondered if that expectation would cause more anxiety, since the plane was not going to go up. But when the plane returned to the terminal, he said, “Do it again.”

Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109

Source: http://bit.ly/1ipmB0N

Pioneering pilot Bessie Coleman will be honored if JIA builds a Jacksonville aviation hall of fame - 2/3/2014

Fri, Jan 31, 2014
By Matt Soergel 
jacksonville.com

Bessie Coleman was an American civil aviator who died over Jacksonville in 1926.

The CEO of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority said it’s likely that Jacksonville International Airport will open an aviation hall of fame by the middle of next year. And when it does, one of the first inductees would be Bessie Coleman, a pioneering pilot who fell to her death over the city in 1926.

That’s a great idea, said the man pushing to have a prominent memorial for Coleman in the city where she died. But it’s still not enough, he said.

“I’m not happy about that at all,” said Opio Sokoni. “We’ll put her in there with everybody else, which dilutes her and what she really means to this city. There’s no pilot, anywhere else, that has such an interesting story.”

Coleman, the daughter of Texas sharecroppers, was the first black woman to get a pilot’s license, and had to go to France to get it. She was a nationwide celebrity known as “Queen Bess,” famed for her boldness, perseverance and beauty.

On Aug. 30, 1926, she was over the Westside, scouting sites for a parachute jump for an air show the next day. Coleman was thrown to her death when the plane in which she was a passenger went into a sudden dive.

The plane exploded on impact, killing pilot William Wills.

Thousands of people attended a memorial service in Jacksonville for Coleman before her body was put on a train to Chicago for a huge funeral there.

Sokoni is a Jacksonville native who recently became president of the Jacksonville chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He stressed that his efforts to honor Coleman, somewhere in the city, are as a private citizen.

He found a supporter in Steve Grossman, CEO of the JAA, who said he favored doing something at the city’s main airport.

And in a Monday email to Sokoni and several other people — including city councilmen Bill Gulliford and Warren Jones, who have expressed interest in honoring Coleman — he said the airport is “leaning” toward opening an aviation hall of fame. It would be in the terminal building, a project included in next year’s budget planning process.

“I believe it will be an excellent venue to honor Jacksonville aviators and by having (it) in the terminal, millions of people will be able to view it,” he wrote.

Sokoni said that’s fine, but just not enough of an honor for such a figure. He said she also deserves a separate airport monument, such as a life-sized bust of her likeness.

Jacksonville does have one reminder that Coleman died in the city. In 2012, a bronze plaque of “Queen Bess” was placed at Paxon School for Advanced Studies, on the site of the 1920s airport where her fatal flight began.

It was unveiled by the Bessie Coleman Aerospace Legacy Inc., which was founded by a group of African-American female pilots and aviation professionals.

Matt Soergel: (904) 359-4082

Source: http://bit.ly/1bnE9t4

Jacksonville aviation chief gets 3% pay hike Board cites oustanding (sic) annual performance review - 1/27/2014

Mon, Jan 27, 2014
By Nate Monroe
jacksonville.com

Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman will take home a 3 percent pay raise this year.
 
The JAA board unanimously approved the raise Monday after board member A.L. Kelly said Grossman had reached annual performance benchmarks set last year. 

His salary will increase from $288,400 to about $297,052. The increase is retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year, which started Oct. 1. Grossman did not receive a bonus.
 
Last year, the board also approved a 3 percent raise for Grossman for outstanding work, though initially board members had decided against it because of the tough economic climate and the city’s financial struggles. 

Among the recent accomplishments listed included the completion in June of KCI Aviation’s hangar at Cecil Airport, refinancing of $75 million in bonds that save the authority money each year, negotiating favorable agreements with the Jacksonville International Airport airlines.
 
Source: http://bit.ly/1e2ODjV

Three Jacksonville facilities awarded multi-million-dollar contracts this week - 1/27/2014

Jan 24, 2014
By Clifford Davis
jacksonville.com

The Department of Defense announced this week that three Jacksonville facilities won multi-million dollar government contracts.
 
