Complaint made against RIAC

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 6:45pm
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Block Island resident Henry duPont has written a letter of complaint to the Federal Aviation Administration about what he has called “service cuts” to the Block Island State Airport.

The Part 13 complaint went out in a letter dated Jan. 19, 2019. duPont said a Part 13 Complaint is “an informal method available to anyone to complain that the airport sponsors are not operating the airport according to the rules of the airport operating handbook.”

The sponsor in this case is the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. It is duPont’s contention that because RIAC receives $1 million in federal funding due to the number of enplanements at the Block Island State Airport, RIAC is required to provide a certain level of service.

Given that the island airport has been operating without a fixed base operator — an agency that provides services such as parking airplanes and servicing pilot calls — since the beginning of November, that level of service is not being provided at this time.

“Basically, we’re sick of being treated like chopped liver,” DuPont said about his motivation for filing the complaint.

RIAC has recently stated that its intended goal is to return services to the airport to the level that was provided in 2018.

“The disruptions in service provided presents significant airport operations and flight safety issues specifically with the following FAA Airport Sponsor Assurances: Operations and Maintenance; Hazard Removal and Mitigation; Economic Nondiscrimination; Fee and Rental Structure; Airport Revenue.

“Again, we urge RIAC to restore the FBO staffing funds they removed from our airport’s budget and re-engage FlightLevel Aviation to come back to Block Island to resume providing our essential airport FBO services,” duPont’s letter to the FAA stated. “Block Island will get a safe, welcoming, and well-managed airport and RIAC will continue to fulfill its mandate to properly manage the State airport system. Thank you for your review of this Part 13 complaint.”

duPont is also continuing to question why RIAC sent out an RFP last year seeking an FBO for its general aviation airports that allowed the respondents to define the level of service they would like to provide to the state’s five smaller airports.

The introduction to the 2016 RFP states, “The Rhode Island Airport Corporation is seeking information from qualified firms to manage, operate, maintain, and develop Rhode Island’s five (5) General Aviation Airports, either in their entirety, or on a limited basis subject to the terms contained herein.” duPont has been questioning why RIAC allowed prospective respondents the ability to opt out of serving all five airports on a year-round basis.

The most recent RFP that was issued in December 2018 was expressly for services at the Block Island Airport, but duPont said the professional experience section of the RFP was changed dramatically.

The 2016 RFP asks, under the heading Request for Interest Requirements, for “an executive summary to provide a brief description of Respondent’s business activities and resumes of the principals involved in this proposal” and a “detailed summary of experience and expertise which demonstrates the ability of the firm to manage, operate, maintain and develop the Airports, or a subset thereof, in a safe, professional, aesthetically appealing manner, to include obtaining all necessary licenses, permits, or such other required clearances.” It also asks for financial information.

The same heading in the 2018 RFP, Request for Interest Requirements, includes two bullet items:

- Executive summary /Cover sheet (which should not exceed one page, double-sided.

- References (each reference not to exceed one page, double-sided, maximum of five)

In a note to The Block Island Times, duPont asked “why the RIAC October 2016 RFI requesting FBO Aeronautical Services for all the State Airports requires an FBO to demonstrate at least a minimum of ten years’ experience managing airports, like the ones in Rhode Island, and the latest RIAC RFP of December 4 for FBO Services at the Block Island State Airport omits this requirement for demonstrated FBO experience.”

An email to a RIAC representative asking about these changes was not returned by the time the paper went to press.