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At Colorado Airport, Common Ground Paves the Way for Common Good

As one of the nation's top two or three community airports, there are few pilots who are unfamiliar with Denver's Centennial Airport (APA). Largely due to the hard work of APA management and community outreach efforts by many on the airport, most of the general public who live and work in the area southeast of Denver where Centennial is located are also familiar with the airport and understand the economic and social benefits it brings to their region.

Providing Value to the Region

"Our community understands the economic value of the airport," said Centennial Executive Director Robert Olislagers, who has managed the Arapahoe County facility in the heart of Denver's Tech Center since 2000, and who by all accounts has effectively promoted the importance of APA with local elected officials, homeowners associations, businesses and the general public.

As Olislagers noted, it wasn't always this way. When he came on board 10 years ago, the airport/community relationship was much rockier, and it was only when the airport and local communities came together in their opposition to having commercial flights at Centennial did common ground pave the way to enhanced understanding and appreciation of the airport, which in 2008 provided nearly $1 billion in economic output to the region, more than 10,000 jobs and nearly $360 million in annual payroll.

Addressing Community Concerns

Aircraft noise has always been an issue at Centennial, but the airport's handling of noise concerns has also been a model of responsiveness and openness that has actually resulted in greatly diminished numbers of noise complaints over the past several years. As suggested by a long-running FAR Part 150 noise study, APA established a Community Noise Roundtable in May 2009, composed of representatives from eight nearby communities and two counties, and non-voting advisory members from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airport community and regional aviation associations.

John Furstenberg, chief pilot and director of aviation for Liberty Media Corporation's APA-based flight department, has represented the Colorado Business Aviation Association in an advisory capacity at the monthly roundtable meetings and has helped fly some test routes for the new integrated RNAV redesign of Denver-area airspace that is incorporating quieter (read: higher altitude) and more fuel-efficient routes into APA and other area airports. "There is a lot of cooperation [on the roundtable] and the sense that we can make this work," said Furstenberg, whose company operates two Falcon 900EXs out of APA. "It was slow going at first, but now some of the [roundtable members] are our biggest supporters."

Through the FBOs – Signature, TAC Air and Xjet – and educational outreach, APA has been proactive about informing based and transient operators about NBAA's voluntary noise abatement procedures.

A new noise monitoring system is also being installed, which will help the airport track specific aircraft operations and the noise associated with them. "This will allow us to identify egregious noise complaints and help us characterize what's going on," said Olislagers. Noise monitors at 12 permanent sites and two portable monitors will give detailed information that will enable the airport – which has a full-time noise and environmental specialist – to contact aircraft operators with information on specific flights and work with them to reduce their noise footprint.

Steve Hadley, NBAA's regional representative for the southwest region, has been a non-voting member supporting the efforts of the Centennial noise roundtable over the past year. "We commend the airport and the community for meeting on common ground to promote the efficient and safe use of Centennial," said Hadley. "This airport partnership serves as a great model for other community airports."

For More Information

Direct questions about the roundtable to NBAA's Steve Hadley at For additional information, visit: