Aviation Operations Management

Not Just Part 139: Finding Value in All Airport Inspections

Since 2004, airport managers have worked each year to prove their airports’ compliance with the FAA’s Part 139 regulation. The regulation places a heavy emphasis on inspections for airports, ensuring runways and other on-site facilities can safely receive and send aircraft performing passenger-carrying operations.

While Part 139 inspections (for the airports that should or opt to pursue the FAA certification) are important, airport managers should also give their attention to other airport operations. Inspections, whether they’re done as Part 139 requires or not, play critical and functional roles across all sides of an airport.

Off the Airfield

The FAA’s Part 139 regulation has made daily self-inspections a staple of all certified airports. It’s instilled a habit across the industry. Other weekly, monthly, and yearly inspections are also included in Part 139 operations, showcasing the importance of awareness and safety in aviation.

Part 139 inspections and operations are done to ensure the safety of craft and their passengers. This reasoning makes the value of performing the work Part 139 inspection requires apparent.

Other inspections, the ones that cater more to the business and administrative sides of an airport, need to demonstrate their value.

We can take a look at three types of inspections that don’t happen on the airfield and see what kind of return conducting them will yield for an airport. Those three types of inspections are:

  • Terminal inspections
  • Tenant/hangar inspections
  • Airport dining and retail inspections

Terminal Inspections

Terminals are the most public-facing areas of airports. All passengers spend time in terminals  (sometimes far longer than they would like to). This is why an airport should have a regular inspection of their terminals.

First, inspections will bubble up quality and safety issues. Assets in poor condition could be hazardous for the passengers within the terminal.

Take a baggage claim carousel. It’s something a majority of passengers will interact with. Could a passenger accidentally hurt themselves while grabbing their luggage?

It seems like an odd and nearly impossible event, but a broken rivet could cause the sharp edge of a metal sheet to not be flush with the remainder of the carousel’s body. A passenger in a rush could clip the elevated sheet’s edge with their hand and be injured as a result.

Inspections find these issues and generate an urgent need for a solution. Finding these issues and correcting them limits the liability of an airport and produces a more pleasant environment for passengers.

On a lighter note, regular terminal inspections will also pinpoint things to improve. Staying ahead of issues and maintaining a pleasant environment for passengers may mean more of them opt to fly through your terminal again.

More foot traffic is good. Advertisers may choose to buy ad space in your terminal, or the shops might see a spike in sales. Terminal inspections — more succinctly — not only limit loss, but have the potential to increase the revenue of an airport.

Tenant and Hangar Inspections

Now, let’s look at something more related to the airfield: tenant and hanger inspections.

Just like terminal inspections, tenant and hangar inspections keep your airport’s management on top of the condition of the spaces your airport lends to aircraft owners.

Tenant and hangar inspections let airports stay ahead of issues or address them as they arise, rather than letting those issues sit and stew until irreparable damage is caused.

Knowing how your airport’s facilities are faring is critical information and allows your team to make decisions that will ultimately mitigate losses.

What’s more, these inspections will tell your team if an tenant is violating the terms of their leasing contract. Personnel can gather important pieces of information when performing these inspections, such as:

  • Are stored aircraft registered and insured properly?
  • Are all the contents of the hangar permitted per the contract?
  • Has the tenant made modifications to the facilities that could cause losses to fix?

Tenant and hangar inspections can be wrapped into a larger lease management solution to ensure they’re carried out on a regular basis. Lease management is a vital operation for certain airports, and anything that can be done to optimize it should be completed.

Airport Dining and Retail Inspections

This operation combines elements from the two we’ve already discussed.

These inspections are much more on the business side of airport administration, but their separation from the airfield and operational inspections shouldn’t diminish their value for airport management.

Across all facets of an airport, safety is the top concern. Airports house extremely delicate operational environments, and any and all safety precautions and measures should always be taken.

Airport dining and retail inspections, much like tenant and hangar inspections do, keep tabs on the businesses that lease space throughout your airport. These inspections, effectively, ask:

  • Are tenants maintaining a safe environment for both operations and passengers?
  • Are tenants complying with local, state, and/or federal food safety regulations to reduce the likelihood of passengers becoming sick?

In recent years, reports have surfaced of the conditions of restaurants located in the terminals and concourses of several airports. The reports cite a handful of restaurants in airports where health and food safety inspections cite multiple critical and non-critical issues.

Regular inspection and monitoring of the retail space in your airport will hopefully push your tenants to meet the standards of your inspection; by extension, this might mean they comply with the standards set but regulatory inspectors, and protect the brand and reputation of your airport and its facilities.

Implementing a retail and dining inspection process to your airport’s operations is an act of preventive maintenance. Ensuring tenants keep the space they rent in good shape will mean your airport’s facilities, overall, will be in better condition.

Always Inspecting

Inspections are a core cog in the machine that keeps an airport going. This not only applies to the airfield, but within the terminals, concourses, hangars, and other facilities on site as well.

Implementing regular inspections for administrative and business operations of your airport will pay off in the long term. Make them part of your everyday (or week or month), and see the benefits for your airport firsthand.

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