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MEDIA INFO

MEDIA KIT
The purpose of this Media Kit is to provide information to news media organizations designed to facilitate news media coverage of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA).  Please visit the pages and documents linked below. 

If you need further assistance, please contact the airport marketing and communications manager at 616-233-6053.  Office hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.  After hours, news media should contact the airport Communications Center at 616-233-6055.

NOTE TO MEDIA:
News media may leave their marked vehicles in the designated parking area near gate 4 while on assignment at GFIA. This parking area can be accessed by taking Ross Drive (runs parallel to Oostema Blvd. on the south side) to Freight Drive. Turn left off Freight Drive and the parking area is on the left. The vehicle does not have to be attended. Live feeds should also be conducted from this location.

Check back here frequently for the most up-to-date information.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Local Media Contact:

Max Harnish, Federal Security Director
Phone 616-554-9041

Press releases are issued to describe changes in services, airport construction, notices to travelers, etc. A list of local newspapers and television and radio stations is used to send releases by email. Please advise the marketing and communications manager if you would like to be placed on our distribution list or if your email address or telephone number changes.

Internet Resources
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Press Releases
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Newsroom
Michigan Department of Transportation Aviation Link

RULES AND POLICIES
Inquiries
It is the policy of the Kent County Department of Aeronautics to cooperate with all media representatives and to make available timely, accurate and comprehensive information. The Department will make every effort to work within media deadlines. Remember that the Department of Aeronautics does not represent the airlines or any other tenant of the airport.

News Releases
News releases are issued to describe changes in services, airport construction, notices to travelers, etc. A list of local newspapers and television and radio stations is used to send releases by email. Please advise the marketing and communications manager if you would like to be placed on the distribution list or if your email address changes. New releases are also posted on the airport website.

News Conferences
When the Department of Aeronautics has a major announcement that will affect travelers or would like to make the public aware of an issue of importance at the airport, a news conference may be called. Advance media advisories will be issued to alert media organizations of the upcoming event, and news releases and other materials will be provided at the event.

Interviews
All requests for interviews with the Department of Aeronautics should be made in advance to the marketing and communications manager. If the marketing and communications manager is not available, please contact the airport Communications Center. If you are interested in filming a particular airline operation or other tenant operation or facility, you must contact the airline/tenant directly to obtain approval. Inquiries about individual airlines should be made to the particular airline public affairs office. Please note: Security restrictions are critical to airport safety and will take top priority in every instance.

Airport Jurisdictions
Certain airport operations fall under the jurisdiction of different agencies operating at the airport. The news media should go through the appropriate agency public affairs office for interviews and information. If you are unsure as to which agency has jurisdiction over a particular issue, facility, or incident, you may contact the marketing and communications manager for assistance.

Aircraft Operations/Air Traffic Control:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for air traffic control, airway navigation. FAA also has regulatory authority regarding certification and operation of the airport. Related inquiries should be directed to the FAA Great Lakes Region Public Affairs Office at 202-267-3333.

Airline/Aircraft Issues:
Individual airlines/aircraft operators are responsible for issues relating to that particular company, including labor issues, on-time performance, flight schedules, baggage issues, customer service performance, etc.

Airport Security:
The level of airport security is established by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). TSA is responsible for security screening of all passengers and all checked and carry-on luggage. TSA also has regulatory authority regarding airport and airline security. KCDA is responsible for law enforcement at the airport. Inquiries pertaining to passenger security should be directed to the TSA at 616-554-9041.

Airport Operations:
The Department of Aeronautics is responsible for daily operation of the airport. Media inquiries pertaining to terminal and airfield operations, air service development, parking, construction, etc., should be directed to the Marketing and Communications Manager.

Airport Access
Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s passenger terminal is a public facility operated by the Kent County Department of Aeronautics. News media may film or photograph publicly accessible areas without the permission of the Department of Aeronautics. As a courtesy, airport officials ask news organizations to notify the airport Communications Center at 616-233-6055 when a news crew/photographer is sent to film at the airport.

When filming at the airport, taking still photos, or conducting interviews, the news media are required to overtly display press identification. The news media may not leave equipment unattended or stage equipment or personnel in a manner that will block or restrict movement through major pathways, emergency escape routes or emergency exits. Likewise, no filming or conducting of interviews will be permitted to interfere with any airport or airline operations.

Please note: Security restrictions are critical to airport safety and will take top priority in every instance. Unauthorized access to a restricted area of the airport will result in arrest and denial of future access.

The observation deck at the airport provides a view of the airfield and aircraft gate positions. The deck is located in the passenger terminal main hall on the mezzanine level, above the entrance to Concourse A. There is also an outdoor public viewing area located immediately south of the airport on Kraft Avenue.

Leased Areas
The areas leased by the airlines and other tenants are under the control of those entities, and news media access must be approved by the appropriate tenant. These areas include, but are not limited to, ticket counters and associated queuing areas, shops, restaurants, and aircraft hangars and associated property.

Security Screening Areas
The security screening areas are operated by the Transportation Security Administration in space leased for that purpose. TSA policy prohibits filming or photography in the vicinity of these areas. Filming of the monitors that display items being screened and the wanding and pat down process is strictly prohibited. Filming or still photography is not permitted within 20 feet of any screening device at the airport.

