VRA was contracted under RS&H Engineers to investigate the building of a new general aviation (GA) Federal Inspection Services (FIS) facility to meet the U.S. CBP GA design standards for the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA). The airport had been a port of entry (POE) with a landing rights designation for over 40 years. The Customs inspector’s office was located on the third floor of the airport’s commercial terminal and the actual clearings were taking place on the apron of the Fixed Base Operator (FBO), a 15-minute walk from the terminal. The situation created a security/safety issue, and the offices did not meet the CBP GA design specifications. It had to be corrected or AMA would risk losing its landing rights designation from CBP.
VRA’s assignment was to approach the research through interviews with business aircraft owner, pilots, city leaders and regional Economic Development Corporations (EDCs). From that information, VRA would develop a Benefits Analysis and Financial Strategy to justify the estimated expenditure of over $3 million for a new GA FIS. There were limited aircraft clearings (35/year) representing approximately 231 passengers coming from Mexico and Canada in 2019. The second challenge was the limited business GA activity at AMA. The airport was commercially served by three airlines and one FBO.
VRA interviewed nearly 40 people in the aviation industry and reviewed over a dozen studies on the future and economic contribution of GA before and after the 2020 pandemic. Studies included AOPA 2019 State of General Aviation, Amarillo EDC 2020 Economic Review, TxDOT General Aviation in Texas, TxDOT Department of Aviation Economic Impact Study, and AOPA 2019 State of General Aviation.
The analysis summary provided a list of pros and cons for the airport sponsor to consider in its decision making. However, the study could not provide the City of Amarillo a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to its dilemma with U.S. CBP’s request. In the conclusion, the study supplied a better understanding of the current GA environment at AMA and how it could be improved, and what the impacts might be if AMA built a new GA FIS, and the ramifications if it did not
Prime: RS&H Engineers
VRA served as subconsultant.
Scope of Work
Government agency coordination
Benefit Study development
Financial Strategy development