Kudos for airport staff


To the Editor:

Every year the FAA does a comprehensive safety inspection of all commercial airports (Part 139) under its jurisdiction, of which the Martha’s Vineyard Airport is one. This year’s inspection occurred on May 15, and there were no significant issues found. On behalf of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission (MVAC), I would like to recognize the hard work by the airport employees to achieve such excellent results.

An FAA inspector spends three days onsite examining the airport’s operations in detail. This includes going over all of the logbooks from the past year, ensuring that all required maintenance procedures were completed and entered in the books. The inspector tours the entire airfield, looking at signage, lighting, markings, grass height, perimeter fencing, and evidence of wildlife. The airport’s vehicles are examined, including the fuel trucks, firefighting equipment, and snowplows. The fuel farm is inspected to make sure all the tanks are in top condition.

Without advance notice, the inspector initiates a simulated crash, with instructions for the emergency responders to go to some location on the field and spray water from the fire trucks. The response time is then measured. This is a particularly difficult situation on the Vineyard, because there is not a dedicated emergency team, as larger airports typically have. The operations staff, who are the emergency crew, may be anywhere on the field performing their normal duties, including parking and fueling aircraft, mowing the grass, or making repairs. Once the alarm is sounded, they need to get to the fire station, don their gear, get on the fire engines, and go to the location of the emergency.

There were only two issues found, and these were related to taxiway markings, which the airport was already in the process of painting. It is a yearlong effort to achieve such results and a team effort. Credit goes to Geoff Freeman, the airport director, for making safety the top priority. The MVAC is particularly proud of Jesse Olson, Kevin Gundersen, Eric Hatt, Billy Johnson, and Mike Berninger, who are the team leaders of the operations staff.

The MVAC is honored to have such a wonderful group of dedicated employees. The entire Vineyard community should be pleased with the excellent work of the airport staff.

Bob Rosenbaum, chair

Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission