By Robin Lee Michel
For The Airport News

Airport and wildlife authorities have no idea what compelled a black bear to climb a fence on the perimeter of the Bradley airfield on July 10. Whatever the reason, the 200-pound male scaled an 8-foot chain-link fence and continued over three rows of razor wire, ending up near Runway 6/24, the airport’s longest airstrip.
It did not end well for the animal. Because of the potential danger it posed to aircraft and people, the bear was euthanized by an officer from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
“In most cases we tranquilize it and remove it to the nearest habitat,” said Jason Hawley, wildlife biologist and U.S. Department of Agriculture full-time wildlife services agent. “It’s rare to euthanize, maybe two or three [bears] each year. But this one was too much of a public safety concern. You have to use your personal judgment.”
Officials did not jump to euthanize the bear. At first they shot off noise-making devices — called “bangers and whistlers” — but the bear wasn’t deterred. Hawley said wildlife personnel prefer to tranquilize large mammals and transport them to remote natural preserves.
“The important thing is to be cognizant of the need to protect wildlife as well as the general public. Naturally the public is the highest priority,” said Rollin S. Tebbetts, airport operations manager at Bradley.
Over the years, there have been numerous reports of animals near Bradley, some inside the fence, others outside, including a moose. “I responded to a bobcat on the grounds three years ago,” Hawley said. There have also been coyotes trying to dig under the fence, a bear in a parking garage, skunks, opossums and foxes, and of course, hundreds of species of birds.
Nationwide, mammals have accounted for only 2.2 percent of wildlife strike incidents compared to 97 percent with birds from 1990 to 2013, according to the 115-page report released by the Federal Aviation Administration in July. During that period, 142,603 wildlife strikes were reported by airports across the country. A total of 21,654 of these caused damages that were estimated at $587.7 million in direct aircraft repair costs. “Other monetary losses include such expenses as lost revenue, the cost of putting passengers in hotels, rescheduling aircraft and flight cancellations,” according to the report.
Wildlife strikes pose a huge danger to the air travel industry. Since 1988, globally wildlife strikes have killed more than 255 people and destroyed more than 243 aircraft, according to data from the National Wildlife Strike Database.
In the U.S., a widely known incident of a near-disaster caused by wildlife-aircraft impact was the 2009 downing of US Airways Flight 1549, which was forced to land in the Hudson River just three minutes after it took off from LaGuardia. The cause was found to be Canada geese that were pulled into both engines. Amazingly, few people were injured and no one died.
The FAA takes the problem seriously. Each airport is required to adhere to its specific FAA Wildlife Hazard Management Plan.
Bradley’s plan mandates the type of grass to be planted and other measures that must be followed to deter wildlife, primarily birds. Personnel must mow grass to a specific height so that it does not create a habitat for small animals that might attract predatory birds. Such primary management procedures are effective, as are the methods used to disperse flocks of birds.
In addition, all operations personnel must complete Advanced Aircraft Wildlife Management Training. “All our folks are required to go through a 40-hour course,” Tebbetts said. “We’re always working on it.”
Bradley International Airport has been fortunate in that even though there have been bird strikes, they have not resulted in significant damage to aircraft or property, injuries or fatalities, said Ben Parish, director of operations.
When a situation occurs, “it is identified, notified and contained,” he said.
Constant surveillance keeps authorities aware of potential incidents. If an animal does breach the airport grounds and may pose a threat to aircraft, the plan of action is put in place. It starts with proper reporting, then proceeds to the first step: to scare them away. “We try to harass the wildlife to leave before taking any lethal means,” Tebbetts said.
Parish said the birds can be smart. At other airports, the birds actually will sit on noise-making cannons, then lift off a minute before they are set to sound, and then resettle on the barrel. At Bradley, operations personnel try to mix up strategies to maintain an element of surprise. “Our way of doing it is more effective,” Parish said.
The expertise of the operations staff plays a key role, according to Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, which oversees the state’s airports. “Our operations group is very experienced, the most qualified that I’ve seen,” he said.
Bradley operations staff also work closely and regularly with USDA personnel. On July 11, the group was actually out performing inspections when the bear breached the perimeter. As a precaution, a section of taxiway was closed briefly until the incident was resolved. By taking quick action, there was no danger or any delay to air travel.
The bear that was euthanized – estimated to be 2 to 3 years old – is thought to be the same animal seen earlier this summer roaming the outer areas of Bradley’s extensive acreage. As human development expands into Connecticut’s natural habitat, animals are on the move and are more prevalent in communities where they do not belong. “There are more and more bears. The population increases and pushes them into an area where we don’t think they need to be,” Hawley said.
Airport officials know that wildlife encounters will continue to occur. “Our current plan has been very effective,” Dillon said. However, new precautions are always being taken to prevent incidents that could jeopardize the safety of air travelers and Bradley personnel.

