Despite COVID 19 recovery challenges United Airlines flights operated by SkyWest Airlines set records for total passenger enplanements. During July 2021 a total of 4,642 total passengers traveled to and from Salina on United flights to Denver, Chicago and beyond. July passenger activity was a level not seen at the Salina Airport in over 30 years.
Both United and SkyWest are cautiously managing their return to pre-Covid19 travel levels. Both air carriers are carefully allocating jets and crew that are in short supply. Their priority is to provide each passenger safe and dependable travel on the United network of domestic and international destinations.
A part of providing safe air travel is aircraft maintenance. Salina’s 1 Vision Aviation is key player in the nation’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industry. 1 Vision provides maintenance check services to multiple U.S. air carriers and has recently added SkyWest as a “essential maintenance” customer.
This issue of Reporting Points provides details about record passenger activity and 1 Vision’s new SkyWest contract. Thank you for reading this edition of Reporting Points.
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Salina Airport Authority
Salina Regional Airport & Airport Industrial Center
Salina Airport Passenger Numbers Reach Record Levels
New Passenger Seating Under Construction
Coming Soon to Salina Regional Airport
August 5, 2021
United Airlines’ flights operated by SkyWest Airlines at the Salina Regional Airport have set new records for passenger enplanements. Flights to Denver, Chicago and beyond are at capacity on the 50-seat regional jets that serve Salina. During July 2021 a record 4,642 total passengers traveled to and from Salina on United flights. July 2021 passenger activity exceeded Salina Airport passenger numbers for both 2020 and 2019.
In response to the dramatic increase in passengers, the Salina Airport Authority board of directors approved a $675,000 project to expand and improve passenger seating at the M.J. Kennedy Air Terminal. The concourse improvements will add seating for up to 125 passengers. The project will also improve access and use of the TSA’s passenger screening checkpoint. A second phase of construction will include new concourse restrooms.
“Numbers are off the charts,” said Gary Foss, managing partner of the ArkStar Group, the Salina Airport Authority’s air service consultant.
“Things are a lot better than they were last year at this time,” he said.
July 2021 total passengers (4,642) were up 509% versus July 2020, Foss reported. July 2021 total passenger count was up 14% compared to July 2019.
United nonstop flights to Denver and Chicago are running at close to 75% capacity, Rogers said, including a record 79% load-factor in the fourth week of July.
Luci Larson is relishing these times as co-owner of Action Travel, 116 S. Seventh. “It’s like someone flipped a switch back in March and it’s been a gold rush,” Larson said. “Floodgates opened, and we’ve not slowed down since.”
Larson was early in her travel agent career during the previous flight bonanza more than four decades ago, but those times don’t compare with today.
“I can’t remember demand being as high as it is right now,” she said.
In many cases, Salina is winning on fares.
“Anytime anyone calls us, they right away want to know what the rates are out of Wichita and Kansas City. They assume that’s where they’ll find the bargain basement rates,” Larson said. “I tell my customers, ‘Hang on just a minute,’ and one out of three times, Salina has beaten them. There have been a few times where it’s been a little higher, but it is so worth it not having to drive somewhere.”.
She has also reported booking a number of international, transatlantic trips.
“The flights match up great in and out of Salina” Larson said. “On some of the maps we use, we have a star. We are no longer a little dot. Nobody asks me anymore what the code is for Salina. They recognize SLN.
“It’s a win-win all the way,” she said. “I’m happy, but oh my gosh, have we been busy.”
Did You Know?
Load factor is a metric used in the airline industry that measures the percentage of available seating capacity that has been filled with passengers. A high load factor indicates that an airline has sold most of its available seats and is preferred over a low load factor.
SkyWest Airlines Awards Contract to 1 Vision Salina
1 Vision employees perform maintenance on aircraft in Hangar 959 located at Salina Regional Airport. (Photo by Salina Airport Authority)
August 4, 2021
More opportunity has touched down at the Salina Regional Airport since SkyWest Airlines, operator of United Airlines flights from Salina to Chicago and Denver, awarded a maintenance contract to 1 Vision Aviation Salina.
The aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) company at the Salina Airport, specializes in regional jet MRO and is eager to serve the needs of the St. George, Utah based airline.
Maintenance work in Salina could grow by 50 percent, said Jeremy Bailey, 1 Vision director of maintenance, and will further diversify the company’s customer list.
SkyWest will initially send regional jets to 1 Vision for conformity checks, in other words, making sure that the jets conform to SkyWest’s operating specifications.
“They’re sending us these planes to test us out,” said Jim Sponder 1 Vision president and CEO.
“We’ll absolutely do well,” he said, “so more will come.”
The contract is a big step for 1 Vision, Sponder said, and will allow 1 Vision Salina to grow its workforce.
The SkyWest contract continues Salina’s momentum, said Eric Brown, president and CEO of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce.
“1 Vision entered the Salina market with a great reputation of executing high quality work and excellent service,” he said. “This new contract with Skywest Airlines is a testament of the expertise and trust the 1 Vision team has garnered in the airline industry. This contract also signals growth by this local business and new opportunities for job seekers to expand their careers here in Salina.”
Housed in a huge Salina Airport hangar, 1 Vision has operated at Salina since Sept. 1, 2019. Since 2020 the company has provided line maintenance for SkyWest’s United Express flights at the airport. The company’s line maintenance work has enabled SkyWest to consistently operated scheduled flights on time.
The goal at 1 Vision is to become SkyWest’s essential maintenance provider doing detailed inspections known as “checks” on the airline’s fleet of regional jets, Merritt said.
SkyWest sent officials to Salina for a pair of audits in the past month to evaluate 1 Vision’s ability to perform necessary maintenance and inspections, and 1 Vision scored high marks.
“With a fleet of over 450 aircraft flying to 241 destinations throughout North America our maintenance needs are great” said Greg Atkin, SkyWest’s Managing Director, Business Development. “We are pleased to be working with 1Vision, a maintenance provider with a great reputation and an operation in the center of the country that can serve our needs from multiple hubs.”
Developments at 1 Vision provide even more real-world examples and opportunity for the nationally known aerospace training program at the adjacent Kansas State University Salina campus.
“The addition of 1 Vision Aviation into the Salina workforce has already had a positive impact on the quality of our student experience,” said Alysia Starkey, CEO and dean of the college.
“Having a respected and growing MRO in our local community affords students a unique opportunity to gain relevant work experience while working toward their career goals,” she said.
“The leadership at 1 Vision is incredibly supportive and understanding of the need for students to balance coursework with part-time employment. Just having them in Salina has brought additional attention to our aviation maintenance management program which has now grown beyond capacity.”
K-State is reciprocating by providing “additional pathways that we can assist 1 Vision in meeting their employment needs,” Starkey said. “It is an exciting challenge for universities to think outside of the traditional approach to education and we are fortunate to have a dedicated partner in 1 Vision Aviation.”
Did You Know?
Aircraft maintenance checks are recurring inspections that must be completed on all airline aircraft after a certain amount of time or usage. Each airline prepares a Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP) as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to keep aircraft safe and airworthy.
Inspections are referred to as “checks” and can be either an A check, B check, C check, or D check. A and B checks are lighter checks while C and D are considered heavier checks. Each maintenance check consists of numerous tasks.
1 Vision Salina can also perform maintenance on business jets and air cargo aircraft.
NASA brings high-altitude research plane to Salina Regional Airport
July 28, 2021
You may see an unusual plane flying in and out of Salina over the next few weeks after Salina Regional Airport was chosen by NASA as the base for a research project.
The Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTSS) project began flights from Salina Regional Airport about two weeks ago and sees an aircraft travel upwards of 70,000 feet to look at strong thunderstorms in the stratosphere.
The project uses a NASA ER-2, a variant of the Lockheed U-2, equipped with 12 different scientific instruments to collect data in flight.
Kenneth Jucks, the project manager for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Program, said the majority of the agency's scientific work is done with space-based data, but aircraft are used to enhance the science NASA conducts.
"Often the space-based data tell us about what's on in the earth's surface or the atmosphere, ocean, etc. that we can't quite tell what's going on with the satellite data alone," Jucks said. "NASA will often do aircraft campaigns to try and go attack those particular questions."
This project comes from what Jucks called Earth Venture Suborbital solicitations, put out about every four years to scientists and organizations to address these questions.
"We tell people to write proposals, put together a good idea that can be done, that's important to do and shows that you have a good approach for addressing that question," Jucks said.
Jucks said this time around, NASA selected a proposal led by Ken Bowman of Texas A&M University.
"They put together a very compelling program that reviewed very well," Jucks said. "We're excited to go and do it."
Looking at intense thunderstorms
The DCOTSS team includes researchers from seven universities, four NASA centers, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Bowman said the DCOTSS study is designed to look at the effects of intense thunderstorms on the stratosphere.
He said the study is looking particularly in the United States and during the summer as that's when intense thunderstorms tend to happen.
While most thunderstorms happen in the lower troposphere, Bowman said stronger storms can raise higher.
"When we get particularly intense thunderstorms, the updrafts, the rising air in the storm, can actually overshoot into the layer above, which is the stratosphere," Bowman said.
The stratosphere contains things such as the earth's ozone layer, which protects humans from the sun's ultraviolet radiation.
"We're interesting in how these storms might effect the ozone layer, among other things," Bowman said.
As these types of storms are more common than once realized, Bowman said this is the first research project specifically designed to investigate their effect on the stratosphere.
Bowman said the ER-2 research aircraft is suited well for this project as it is designed to operate at very high altitudes.
"For DCOTSS, the ER-2 is carrying a payload of 12 state-of-the-art scientific instruments to measure meteorological perimeters, gases and particles that come out of the tops of these storms into the stratosphere," Bowman said.
Storms common in this region
The choice for Salina as the base for this project was a strategic one.
Bowman said these types of storms are common in the central part of the contiguous United States and historical weather radar and data prove that.
"We've looked at many years of data and by far the greatest collection of these overshooting storms is right in the center of the U.S. in the plains," Bowman said.
Salina being close to the middle of the region is good for the project as it puts the projected storms close to here.
Proximity to these storms isn't the only reason Salina was chosen though and Bowman said the facilities at the airport are great for what the project needs.
"The runway is wide enough for the very long wings on the ER-2, and (also) long enough," Bowman said. "They also have great hangar facilities for both the aircraft and also for all the scientists for lab and office space."
In all, Bowman said there are at least 50 people who are already based in Salina while the project is going on, including scientists, pilots, management and logistics staff and aircraft crews. He said including people rotating in and others who will arrive later there are around 100 to 125 people total as part of the team.
"We'll be operating from Salina this summer and next...flying two to three times per week," Bowman said.
So far, Bowman said the team has completed four flights from Salina and the team is just beginning to see some of the results and data from those flights.
The DCOTSS team is hoping to make eight or nine more flights before the end of next month. Next year, the team is looking at arriving earlier in the year to study the storms beginning in late spring and into early and mid summer.
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center ER-2 high-altitude aircraft prepped for Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTSS) science flights in Palmdale, California. This craft is based in Salina for the next few weeks to study effects of strong thunderstorms on the stratosphere. NASA/Lauren Hughes
As expected, July brought some warmer, or should I say “hotter” weather as well as a couple of month-long training exercises and our annual Runway Safety Action Team meeting that was held in Hangar 600. Our meeting consisted of 18 personnel that reflected on the previous year’s activities and also discussed “Best Practices” moving forward. Additionally, we gave some insight on what’s to come next year in terms of future events and construction projects for the airport.
The months temperatures ran hot enough that departures required longer distances or room for climb outs to gain the altitudes pilots desired and aircraft that landed elected to roll out longer then they normally do, thus exiting the runway later than anticipated, to avoid overheating brakes or other aircraft systems; therefore, controllers had to be more vigilant during these situations so not to force an aircraft to do something it may not be capable of.
The exercises hosted this month that will both continue into August. One of them is a mission that requires balloon launches to gather atmospheric data used in conjunction with the testing that they are conducting. The second mission is testing an old military DC-9, regathering lost data, to determine present performance before the aircraft goes through a refit of sorts; therefore, the aircraft is here in Salina with a runway length that more than supports its’ effort. Once this testing period and the refit is done, the aircraft plans to come back and complete another series of performance tests at a date in the future.
We are hoping to be back up to normal staffing in the not-so-distant future with two candidates in the hiring process. All in all, everything is operating smoothly with lots of experience gaining opportunities with the current exercises and those up-coming added to our normal traffic flow.
That wraps up our time for now … if you should have any feedback on our team’s performance or ways that we can improve, please feel free to submit a survey anytime at
Be safe, fly often, and make the most of every situation every day …
Air Traffic Manager
Salina (SLN) FCT
2804 Arnold Avenue
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Call the Salina Airport Authority today at (785) 827-3914 to schedule a tour, or email email@example.com.
Fly with us! September 23 - 25
Ready for an exciting tour of Kansas?! The Fly Kansas Air Tour highlights the economic impact our local airports have on their communities, as well as promotes the importance of STEM and aviation education. This year will kick-off in Wellington, multiple community events across the state, and end with a Beech factory tour in Wichita. Don't miss this fun tour of Kansas filled with aviation camaraderie and free food for all pilots/crew flying the tour!