SRQ Tour 11/05/2019

SRQ Behind the Scenes

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, LWRWC members, husbands and friends enjoyed a fascinating tour of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), conveniently located a few miles from Lakewood Ranch.

The knowledgeable volunteer guides, who serve as SRQ ambassadors, took the members on an in-depth tour of the entire terminal complex, including secured areas that the public rarely sees where cameras were prohibited. The airport tour began with a presentation by Fredrick J. Piccolo, President, Chief Executive Officer, SRQ, who personally addressed the group. He is very proud of the entrepreneurial nature of the airport and shared the following top reasons why SRQ makes the local economy soar and is such a major contributor to the community.

⦁ SRQ operates on a debt free, pay as you go business model and has an impressive 1,3 billion economic impact on the Sarasota Bradenton community. Economic Impacts on Local Community includes:
⦁ Direct Impact: $101,796,600
⦁ Indirect Impact: $ 433,074,300
⦁ Multiplier Impact: $432,065,500
⦁ Airport Non-Aviation Revenue -$1,313,000 annually
⦁ Total Employment: 11,487 jobs
⦁ Total Economic Activity: $966,936,400
⦁ Total Payroll: $314,435,900
⦁ SRQ had Facility Investments of $110 million last decade with no borrowing – runway extension, taxiways, industrial park.
⦁ New Terminal Built in 1989 with $150 Million in Improvements – Paid off $115 Million since 1995 and
Debt Free in 2014!
⦁ Facility Investments Security Improvements included Expanded Screening from 3 to 6 lanes; New Communications/EOC center; New Access Control System to all gates and doors with 70+ cameras; and New In-Line Baggage Screening System.
⦁ Facility Investment Terminal Improvements included New Maintenance Facility, New Concessions, New Restrooms, Terminal Roof, and beautiful Aquarium. Facility Investments also included US Customs Facility Improvements.

After the presentation, the tour guides took the group through public areas and afforded them the chance to meet several charming SRQ Ambassadors strategically located stations on the first and second floors of the terminal. They were told that the oldest volunteer is 94 and still going strong.

They also admired displays of amazing artwork by students K -12 that were submitted by their teachers and resulted in prize money to local schools and plane tickets for the teachers of the winning students. They saw the planes, runways, fire trucks and experienced an up close and personal look at the airport’s New In-Line Baggage Screening System. We even got an inside look at how unattended luggage with suspicious content can be destroyed.

One of the most impressive parts of our tour was viewing Airport Communications Center (AIRCOM), which is considered to be the heart of the Operations Department. AIRCOM is a 24 hour-a-day airport control center that performs emergency and non-emergency communication functions.

The staff’s is responsible for monitoring essential safety and security systems including the security access control system, fire alarm systems, the Air Traffic Control Tower ring-down emergency line, and the closed-circuit television surveillance cameras. AIRCOM also manages all airport emergency calls, answers telephone calls from the public, and makes paging announcements throughout the terminal. AIRCOM provides dispatching service via the 800-radio system base unit to all airport groups including Police, Fire, and Operations. In the event of a major incident, AIRCOM coordinates all mutual aid calls to outside responding agencies.

The tour concluded with a view of the new Control Tower, dedicated on Sept. 11, that provides controllers with much greater visibility of the airfield. The 128-foot-tall tower cost $24.8 million and the facility includes a 9,000-square-foot base building that houses equipment, administrative offices, and training rooms, and it has an updated voice communications system, radio transmitter, and flight data processor, which controllers use to communicate with other FAA facilities and the airport. Air traffic controllers working in the 525-square-foot tower cab handle flights within a 10-mile radius of the airport up to 4,000 feet in altitude.

The off-the-ranch adventure at SRQ was followed by a  lunch at the Muse, located at the Ringling Museum. The event was coordinated by LWRWC Program Co-Chairs Cathy Reinitz and Claudia Dombrow as part of a series of trips “Off the Ranch.”.