Tulsa airport officials FAA Rules Waste Money

Some FAA rules ‘stupid,’ waste taxpayer dollars

BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Friday, March 09, 2012
3/9/2012 5:13:42 AM

Agenda item 3.D.4 at the March meeting of the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust appeared innocuous enough.

It was a $15,539 change order on the $7.59 million second phase of the main runway reconstruction project at Tulsa International Airport.

In response to questions from TAIT Chairman Charles Sublett, Jeff Hough, deputy airports director of engineering and facilities, said the change order was to compensate contractor Sherwood Construction Co. for furnishing temporary runway end identifier lights.

In addition, Hough said, the change order included the cost of two in-pavement runway edge lights omitted from the project.

Sublett asked about the temporary lights.

Hough said that when the bid package for the first phase of the runway package was prepared, the designer included the cost of temporary runway-end identifier lights. The designer assumed TAIT would keep the lights and reuse them on the second phase of the runway reconstruction project, Hough said, and the designer omitted their cost from the second phase bid package.

The lights are table-lamp-sized strobe lights placed at the corners of the runway that signal the end of the runway at night.

Sublett asked why TAIT was purchasing a second set of runway end identifier lights.

Hough said the Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t permit TAIT to keep the first pair of REILs. Sherwood kept them, he said.

Sublett, a lawyer and frequent critic of government spending, noted that TAIT now will pay for a second pair of lights – and give them up, too, at the end of the project.

“Does that make any sense?” Sublett said.

“No,” Hough said.

“I rest my case,” Sublett said. “The government is crazy.”

Airports Director Jeff Mulder said the FAA regulations prohibiting the retention of temporary lights were adopted because of abuses at other airports. The FAA does not want airports acquiring assets in capital projects – paid predominantly with FAA grants – for use in normal day-to-day operations, he said.

After the TAIT meeting, Hough said he is sympathetic with Sublett’s view.

“It’s frustrating for me, too,” Hough said. “I know I could do something more cost-effective, but the FAA won’t allow us to.”

Sublett said the FAA’s rules are “stupid.”

“They make no sense in their requirements to waste money – hard-earned taxpayer money that needs to be handled prudently, carefully and not squandered,” Sublett said. “I see it at every (TAIT) meeting – we have to do environmental studies on bugs or birds or whatever on an airport we have had for 80 years. We should be able to get a waiver.”

Sublett said one of the most outrageous expenses the FAA required of TAIT in recent years was $600,000 to convert Tulsa International’s maps and layout to a digital version “so the FAA could access it more easily,” Sublett said.

“I can send it Fed-Ex for overnight delivery for twenty-some bucks,” Sublett said.

Original Print Headline: Officials: FAA rules waste money

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