By The Airport News

The Connecticut Airport Authority is preparing its 2015 legislative agenda to present to the next session of the General Assembly, and the CAA’s executive director gave the CAA board an overview at its September meeting.
The director, Kevin Dillon, said the CAA’s priorities are in seven general areas:

  • Enforcement authority for CAA inspectors. The airport now relies on the state police to enforce regulations.
  • Eliminate the cap on non-budgeted expenditures, which is now $5,000.
  • Personnel issues to increase efficiency, including elimination of some state requirements on filling positions.
  • Oppose an increase in rental car surcharges, which can have a detrimental effect on airport operations.
  • Take over the responsibility for regulating taxi and livery service at the airport, treating taxi service as a concession.
  • Revisions in the state statutes to update references to the Department of Transportation regarding state airports to the Connecticut Airport Authority.
  • An exemption from state retirement plan requirements.
  • The CAA board referred the legislative agenda to its human resources and governance committee for detailed review. Dillon said the proposals have to be submitted to the General Assembly by December.

    The Connecticut Airport Authority has announced the debut of new daily, nonstop United Airlines service between Bradley International Airport (BDL) and Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) beginning Monday, Oct. 6.
    This addition to Bradley’s route structure continues the CAA’s commitment to provide a robust menu of service offerings, airport officials said.
    “We’re pleased to add new United Express service between Houston and Hartford,” said Jim Compton, United’s vice chairman and chief revenue officer. “The new flights complement our existing service to Bradley from our Chicago, New York and Washington hubs, providing Greater Hartford-area travelers with more nonstop flight options, as well as convenient connections via the Houston hub to more than 75 other destinations in Texas, the U.S. West Coast and Latin America.”
    “The CAA strives to provide its travelers with access to the nation’s most desirable destinations,” said Mary Ellen Jones, the CAA board chairwoman.
    The flights will be operated by Mesa Airlines using Embraer 175 aircraft with 76 seats — 12 in United First and 64 in United Economy, including 16 Economy Plus extra-legroom seats. Service will begin with the first flight from Houston to Bradley at 3:40 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 5. Bradley’s inaugural departure to Houston is scheduled for 7:20 a.m. Monday, Oct. 6.

    By The Airport News

    David Bassett, the Transportation Security Administration’s top officer at Bradley International Airport for five years, was recently selected to serve as the TSA’s regional director for the Office of Global Strategies, based in Frankfurt, Germany.
    Bassett has been the TSA’s federal security director at Bradley since 2009, coming to Connecticut from TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, where he was director for the South East area. Bassett has been with the TSA since 2002 and has also held posts in Rochester and Buffalo, New York, and Denver, Colorado.
    In his new post as regional director, he will oversee Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

    By The Airport News

    Michael T. Long, the longest serving member of the board of the Connecticut Airport Authority and its predecessors, has been re-elected vice chairman of the CAA board.
    The board’s chairwoman, Mary Ellen Jones, said the September meeting is considered the CAA board’s annual meeting, and it was time to elect officers. Jones praised Long’s service and said he had agreed to remain vice chairman. The vote was unanimous.
    Long, a Simsbury resident, had been chairman of the Bradley International Airport Commission and subsequent boards since the 1980s. He was appointed to the CAA board in 2011. Before his retirement in 2007, Long was a director, president and general counsel of Ensign-Bickford Industries.