The Boeing Company received a $17.8 million contract to upgrade F/A-18 Hornets with 92 percent of the work coming to Boeing’s Cecil Airport facility.
 
The facility began performing upgrades on the planes in 1999 and recently became the national center of component structural repair for the planes.
 
“Obviously we are excited about the additional work Boeing will be doing at Cecil Airport,” Michael Stewart, director of external affairs for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority said. “A company with the international exposure of a Boeing, we’re just proud to have them as a tenant at Cecil.
 
The cost-plus, fixed-fee contract was not competitively bid.
 
The most recent contract is an extension of a previous award for upgrades on F/A-18 A through D Hornets and F/A-18 E and F Super Hornets. The Jacksonville facility employs 252 people.
 
In a second contract, Jacksonville-based Reynolds, Smith and Hill architectural and engineering firm was one of three companies awarded a $10 million contract for work to enhance or replace elementary and secondary schools on U.S. military bases and other overseas territories.
 
Reynolds, Smith and Hill, begun in Jacksonville in 1942, faced-off with 45 other companies to win the firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery contract.
 
Also, on Friday Jacksonville’s Goodrich Corporation was awarded a nearly $7.6 million cost contract for “engineering design services and fabrication of a full-scale prototype submarine rotor component under the Hybrid Demonstration program,” according to the Department of Defense.
 
Gov. Rick Scott also announced Friday that Duval and Clay counties received Florida state defense grants of $275,000 and $250,000 respectively.
 
Duval County received $200,000 for Outlying Field Whitehouse, an airfield used to simulate carrier takeoffs and landings, and a defense reinvestment grant worth $75,000.
 
“In Duval County, the military and defense industry is credited with $11.9 billion in economic impact and 108,901 jobs,” according to the governor’s office.
 
In Clay County, Camp Blanding received $200,000 for a vehicle entrance security upgrade. This grant comes on the heels of a $729,000 state grant the base received in October 2013 for an early warning system.
 
Clay also received a $50,000 defense reinvestment grant.
 
All-told, the contracts and grants add up to roughly $36 million. The governor’s offices touted the impact for the entire state.
 
“Florida’s military and defense industry is responsible for $73.4 billion, or 9.4 percent, of Florida’s gross state product, which translates to jobs for 758,112 Floridians,” according to the press release.
 
Clifford Davis: (904) 359-4103

Source: http://bit.ly/1mO4wtY


Press Releases

Jacksonville Airports Generate Significant Boost To Local Economy, New Study Finds JAA’s Four Airports Responsible for Nearly 30,000 Jobs - 10/8/2014

JACKSONVILLE, October 8, 2014 – Jacksonville Aviation Authority and its four airports generate approximately $3.1 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, according to the 2014 Florida Department of Transportation Aviation Economic Impact Study.

That level of economic activity represents a 7 percent increase since the study was last conducted in 2010.

Economic output at Cecil Airport, which has experienced significant growth of the past several years, jumped 35 percent to $720 million, from $531 million in 2010. Jacksonville International Airport generated $2.2 billion in economic activity, while Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport contributed $132 million and Herlong Recreational Airport produced $22 million.

The FDOT study found that aviation in Florida is responsible for an estimated $144 billion in annual economic activity. 

The study measured all aviation-related economic impacts that take place on an airport such as on-airport tenants (businesses and government agencies), airport construction, and airport management, as well as off-airport impacts, such as those that are associated with visitor spending. 

“This study highlights aviation’s significant economic benefit to Jacksonville and the state of Florida,” said JAA Director of External Affairs Michael Stewart, who also serves as president of the Florida Airports Council.  “Our airports generate thousands of good paying jobs and opportunities to countless businesses.”

Among the airport activities measured in the study are: construction, military operations, air cargo, aviation education, aviation manufacturing and federal agencies such as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

JAX Conducting Triennial Disaster Drill - 9/29/2014

On Wednesday, October 1, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m, the Jacksonville International Airport will conduct its triennial emergency preparedness exercise.

The exercise allows the airport and first response agencies to evaluate emergency response systems, techniques, capabilities, and communication networks as they relate to a major aircraft incident.

