2022 MAAE Conference
From September 12th to 16th, the West Michigan Regional Airport team attended the Michigan Association of Airport Executives conference on Mackinac Island. The primary goal of the Michigan Association of Airport Executives (MAAE) is to assist airport executives in fulfilling their responsibilities to the airports and communities they serve.
Aaron Thelenwood, Airport Authority Director and Amanda VanLaar, Sustainability and Operations Specialist attended the annual conference to learn from key stakeholders and stay up to date on the latest operations updates, grant opportunities, and industry regulations.
MAAE said, “Our annual conference is designed to provide airport sponsors, managers, consultants, and others interested in airport management practices the opportunity to meet in an open forum to share information and ideas.” For a General Aviation Airport like West Michigan Regional, the conference’s roundtable sessions were an especially valuable collaborative tool, encouraging discussion and problem-solving between GA Airport Operators across the state.
This year’s announcement of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) Funding and the FAA’s Climate Challenge for Net-Zero emissions by 2050 has rekindled interest in incorporating sustainability into Airport Operations. Discussions at the MAAE conference included everything from renewable energy generation to grant opportunities for zero-emission vehicles. They also included greenhouse gas reporting initiatives and clean fuel programs.
The aviation industry is currently exploring emerging technology with electric aircraft and Vertical Takeoff and Landing (EVTOL) aircraft. The conference offered a space for preliminary conversations about the impact this technology would have on local and regional airports.
Another crucial takeaway from the week was the importance of community engagement in the aviation sector, especially in building interest in aviation-related careers. As more experienced members of the aviation industry retire, it’s crucial to develop the future of flight and airport operations.
STEMFlights, a student-pilot mentorship organization, had the opportunity to share their involvement across the nation at the conference. Their mission is to connect with interested students and foster their future in the aviation industry.
STEMFlights has developed a partnership with WMRA over the last year and a half. At our Aviation Day event in August, several pilot mentors took students on flight experiences from West Michigan Regional. WMRA continues to develop its educational partnerships and create further opportunities to engage with the West Michigan community – especially in schools and universities.
Overall, MAAE was tremendously successful and served as a wonderful opportunity for our staff to network, engage in business development, and participate in a collaborative environment.