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Wheels Up (Soon) for National Aviation Day 2020

Jacobs’ Steve Pelham shares thoughts on how air travel reacts to the ongoing pandemic and how health and aviation connected solutions will help get passengers back to flying safely and confidently.

Celebrated in the U.S. on Orville Wright’s – one of aviation’s pioneers – birthday, National Aviation Day is the oldest aviation-themed holiday. What President Franklin D. Roosevelt began in 1939, is recognized today in airports and museums across the country to celebrate the advancements in the industry and look to the future skies.

Below, Jacobs’ Vice President of Aviation for the Americas Steve Pelham reflects on why he’s drawn to the aviation industry and how Jacobs is playing a role in helping the industry pivot toward tomorrow.

I don't know about you, but I sure miss flying. It has been too many days since my last flight. For someone who lives and breathes aviation and has flown millions of miles around our country and around the world, adjusting to the new normal hasn’t been easy. But the good news is our beloved industry is seeing some benefits that may not have been possible without COVID-19:

  • Accomplishing today what may have been put off ‘til tomorrow. Airports who are in a position to seize the opportunity of using available funding to expedite projects, from gate refurbishments to runway resurfacing to 5G technology, are realizing savings in time and money. Instead of completing construction activity on a nightly schedule, returning the asset to service within a handful of hours – some airports are extending closures for weeks or months to complete targeted repairs, deferred maintenance projects or long-duration tasks. When we return to flying, we’ll have some improvements to experience. For example, read about our friends at Long Beach Airport.
  • Touch less. A major shift is taking us toward contactless or touchless passenger processes. From biometric screening for border control, smart boarding and automated bag drop – to fully-automated facial recognition for security and passport control to touchless printing of boarding passes and bag tags, the future has fewer physical touchpoints. We’re thinking through the entire flying process, from booking through to bag reclaim at the trip’s end and can see a viable way to take a seamless trip without a touchpoint. The benefits for the passenger include less concern about germs from the interaction with staff and airport equipment, while the benefits to the airports and airlines potentially include enhanced operational efficiencies and increased capacity from exiting terminal precincts.
  • Thank heroes. Around the world, we’ve identified and begun to give much-deserved thanks - with good reason - to our heroes serving us in healthcare and on the front lines. To the list of heroes, I would like to add those who fly personal protective equipment (PPE) to our cities, take care of families trying to be with each other and transport healthcare teams to where they are needed most. Thank you for keeping air travel part of the solution for those affected by and helping to find a vaccine for COVID-19. But, because heroes aren’t always wearing a cape, be sure to show kindness to everyone you meet. I often see air travelers who need an extra hand with directions, bags or traveling companions and I love the smile on their face when I’m able to point them toward their gate or grab a falling carry-on.

As I wrote last year and still rings true today, but for different reasons, one does not fully comprehend how much aviation is part of the fabric of our world until you ponder what a world without air travel might be. No chance to go see family at the spur of a moment, no chance to network and serve our companies across all the many industries that we all participate in and, no chance to see from the sky the absolute beauty that the world offers in every country, city, state and region. I have watched a favorite United Airlines commercial several times the last two weeks. It reminds me, soon it will be time to get back on a plane and go see those clients, friends and families again. We miss the personal connection.  Let’s go.  On behalf of Jacobs and myself - Happy National Aviation Day 2020. Wheels Up!

Meet Jacobs

We’re proud of our industry-leading position and the ability to help airlines and airports maintain business continuity by planning, designing and implementing business strategies to help return significant levels of traffic to the world’s airports by addressing safety for both employees and passengers to keep air travel a safe and viable option and to keep our economies moving forward. Click here to read five steps of how we’re helping with recovery plans for airports and aviation clients on their journey towards a pre-pandemic level of demand. 

Moving forward, health will be an important component of the ways we gather, travel, work and more. From physical distancing and testing to tracing and moving to touchless, this article explores using the power of science the health to redefine the future of air travel.

With extensive strategy, company development and change enablement experience with both products and services in several different industries, Steve Pelham serves as Jacobs’ Vice President of Aviation for the Americas. Breaking down complex problems into solvable components, he enjoys raising the bar, seeing teammates develop beyond their dreams while creating satisfied clients as Jacobs drives innovative, sustainable solutions for airport owners and their customers.

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