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Business Observer Monday, Apr. 6, 2009 12 years ago

Firm's study lifted by Hudson crash

Study focused on eliminating the use of ponds at airports to reduce the number of birds they attract.

For several years, Sarasota's MEA Group Inc. has been pushing to complete a Statewide Airport Stormwater Study for the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to eliminate the use of ponds on airports to reduce the birds they attract.

In the three years since the Review profiled the small engineering firm, it was sold to the much-larger Springfield, Ill-based architectural and engineering company Hanson Professional Services but there has been little progress on the study due to a lack of federal funding.

That was all before U.S. Airways Flight 1549's miraculous landing in the Hudson River.

Now, Kelly Rubino, principal of the former MEA Group and now with Hanson Professional Services, reports the firm has several meetings with several national politicians.

“It's possible we'll accomplish more in the next few months than we've been able to the past few years,” Rubino says. “[The Hudson River crash] brought the issue to the forefront. It certainly gave it a little more 'oomph.' The FAA has been interested in this, but they have a lot of different interests. What we're looking for is a political champion to get behind this.”

At stake for the firm besides the obvious positive of reducing bird-airplane strikes, is the lucrative consulting work that would be created by changes to the stormwater standards.

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