    By The Airport News

    July’s passenger numbers were up 14 percent over last year at Bradley International Airport — results that the airport’s chief executive, Kevin Dillon, calls a “great success.”
    It was the 11th month in a row for increases at Bradley, Dillon told the Connecticut Airport Authority board at its September meeting. For the year to date (January through July), Bradley’s passenger numbers were up 10.9 percent.
    Dillon said the continuing improvement at Bradley is a result of increases in the number of available airplane seats and to the recovering economy.
    But Dillon added a warning in his Sept. 8 report to the CAA board: “Sooner or later, things are going to start to level off,” he said.
    Other airports in the region didn’t do as well in July, Dillon reported. Passenger counts were down 3 percent at T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island; down 19.2 percent at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire; and up just 5.8 percent at Logan International Airport in Boston.
    Bradley also excelled in the year-to-date numbers, compared with the other airports. (Table at right.)
    Reporting on continuing efforts to add airline service, Dillon noted that Bradley was competing with T.F. Green for European flights by Condor Airlines, and Condor chose T.F. Green. Condor will offer seasonal service to Frankfurt, Germany, beginning in July. Dillon noted that Condor is part of the Thomas Cook Group, which has a connection to Newport, R.I.
    Dillon also said he would be meeting with Azul Brazilian Airlines, whose CEO was visiting Hartford, and a number of other domestic and international carriers at the World Routes Conference in Chicago.

    Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 6-7

  • Suffield on the Green and Craft Fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Town Green, intersection of Routes 75 and 168, Suffield. Suffield’s largest event is run by the Friends of Suffield. Find out about services and organizations in town: scouting, churches, school groups, local businesses, clubs, town emergency services and much more. Enjoy food prepared by town organizations while you listen to bands. Bounce houses and children’s entertainment. Visit the Friends of Suffield booth by the gazebo for bounce house tickets and to take part in our silent auction. The annual crafts fair will take place on the North Green with nearly 50 artists and crafters. Canine Contest at 2 p.m. Sunday (registration begins at 1 p.m.).
  • 44th Annual Book Sale, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on grounds of Kent Memorial Library, 50 N. Main St., Suffield.
  • Sunday, Sept. 7

  • Family Day, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Veterans Memorial Park, Southwest Avenue, Windsor Locks. (Rain date Sept. 14.) Our annual Family Day consists of carnival games, hay rides, pony rides, food, entertainment, crafts, caricatures, inflatables and more. Admission is free and most activities are free of charge. Info: 860-292-8696.
  • Sunday, Sept. 7

  • Concerts on Congamond, 2 to 5 p.m., 433 Babbs Road, West Suffield. The Nelson W. Babb Memorial Music Series and 2 Left Feet Blues Festival present Kats & Jammers Big Band, an 18-piece swing dance band. All concerts presented on our outdoor stage overlooking the lake. Bring a cooler with your choice of refreshments. Profits benefit the Babb’s Restoration Fund. $10 donation at the gate. Info: www.babbspark.org or www.2leftfeetbluesfestival.com.
  • Monday, Sept. 8

  • Mark’s Classic Cruise, 5 to 9 p.m., weather permitting, 22 Russell Road, East Granby. Billed as the largest weekly cruise night in New England, it takes place every Monday from May to September. Sept. 8 is Firebird and Camaro Night, with Ottis & the Boomers performing live. Info: www.markscruisenight.com.
  • Friday, Sept. 12

  • Friday Night Blues, 8 to 11 p.m., Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, 11 Schoephoester Road, Windsor Locks. Performance by Mosiac Blues Band. barbecue specials. Info: 860-627-5808.
  • Saturday, Sept. 13

