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5 Things You May Have Missed at the 2021 Symposium

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The 2021 Airport Planning, Design & Construction Symposium took place virtually on March 1, 2, and 4. Presented by the Airport Consultants Council (ACC) and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the Symposium was geared toward airport professionals of all disciplines and experience levels, including young airport professionals. Widely known as the preeminent technical event of the year, attendees had the opportunity to learn about the latest information and developments affecting the industry.

If you missed this event, take a look at 5 of the biggest takeaways from our team. This year, David Hunley (Associate Principal/VP), Charles Cleary (Senior Cost Specialist), Michael Feeney (Analyst II) and Sri Kumar (Senior Project Specialist) attended the virtual event on Connico’s behalf.

1. New Applications of Tech are Solving Long Standing Challenges

Session: The New Normal - Lessons Learned from Construction Operations During Covid-19

“The discussion on the technology used to track construction employees entering and exiting the construction site for the recently opened Salt Lake City Terminal stood out. Holder Construction noted that they had technology that used RFID badges that gave a running count of who was on the site at all times. This allowed them to track people without human interaction during a time when contact had to be minimized due to COVID. They also used Blue Cat Technology, which allowed them to keep their construction documents up to date seamlessly. These are great solutions to problems encountered during construction season last year that we can learn from and apply to create operational efficiency in the future.”

David Hunley, PE

2. Passenger Perception Will Shape Future of Travel

Session: The New Normal – Lessons Learned from Construction Operations during COVID-19

“Public perception of airports and travel in the COVID era could drive everything going forward. Will people find Lyft to be unsafe and want to go back to renting cars? Airlines right now are using larger planes to fly some routes – people see this and noise complaints have increased, so is this fleet mix sustainable? Abnormal and unexpected changes like this are ripe territory for Connico – we consider the things no one else does. Moral: no one knows what’s going to happen next, and no one is willing to gamble on a prediction.”

Sri Kumar, PE

Design Symposium photo

3. Update Engineering Utilities For More Cost-Effective Planning

Session: Rigid or Flexible: How do you like your pavement updates?

“This session provided an overview of a variety of topics, including current FAA research into pavement sections and their performance on airfields, balancing maintenance work using PCI and pavement rehabilitation curve to lengthen your airfield pavement’s design life, and a detailed explanation of a runway reconstruction project with Duluth Airport Authority. The PCI use and maintenance planning was very interesting due to the funding and operation constraints that limited immediate action. Budgeting the individual maintenance work to ensure continual growth of the index is a complex process with the continually declining pavement health, so it was impressive to see what the airport had done and how we, here at Connico, can use those cost considerations in the future.”

Michael G. Feeney, EIT

4. Start Building Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Now

Session: Latest Trends in Landside Mobility

“It seems there has been a flurry of auto-makers announcing recently that they intend to have their entire line be electric vehicles in the very near future. To accommodate that change, airports will have to install many more EV charging stations in the coming years. Unfortunately, many airports lack the power capacity to accomplish this. But Connico can help!”

Charles J. Cleary, CPE

5. New Factors Will Continue to Reshape the Industry

Session: Scenario Based Planning

“We touched on this list of specific driving forces that will help determine the future of airports:

  1. - Vaccine supply chain/acceptance of the vaccine
  2. - Opening of international borders
  3. - Governmental regulation
  4. - Passenger perception of safety
  5. - Business travel to return … or not


In our estimates and schedules, we look at SPECIFIC factors that affect project outcomes: labor rates, material cost per unit, haul distances…. down to the type of truck that might be used. Connico’s team is finding ways to apply this same mentality to answering questions our clients have for us about their future.”

Sri Kumar, PE

This year’s virtual Symposium provided us with fantastic insights into the future of aviation and post-pandemic planning. Our biggest takeaway? No matter how much uncertainty our industry has faced, aviation is resilient and will NOT be going anywhere. During the pandemic, teams collaborated in innovative ways, and airports made improvements to communication, passenger experience and technology development and use. The lessons we learned at the Symposium, coupled with the lessons we learn every day while helping our clients face challenges, give us unique firepower and insights to bring projects to life!

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