While this training is required for U.S. airports by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), each participating agency has the opportunity to evaluate and refine their training skills as well.

This particular exercise will involve over 20 different city and state agencies, including JFRD, JSO and area hospitals. In addition, approximately 100 volunteers will take part in the exercise playing the roles of victims. 


Because this drill involves many "victims," there will be numerous emergency vehicles in and around airport property. Those arriving or departing from the airport should use caution and follow officer instructions and all directional signage. A temporary road closure will be in effect along Pecan Park, between Woodwings and Terrell, from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., on the day of the drill.

An area along runway 14/32 will be utilized for the exercise.

The airport will remain open during the exercise and normal airport operations will NOT be affected.

JAA Board of Directors Elects New Officers - 9/22/2014

September 22, 2014 – Jacksonville Aviation Authority today elected Frank Mackesy as JAA Board of Directors chairman for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Mackesy, Director of Emergency and Security Training at Florida State College of Jacksonville and a former Undersheriff of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, was appointed to the JAA by Gov. Rick Scott. Mackesy replaces Teresa H. Davlantes as chairman. She continues to serve as a board member.

The other newly elected officers include Ernest Isaac, Jr. as vice chairman, Edward M. Booth, Jr. as secretary and Ray Alfred as treasurer, all of whom are mayoral appointees. 

The board is comprised of seven members. Three members are appointed by Jacksonville's mayor while the other four are appointed by the governor of Florida. Each board member can serve a maximum of two consecutive 4-year terms.

Jacksonville International Airport(JAX)Opens Aircraft Observation Area - 8/28/2014

JACKSONVILLE, August 28, 2014 – The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) recently opened an aircraft observation area at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX). Located off Pecan Park Rd., between Terrell Rd. and Dixie Clipper Rd., and at the end of runway 32, visitors can park inside a fenced, gravel-surfaced area and safely enjoy plane watching. The Observation Area is open from sunrise to sunset.

Amenities include ample parking spots, a seating area and a solar powered speaker system that broadcasts conversations between the air traffic controllers and pilots or ground crew.

“We’re pleased to make this safe, family friendly space available to aviation enthusiasts and plane watchers in our community,” said Steve Grossman, Executive Director/CEO of the JAA. “They’re sure to get some great photos and videos of the air traffic using runway 32.”

JAA Board Names Executive Conference Room at Jacksonville International Airport in Honor of Dr. Chester Aikens - 8/27/2014

At the August board meeting on Monday, August 25, the Jacksonville AviationAuthority Board of Directors voted unanimously to name the ExecutiveConference Room at Jacksonville International Airport in honor of former JAAChairman Chester Aikens, who passed away in December.

Dr. Aikens, a prominentcommunity and civic leader, served on the JAA Board as well as the JacksonvillePort Authority when the city’s airport and seaport operated together.  Attending yesterday’s board meeting were Dr.Aikens’ widow, Jean, his sons Chester II and Chae, and Mayor Alvin Brown.

JAA’s Michael Stewart Elected President of Florida Airports Council - 8/15/2014

Michael Stewart, JacksonvilleAviation Authority’s Director, External Affairs, was recently elected presidentof the Florida Airports Council (FAC) at the group’s annual conference inJacksonville.

 

Stewart, who joined JAA in 2004,will serve as FAC president for a one-year term, beginning Oct. 1.  He is the third JAA executive to serve as FACpresident since 1971.

 

“We’re thrilled about Michael’s selection for this prestigious post,”said JAA Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman.  “No doubt, Michael’s leadership andenthusiasm for advancing our industry will greatly benefit Florida AirportsCouncil and its members over the next year.”

 

FAC is an association of publicly-owned and operated airports,airport professionals, and experts in the fields of airport design,development, and improvement, as well as aviation trades that support theairport industry in Florida. FAC consists of 19 commercial airports, 76 generalaviation airports and more than 250 corporate, affiliate, associate,educational members and two student chapters.

 

“I’m excited about this opportunityto serve as president of Florida’s leading aviation association,” Stewart said.“I hope to build upon all the great work FAC has done for Florida’s commercialand general aviation airports.”