  • East Granby Lions Annual Fall Flea Market, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., East Granby Plaza, corner of Rainbow Road (Connecticut Route 20) and School Street. No admission charge for the public. Flea market and food items for sale at the Lions trailer.
    u Living History Day, 1 to 4 p.m., Phelps-Hathaway House & Garden, 55 S. Main St., Suffield. Meet the Phelps family. Visit with a wealthy post-Revolutionary household as they go through a day. Admission is $10.
  • REAP Street Pop-up Arts Fest, 1 to 4 p.m., Broad Street, downtown Windsor. A pop-up is a store, a restaurant, a collection of shops, or an event that all share one common trait: They aren’t around for very long. Info: reap1.org.
  • Annual Harvest Dinner and Silent Auction, 4 to 10 p.m., Hilltop Farm, 1608 Mapleton Ave. (Route 159), Suffield. Benefits the Friends of the Farm at Hilltop. Dinner served at 6 p.m., prepared by the Country Diner. Truck Stop Troubadours playing from 7 to 10 p.m. Info: 860-668-5650.
  • Monday, Sept. 15

  • Joseph B. Nilsen Memorial Golf Tournament, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Simsbury Farms Golf Course, 100 Old Farms Road, Simsbury. Sponsored by the Granby and Bradley Regional chambers of commerce. Info: gcoc@granbycoc.org.
  • Stamp Camp card-making workshop, 6 to 8 p.m., Windsor Locks Public Library, 28 Main St., Windsor Locks. Presented by Crystal Komora, also known as “Super Stamp Girl.” Attendees will create two cards and a candy-themed 3-D project. The class is free and limited to 12 participants, so registration is required. Info: 860-627-1495, www.windsorlockslibrary.org.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 17

  • TVCA Business After Hours, 5 to 7 p.m., Connecticut Trolley Museum. The Tobacco Valley Chamber Alliance Business After Hours is a great event to network, have fun as well as to see what the hosting chamber has to offer the area. Refreshments and trolley rides will be just part of the evening activities. R.S.V.P. to Jim at 860-292-6776. The TVCA comprises Bloomfield, Bradley Regional, East Windsor, Granby, Suffield and Windsor chambers of commerce. This event is open to TVCA, Metro Hartford and NCCC members.
  • Friday, Sept. 19

  • History Group: Tracks in Time, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Windsor Locks Public Library, community room (side entrance), 28 Main St., Windsor Locks. Free program about the prehistory of the Connecticut River Valley and the environs in which dinosaurs tracked the vast shores, leaving behind “pages” containing their legacy in the strata present along the river’s shore and bottom today. See and touch dinosaur footprints collected from the Windsor Locks-Enfield-Suffield surrounds. To reserve seats: 860-627-1495.
  • Third Friday Networking Group, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., Bobby V’s, 11 Schoephoester Rd, Windsor Locks. The free group is a business-to-business networking and connections group. It is a great way to meet other local business owners. Supported by the Granby Chamber of Commerce, Bradley Regional Chamber of Commerce, Suffield Chamber of Commerce and Bobby V’s, this meeting is open to everyone in the Tobacco Valley region. Info: 860-653-3833.
  • Saturday, Sept. 20

  • President’s Golf Tournament, sponsored by Windsor Locks Lions Club, 10:30 a.m., Suffield Country Club. Registration at 10:30 a.m., play starts at 12:30 p.m. The event is a four-person, 18-hole scramble. The $125 entry fee includes green fees, cart, prizes, lunch and dinner. Golfers are asked to register before Sept. 13 to assure a place in the tourney. Lion John Boscarino and his committee are looking for assistance from Lions to solicit tee sponsorships and raffle prize donations.
  • Antiques Appraisal & Document Sale, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., King House Museum, 232 S. Main St., Suffield. Bring your antiques. Cost is $5 for one item or $10 for three. Please no jewelry. Suffield-related paper ephemera on sale. Info: 860-668-5256.
  • 26th Annual East Windsor Community Day, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Main Street, Broad Brook. This year’s theme is “Community & Youth.” Parade at 10 a.m. from Broad Brook Elementary School and Rye Street to the Middle School grounds on Main Street. Followed by a fair-like atmosphere. Spirit award ceremony, chili cook off, games, live entertainment and demos,food, kids activities, community and vendor booths. NFL Punt Pass & Kick with East Windsor Lions, open to boys and girls 6 to 15 (entry forms at www.nflppk.com or from Mike Kreuzer, 860-623-5425.
  • Monday, Sept. 22

