New FAA Building to Have Broad Impact on OKC

Article excerpt

By Bill May

Journal Record Staff Reporter

A one-of-a-kind building at Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center will increase Oklahoma City employment, improve services and, at the same time, help fight the drug wars, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.

In his first public speaking engagement since his appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier this month, David R. Hinson, a Muskogee native, said the $10 million structure is "destined to become one of America's most important tools in our war against drug traffic in the United States."

"This new Registry Building will fulfill a number of requirements that we in the FAA have undertaken to help law enforcement agencies stop the flow of illegal drugs," he said during the dedication ceremony attended by officials from city, county, state and federal governments.

Federal aviation regulations require that records of all certified pilots, aircraft mechanics and inspectors, along with every civil airplane in the United States, be kept in Oklahoma City. Along with this information, the agency is required to maintain reports on difficulty with servicing an aircraft, accident and incident reports, and records of enforcement actions.

Now, because of newly developed technology dealing with data storage and retrieval, this information will be available almost instantaneously to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Easier and faster access to these records will enable police officers and drug investigators to know of pilots who have been convicted of drug-related offenses and what aircraft have been modified to extend their range or carry a hidden cargo.

Although the building's dedication was Thursday morning, many of the offices already are occupied, and work is under way to implement the new system, which should become operational in early 1995, according to Earl Mahoney, manager of the automation technology staff of the Aviation Systems Standards office of the FAA.

As the system is developed, employees will transfer airman information contained on 12,000 rolls of microfilm and 30 million images of aircraft documentation data from microfiche to electronic tape storage. The system designed by his office will then transfer that massive amount of material onto optical laser discs for use when needed, Mahoney said.

"When this whole system is completed and online, it will contain about 80,000 pages on each (optical laser disc), which will give us storage for 110 million pages of documents in just one `juke box' (information retrieval device used by optical laser disc technology)," he said. …