 

Stewart said his priorities for FACover the next year include developing a succession plan to replace FAC’slong-time executive director, Bill Johnson; creating a self-sustaining fundingsource for FAC’s leadership development program; and, ensuring that more of oursmaller, general aviation airports are involved in the association.   

For more information aboutFAC, visit www.floridaairports.org.

For more information about JAA,visit www.flyjacksonville.com

Gov. Scott Signs Budget Supporting Investment in Cecil Spaceport - 6/2/2014

JACKSONVILLE, FL, June 2, 2014 — The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) today applauded Gov. Rick Scott for signing the 2014-2015 state budget, which includes $2 million to build infrastructure necessary for the development of Cecil Spaceport.

JAA also expressed appreciation for the continued support of Cecil Spaceport by the Florida Legislature, including members of the First Coast Legislative Delegation, the Florida Department of Transportation and Space Florida. Cecil Spaceport is the only facility in Florida licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to accommodate commercial space horizontal launches.

“This is an important step in the development of Cecil Spaceport,” said JAA Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman. “The state’s support for Cecil and this developing industry is critical. If the commercial space industry doesn’t come to Cecil, it will likely not come to Florida for at least another four or five years.”  

In December 2013, JAA signed its first tenant agreement at Cecil Spaceport with Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (GO). GO is developing an in-flight suborbital space launch platform to conduct microgravity and hypersonic research (GOLauncher 1) and later, a dedicated orbital launch platform for nano and micro satellites (GOLauncher 2). Test flights are expected to begin at Cecil as early as August 2014, with operational launches forecast to begin in 2016. 

Local JaxPAL Youth Graduate From JAXEX High Achievers Program - 5/27/2014

May 27, 2014– Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport (JAXEX) and the Police Athletic League (PAL) of Jacksonville are pleased to announce the graduation of the inaugural class of JAXEX High Achievers, a joint initiative designed to expose local youth to exciting career opportunities in aviation.
 
Leaders from the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA), PAL and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) gathered May 22, 2014, with tenants, parents and special guests to recognize the students who successfully completed the four-month-long program.
 
The JAXEX High Achievers initiative included a series of monthly workshops that offered hands-on demonstrations, professional development training and information about aviation-related degrees, skills and careers ranging from piloting an aircraft, aerial photography and airport operations and administration. Workshops were hosted by JAXEX tenants and partners, including ControlCam, Sterling Flight Training, Malone AirCharter, JAA and the air traffic control tower staff.
 
"I'm thrilled and grateful that we were able to partner with the Police Athletic League and our tenants to offer this unique learning and career-building opportunity to local students," said JAA Executive Director Steve Grossman. "I hope the High Achievers program inspired a love for aviation in these students that may one day impact their education and career decisions."
  
JAXEX High Achievers graduates received a certificate of completion and heard words of advice and congratulations from JAA Executive Director Steve Grossman and Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford. Students also took the opportunity to expound on their experience with the program, and how it has impacted future college and career plans.
 
"It's been a lot of fun to have the PAL students out at JAXEX," said JAXEX Airport Manager Tiffany Gillem. "They asked great questions and were very engaged in the workshop activities with our tenants."
 
For more information about JAXEX, visit flyjaxex.com.
 
For more information about JaxPAL, visit www.jaxpal.com.
 
For more information about JAA, visit www.flyjacksonville.com. 

Vino Volo Brings Wine Country to Jacksonville International Airport - 4/24/2014

April 24, 2014 – Airport Wine Bar Operator Opens First Location in Florida

Vino Volo has arrived in Northeast Florida with the opening of its newest location at the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), the company’s first in the State of Florida.  Located near Gate C1, Vino Volo offers guests the opportunity to taste hand-selected wines from around the world by the glass, in tasting flights, or by the bottle to either take home or have shipped.  The food menu offers small plates to pair with wines, such as smoked salmon rolls and a brie and prosciutto sandwich.  A selection of local craft beers will also be available to bring the flavor of Jacksonville to Vino Volo.