  • Laughter Yoga, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Windsor Locks Public Library, 28 Main St., Windsor Locks. Brian Hickey of Hickey Healing will show how voluntary laughter’s benefits are similar to those of spontaneous laughter. Participants must bring their playfulness to this group laughter program to achieve maximum benefits. To register: 860-627-1495.
  • Monday-Sunday, Sept. 22-28

  • Flights and Fantasies Quilt Show, New England Air Museum, 36 Perimeter Road, Bradley International Airport,Windsor Locks. See a spectacular array of quilts among the collection of aircraft. This year’s theme is “Pack Your Troubles” in commemoration of World War I. More than 150 quilts on exhibit, a special exhibit of Sue Reich’s World War I quilts, lectures, trunk shows, raffles, food vendors. Info: 860-623-3305.
  • Sunday, Sept. 28

  • East Granby Lions Fall Bird Seed Sale, 9 a.m. to noon, East Granby Center Firehouse. Annual fall bird seed sale order pickup date.
  • Monday, Sept. 29

  • Tibetan Singing Bowls, 6 to 7 p.m., Windsor Locks Public Library, 28 Main St., Windsor Locks. Brian and Marcey Hickey of Hickey Healing will perform with Tibetan Singing Bowls. Join us to experience this gong bath to enhance your well-being. To register: 860-627-1495.
  • Friday-Saturday, Oct. 3-4

  • Celebrate Granby, all day at Salmon Brook Park in Granby. Business expo, local restaurants and organizations selling food and beverages, nonprofits providing information, a beer garden, and family entertainment including live music and a two-day carnival.
  • Saturday, Oct. 4

  • Autumn Book Sale, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Windsor Locks Public Library, 28 Main St., Windsor Locks. The library’s annual autumn book sale will begin Saturday. Doors open at 10 a.m. There are no previews. The sale will continue through the month of October. Info: 860-627-1495.
  • BDL-MaintenanceCrew_002By Robin Lee Michel, For The Airport News

