February 3rd, 2012|
February 3, 2012
More than 80 percent of Alaska’s communities lie off the road or ferry system, accessible only by air, according to Alaska Dispatch.
Airport and aviation infrastructure are vital to many rural communities in providing much-needed goods and services.
On Tuesday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released its annual “Alaska Airports and Aviation” report for 2011, which summarizes the numerous initiatives that the Statewide Aviation Division will undertake in the coming year, including 18 airport improvement projects costing more than $100 million, as well as numerous safety and education initiatives.
Additionally, Steve Hatter, deputy commissioner of aviation with the DOT, said that rural Alaskans have an “enplanement” rate — the frequency with which they fly in an airplane — eight times above the national average for rural America. Rural Alaskans also ship nearly 40 times more freight than other rural Americans.
The DOT, which operates 254 airports of the more than 700 total airports around Alaska, said that aviation accounted for about 10 percent of all employment in the state and 8 percent of gross state product.
The DOT is also undertaking numerous safety initiatives in 2012, the foremost of which is the continued development of the NextGen satellite communication program, which the Federal Aviation Administration hopes will improve safety for aviators around the U.S.