"Our goal is to offer Jacksonville passengers a relaxing, comfortable environment where they can experience wine country and enjoy exceptional wines while waiting for their flight" said Doug Tomlinson, Founder and CEO of Vino Volo. "Discovering unique, often hard-to-find wines is our passion, and we look forward to introducing our guests to great global and local wine regions."

Vino Volo (derived from “wine flight” in Italian) is a trusted wine authority that combines a cozy wine lounge, restaurant, tasting bar and boutique wine shop under one roof.  Vino Volo owns and operates 35 locations at 23 airports across North America and two city stores in Bethesda, MD, and Tysons Corner, VA. Founded in 2005, Vino Volo revolutionizes how people experience wine by making the tasting experience approachable and educational. Vino Volo has won 25 Airport Revenue News awards, including the "Food Operator with the Highest Regard for Customer Service" seven years in a row.

“The Vino Volo experience is one passengers will enjoy when traveling through Jacksonville, and is a welcome complement to our current in-terminal dining options,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority Executive Director/CEO Steve Grossman said.  “It’s also exciting that JAX is home to the first Vino Volo location in the State of Florida.” The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) is proud to welcome Vino Volo’s innovative wine bar concept. 

Photos from Vino Volo’s ribbon cutting, soft open and site construction are available for download on the JAX Airport flickr account here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jaxairport/sets/72157642166823854/

About Vino Volo

Vino Volo establishments combine an upscale wine lounge, restaurant and boutique wine shop under one roof, and are primarily located in airports across North America. Vino Volo (derived from “wine flight” in Italian) is a trusted wine authority that makes wine approachable, offering hand-selected wines from around the world by the glass, in tasting flights and by the bottle for customers to take home or have shipped.  Follow VinoVolo on Facebook (Facebook.com/VinoVolo) and Twitter @vinovolo.  For more information, visit vinovolo.com.


Mayor Brown Appoints Ray Alfred to JAA Board - 3/7/2014

JACKSONVILLE, FL, March 7, 2014 — Ray Alfred, President/CEO of Emergency Responders’ Industries, Inc., has been appointed to the Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board of Directors by Mayor Alvin Brown. The appointment was confirmed by the full City Council on February 25.

Alfred will complete the unexpired term of Dr. Chester Aikens, who tragically passed away in December, through September 30, 2015. He will then serve his first full four-year term ending September 30, 2019.

“Chester was an extraordinary community leader. He was also my dentist and my friend ever since I moved to Jacksonville in 1996,” Alfred said.  “It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to serve out the rest of his term on the JAA Board.”

Alfred has served as Past Director/Fire Chief for the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department and as Fire Chief for Washington, DC.

Alfred has served on multiple boards and committees, including International Association of Fire Chiefs Terrorism/Homeland Security Committee and an alumni of Leadership Jacksonville. 

Jacksonville International Airport Wins Airport Service Quality Award JAX places in top five in ACI-NA ‘Best Airport by Region’ - 3/5/2014

The Jacksonville AviationAuthority announced that Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) rankedamong the top five airports in the BestAirport by Region: North America category as part of the Airports CouncilInternational’s (ACI’s) 2013 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards.        

“I am extremely proud thatJacksonville International Airport has been recognized as a leader in customerservice excellence,” said JAA Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman. “Wehave a very hard working team consisting of JAA employees, airline employees, tenantemployees and volunteer airport ambassadors who go beyond, daily, to provide apositive airport experience for all of our customers”

The annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ)Awards recognize the best airports in the world according to ACI's ASQpassenger satisfaction survey. They represent the highest possible accolade forairport operators and are an opportunity to celebrate the commitment ofairports worldwide to continuously improve the passenger experience. This year,more than 200 airports across 50 countries participated in the survey for thehonor of being recognized as the best in their region of the world.

Jacksonville ranked number five in theNorth American region, with Indianapolis, Ottawa, Tampa and Sacramento,respectively, rounding out the top four. JAX saw its customer satisfactionnumbers in over 20 categories increase over last year.

For more information about JAA,please visit www.flyjacksonville.com

 
 
 
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