    During winters past, intense storms have essentially closed parts of New England, including Connecticut and Massachusetts. However, maintenance department employees at Bradley International Airport didn’t always know that. It didn’t matter — at the airport, it’s business as usual regardless of conditions beyond its boundaries.
    When storms hit, generators powered up and snow removal teams tackled the runways and roads. “Airlines might stop but it’s very unusual if the airport closes,” said Trent Wright, manager of maintenance.
    “People are in the buildings 365/24/7. You still have to take care of operations,” said Gregory Jefferson, transportation general supervisor in the maintenance department.
    There are 43 full-time employees in the department, 23 on the grounds and 20 on buildings, all members of the Connecticut State Employees Association/SEIU Local 2001. More than half have worked at the airport for more than 20 years, including Wright, who has logged 27 years, having started in the electrical shop. Secretary Kathy Calsetta helps keep the department running smoothly.
    “We maintain all systems at the airport,” Wright said. These include buildings, grounds and airfield maintenance, plumbing, electricity, painting and carpentry, indoors and out, wherever needed. The department also oversees 15 to 20 miles of security fences and 30 miles of roads. “Anything you could ever think of, we take care of,” Wright said.
    With about 2,400 acres, Bradley has a lot of ground — figuratively and literally — for the department to cover. Its $18 million annual budget covers operating costs, personnel, utilities, contract services and commodities, Wright said.
    The department operates in three shifts except during winter storms, and then the men do whatever it takes. Snow removal vehicles make up the majority of the 180 pieces of equipment in the fleet. These include snowplows with blades up to 36 feet wide, loaders, snowblowers, snow brooms, snow pushers and 4,000-gallon de-icer trucks.
    Before a storm arrives, all equipment is checked and readied to roll out. “Everything has to be ready at any time,” Jefferson said.
    When the snow begins falling, staffers are called out to keep all surfaces clear. “Winter operations are a big component. It takes everybody we have to keep the taxiways and runways clean,” Wright said. “Snow removal here is 24 hours.” Because of the scope of the snow operations, contractors keep the terminal gates open.
    However, ice and sleet can sometimes be even more challenging if the surface temperature drops below zero. Sections of the runways will be temporarily closed while being cleared but usually reopened within half an hour. “The object is to keep the airport open,” Wright said.
    Maintenance crews are responsible for de-icing the aircrafts, and collecting and processing the used glycol, in compliance with state laws. Sand is spread, and it’s not just any sand; it must meet Federal Aviation Administration specifications.
    Safety is always the top priority, regardless of the season, and the coordination of the teams is essential. So is “situational awareness,” which means employees outside must know their exact location at any time. “These are active runways,” Wright said.
    Communication is ongoing with several radios to keep in contact with the tower, operations, maintenance headquarters and one another. Colored lights and signs that are coded with colors and letters keep the drivers (and pilots) on the right track even when the visibility is minimal.
    “We have to be sure where all the equipment is all the time. It requires intricate operations,” Wright said. Some new employees must hold a commercial driver’s license and undergo six months of training to ensure they can safely navigate the airfield, understand the coded signs and lights, and master radio communications. Being unaware could result in disaster.
    “It’s like a chess match,” said John Wallace, CAA manager of communications. “It’s an amazing operation.”
    Runway maintenance is ongoing, weather permitting. There are always markings to be painted and minor paving jobs. “From spring to early November, we are out painting every day,” Wright said.
    The annual paint budget alone is $114,500 for 3,800 gallons of paint and 12 tons of glass beads, which are added as the paint is applied. The glass beads not only enhance the reflectivity of the markings but add traction to the surface. White is the most widely used color, followed by yellow on the taxiways and black for borders. All must be FAA standard paint colors. Each year, a contractor scrapes off the tire rubber that accumulates on the runways, including runway 6/24, the longest at 9,600 feet and 200 feet wide.
    In addition to painting, “lighting is the other critical element,” according to Wright. There are hundreds of miles of underground electrical cables and 1,650 runway lights to maintain, which can prove to be a challenge to repair when they malfunction. The five-man electrical crew takes care of every light bulb, not only on the field but within the buildings, as well as all other electrical systems.
    There are also plumbing/heating, carpentry/painting, vehicle repair, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning divisions of the Maintenance Department. There are hundreds of acres of grass to be regularly mowed. “There are a lot of aspects to maintenance. A lot goes on behind closed doors that people never see,” Wright said.
    “There’s constant activity and everything has to be maintained,” Jefferson said.
    The operations hub is the 27,000-square-foot maintenance facility and the similarly sized, adjoining cold storage equipment building, which houses most of the vehicles. Designated as Building 85-168, it was built about eight years ago on Light Lane. There are separate smaller shops for the adjunct divisions. Depending on the season, equipment can be stored indoors or out.
    Milo Mazurick, the transportation garage supervisor and employee of more than 25 years, said some of the vehicles date to 1997. However, because they are so carefully maintained, most are still in top condition, he said. Mazurick is looking forward to receiving new equipment during the next few years, a result of CAA’s large investment in the department.
    Working at Bradley or any airport is unlike working a similar job —for the Department of Transportation or town highway department, for instance. “It’s completely different working on ‘the inside’ rather than ‘the outside,’ ” Wright said. “We use specialized equipment in a specialized environment.”
    Most of the employees are experienced in certain trades, for example in mechanics or electrical, yet learn primarily on the job once they are hired at Bradley. “This is an airport environment and it’s very unique,” Wright said.
    Because of the necessity of working closely together in ever-changing situations, camaraderie is essential. “This is your life here,” Jefferson said. “It is a city in itself.”
    “This is a great place to work. It’s like a family,” Mazurick said. “It’s a different world.”

