June 17, 2016: The Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) has won four 2016 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards, in recognition of the following innovative initiatives at Miami International Airport: the MIAair Program; the No Drone Zone Public Awareness Campaign; the MIA Honor Flight; and the Sustainability Project at MIA. MDAD will be recognized with other winners from across the country at NACo’s Annual Conference and Exposition Achievement Awards Luncheon in Los Angeles on July 24.
“We put a great deal of effort into being an inclusive, safety-conscious, and environmentally responsible partner in our community, so these NACo awards are deeply gratifying,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González. “We are honored to be recognized as an industry leader alongside other County departments across the nation.”
The MIAair (Airport Instruction and Readiness) program, which was recognized in the Children and Youth category, was launched in November 2015 to give South Floridians with autism-related disorders and other special needs the confidence to enjoy air travel. MIAair participants and their families receive a simulation of the airline check-in and TSA checkpoint screening process, followed by the grand finale – boarding an actual airplane. The program was developed in partnership with the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) and the Ear Institute at UHealth. MIAair is the first U.S. airport partnership with a major university and medical institution that offers guided travel rehearsals and materials to those with special needs.
MIA’s No Drone Zone Awareness Campaign, a winner in the Civic Education and Public Information category, was initiated by MDAD in early 2016 to educate the public about restrictions against flying Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, near MIA and other County airports. The campaign began with a press conference featuring U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration that generated more than half a million media impressions. Radio ads and social media posts, in conjunction with local municipalities and the local school system, gained more than one million impressions as well in the weeks that followed.
Also recognized in the Civic Education and Public Information category was the MIA Honor Flight, a joint effort between MDAD, Honor Flight South Florida and Eastern Air Lines that honored 154 World War II and Vietnam War veterans. The veterans flew from MIA to Washington D.C. and toured the World War II and Korean War memorials in the nation’s capital. The Honor Flight event culminated with a homecoming at MIA, where more than 2,000 South Floridians gathered to take part in a massive receiving line that included local residents of all ages, local elected officials and members of the U.S. military, numerous honor guards, airport employees and passengers.
In the County Resiliency category, the Sustainability Project at MIA won top honors for being one of the largest energy-saving programs in the eastern U.S. In 2015, MIA launched a partnership with Florida Power and Light Services (FPLS) to install $32 million worth of air conditioning and ventilation upgrades, water conservation retrofits, energy-efficient lighting, and other green initiatives that will save the airport more than $40 million in utility costs over 14 years. In terms of environmental conservation, the project will reduce annual carbon emissions at MIA by the equivalent of 5,110 automobiles and water consumption equal to 28 million gallons of water (or 43 Olympic-size swimming pools). In addition to achieving massive energy savings, the project has created more than 300 new jobs.