OAC Brings Home Two Awards from National Aviation Conference

By Harve Allen 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Officials with the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission came away from a recent aviation conference with a few pieces of hardware they weren’t expecting.

During the National Association of State Aviation Officials’ Annual Conference that was recently held in Wichita, Kan., Airport Development Manager Dale Williams was named the 2010 recipient of the association’s State Aviation Distinguished Service Award. The award honors state aviation personnel who have excelled in their service and dedication to aviation progress and development in their state.

In addition, the Aeronautics Commission also walked away with the Most Innovative State Program Award for its Web-based Airport Infrastructure Management System. The award recognizes truly unique and service-oriented state aviation programs, projects and activities.

Williams, who has been with the Aeronautics Commission since 1999, heads the Commission’s airports division that is responsible for helping maintain airport infrastructure across the state through the Aeronautics Commission’s Capital Improvement Program. The CIP identifies infrastructure needs at Oklahoma’s publicly owned airports, such as runway and taxiway improvements, and then channels federal and state funds for airport development.

"It is truly an honor that NASAO selected me as this year's recipient of their State Aviation Distinguished Service Award. Even if I had not received the award, it would have been just as exciting to know that I was even nominated," Williams said. "I am blessed to work alongside a bunch of dedicated, hard-working and conscientious people in our office who love aviation and who want the best for our state. I wholeheartedly share this award with them."

Aeronautics Commission Director Victor Bird lauded Williams for his long-time service to the state and for his many accomplishments.

“Dale is very deserving of this award from NASAO. He has shown tremendous leadership over the years in an area that relies heavily on the collaboration and cooperation of community leaders, airport staff, engineering consultants, and state policymakers in order to help get airport projects started and completed in a timely manner,” Bird said.

During the eight years Williams has been with the Aeronautics Commission, Oklahoma has seen a substantial increase in the amount of federal funds it receives through the Federal Aviation Administration for airport infrastructure improvements, Bird said. He noted that Oklahoma is currently receiving nearly $10 million annually from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program and approximately $15 million annually from the FAA’s Non-Primary Entitlement Program.

Vivek Khanna, airport engineer for the Aeronautics Commission, led the statewide implementation of the Airport Infrastructure Management System, which allows the agency to monitor more closely pavement deterioration and effectiveness on runways, taxiways and aprons at general aviation airports across the state. This Web-based pavement management system expands upon traditional systems by incorporating structural and geotechnical data and analysis tools, and using custom state-of-the-art software developed by the University of Oklahoma. Since its successful implementation, it has served as a model for state aviation agencies across the nation.

“I am extremely proud of Vivek and for the contributions he has made not only within our agency but also throughout the state of Oklahoma. Through his hard work and initiative, he has helped develop our current pavement management system which is the envy of my peers in other states,” Bird said. “In fact, our entire airports division does great work for the citizens of Oklahoma, day-in and day-out. Each one of them absolutely deserves being recognized for their service and accomplishments.”

In 2005 the FAA presented the airports division staff with an award recognizing the agency for its “outstanding contribution to the enhancement of aviation in Oklahoma” for improvements in the state’s airport planning process, which is now a model for other states. That same year, FAA also nominated the Aeronautics Commission for the “Airport Ally Award.”

Most recently, the airport development staff played a key role in helping get the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act passed by the state Legislature last spring. The measure, which became effective Oct. 1, limits those construction projects deemed incompatible with airport operations or those seen as potential hazards to aircraft landings and takeoffs.