    By The Airport News

    Bradley International Airport ranks better than average in the first two quarters of a customer satisfaction survey that aims to help participating airports improve their passenger experience.
    Bradley placed seventh among 17 airports in its “airport panel,” Executive Director Kevin Dillon told the Connecicut Airport Authority board of directors in August. The overall satisfaction rating was 4.20 in the first quarter and 4.29 in the second quarter, on a scale of 1 to 5.
    Dillon called the ratings a “B-plus,” but added: “We still have a lot of work to get to the top rankings.” He noted, however, that the best score in the “airport panel” was 4.50.
    “We’re doing OK — we want to do better,” said Mary Ellen Jones, chairwoman of the CAA board.
    The Airports Council International’s “Airport Service Quality” survey, referred to as ACI-ASW, is conducted by market research firm DKMA. Bradley contracted for one year at a cost of $39,840. Each quarter, 350 airport customers — both business and leisure passengers — are surveyed.
    The “airport panel” is a selection of “peer airports” used for benchmark comparisons. The selections were made based largely on other airports that passengers would be comparing Bradley with. Besides Bradley, the panel comprises Austin, Baltimore, Calgary, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Edmonton, Jacksonville, Memphis, Montreal, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Antonio, St. Louis and Tampa.
    Tampa had the highest score in the first two quarters, Dillon said, and Cleveland had the lowest, though the point spread was not wide.
    Major strengths of Bradley cited in the first two quarters of survey results were ease of finding the way through the airport, the flight information screens, courtesy and helpfulness of check-in staff, and courtesy and helpfulness of airport staff.
    The survey noted improvements from quarter to quarter in check-in efficiency, waiting times at check-in and at passport and ID inspection, and Internet wi-fi access.
    “Ongoing initiatives” — where there is room for improvement — included shopping facilities and their value, restaurant facilities and their value, parking and its value for the money, business and executive lounges, speed of baggage delivery, availability of banks and ATMs, Internet wi-fi, and the availability of baggage carts.
    Dillon updated the board on developments in several of those areas:
    Officials are always working on attracting shopping and restaurant concessions, and one possibility being discussed is a Dairy Queen outlet.
    The airport recently completed a “request for proposals” process involving new club space at the airport, and the Sheraton hotel proposal has been selected, Dillon said. Negotiations are underway.
    Wi-fi — the wireless network connection to the Internet — has had bandwidth problems at certain times of the day, Dillon said. The airport’s information technology staff is working to add capacity.
    Bradley is talking with a vendor for baggage carts, but it was noted that cart operations may no longer be profitable. Most travelers have wheeled luggage these days, board members said.

    OXFORD —The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine,” the Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft,” and a P-51 Mustang fighter will fly into Waterbury-Oxford Airport on Friday, Sept. 5, for a three-day visit during the Collings Foundation’s “Wings of Freedom Tour” of 110 cities.
    The foundation says this is a rare opportunity to visit, explore, and learn more about these treasures of aviation history. The B-17 is one of eight in flying condition in the United States. The B-24J and Full Dual Control P-51C Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the world.
    The tour will arrive at Waterbury-Oxford Airport at 2 p.m. Sept. 5 and will be on display until the aircraft depart Sept. 7 after 5 p.m. Hours of ground tours and display are 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
    Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out. The requested donation is $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12. World War II veterans can tour through the aircraft at no cost. Visitors may also experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft. Flights on either the B-17 or B-24 are $450 per person. P-51 flights are $2,200 for a half-hour and $3,200 for a full hour. For reservations, call 800-568-8924.
    The Collings Foundation is a nonprofit educational foundation devoted to organizing “living history” events.