Airfield
Airfield access is strictly controlled. Requests for filming in the aircraft movement areas will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Prior notification is essential to ensure adequate staffing exists to perform escort duties. Requests for access will be accommodated to the extent staffing and operational considerations permit. In the event of an emergency situation or other event that requires the full attention of the Department of Aeronautics staff, a prearranged escort may be cancelled, with or without notice.

Police Incidents
If a criminal investigation is under way, coordination of news media activity will be the responsibility of the Department of Aeronautics marketing and communications manager. The GFIA Police will control filming of crime scenes or other investigative events.

Parking and Live Feeds
News media personnel may park marked vehicles in the designated media and delivery vehicle parking area near gate 4 while on assignment at GFIA. If space is not available in this area, media personnel should park in the public parking facilities. (Please note that vehicles entering the parking garage may not exceed 8-feet 2-inches in height. Taller vehicles will need to opt for the North Lot or the Economy Parking Lot.)  Personal or unmarked vehicles must always be parked in the public parking facilities. Parking will not be validated for media personnel using the public parking facilities.

If prior permission has been obtained from an authorized airport representative for parking in locations other than those mentioned above, a dash placard - issued by the Airport Police Office - must be prominently displayed in the windshield and vehicles may not be left unattended in those locations without express permission from authorized airport personnel.

The Department of Aeronautics reserves the right to restrict news media activity at any location on airport premises if public security, safety, or operational concerns so warrant.

Emergencies
It is the policy of the Department of Aeronautics to cooperate with the news media to the greatest extent possible. Our primary responsibilities, however, are safe, secure, and orderly airport operations. When there is an emergency situation at Gerald R. Ford International Airport that is expected to generate extensive news media attention, the following procedures will serve as guidelines:

  • The Department of Aeronautics Public Affairs staff will report to the airport. During normal business hours, a Public Affairs staff member or designated airport representative will also be available to answer news media calls in the Department of Aeronautics administrative offices. Please note: The early hours of an emergency situation are spent responding to the emergency and calling in appropriate staff. If a situation is expected to require an escort for the news media to a site on the airfield, the news media will be advised to report to a media staging area. News media briefings may be scheduled in a designated briefing/coordination center. The anticipated location for these briefings is the International Room, located in the passenger terminal main hall behind the gift shop and next to the Airport Police office. Media should not expect access to an emergency scene during the first few hours (during initial process of saving lives).

  • Briefings may be conducted by the airport executive director, marketing and communications manager, or other designated Department of Aeronautics staff member as the situation warrants. If an aircraft accident is involved, the National Transportation Safety Board investigating team will take charge of the investigation and the release of information relative to that investigation. In circumstances where only property damage occurs, the FAA may conduct the investigation. If possible criminal or terrorist activity is involved, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will take charge of the investigation and the release of information relative to that investigation.

  • Only members of recognized news media organizations with appropriate visible identification will be permitted in news media briefing areas and on the Aircraft Operations Area (AOA) or transported to the scene of an emergency. The Incident Commander will determine whether news media will be escorted onto the AOA. At times, it may be necessary to pool media resources.

  • During an on-airport emergency, media aircraft/helicopter operators must request permission to enter the airport control area through the FAA Control Tower. Should any request be denied, the aircraft must remain outside the airport boundaries and at an altitude as directed by the FAA Control Tower. Med-evac helicopters will have highest priority.

  • Until the arrival of the Department of Aeronautics Public Affairs staff, questions regarding the emergency or access to the site will be handled by the Airport Operations duty manager or the Public Safety Fire or Police official in charge.

  • Based on the nature of the situation at hand, the official in charge will determine any restrictions on the movement of media personnel that may be necessary to allow a safe and orderly response.

  • Photographs and video may be taken from any area where access has been permitted; however, Public Safety and Airport Operations personnel may restrict the use of flash, strobes, and other lighting that might affect the response to the situation.

  • The media must not restrict the public's access to gates, ticket counters, baggage areas, or other areas in the terminal.

  • While the Department of Aeronautics recognizes the importance of interviewing passengers, the Department will work to protect the right to privacy for passengers and their families. If any individual does not wish to be interviewed or photographed, the Department of Aeronautics will support this decision. In addition, during an aircraft incident, access to passengers may be subject to approval by the involved airline or other authorized agencies.

  • Media representatives will not resist, obstruct, oppose, or interfere with any law enforcement officer in the lawful execution of his or her duties, and are not exempt from any federal, state, or local laws and, if arrested, will be treated in the same manner as any violator.

  • The Department of Aeronautics will make every effort to provide a working area for credentialed media.

  • During an emergency situation, the Department of Aeronautics Public Affairs staff will provide only the following information:
    • Date, time, and type of incident
    • Name of aircraft operator
    • Type of aircraft and flight number
    • Number of persons on board (if confirmed)
    • Runway affected
    • Impact on airport operations
    • Note: All other information must be obtained from the aircraft operator or the appropriate federal agency. Airport Public Affairs staff will provide only information that has been confirmed/released by the airline, NTSB, FAA, or TSA.

  • In a non-aircraft emergency situation, the marketing and communications manager will coordinate the release of information with the Public Safety officials or Airport Operations duty manager in charge of the emergency response. GFIA Police are in charge of investigating traffic accidents and criminal activities on airport property. Fire officials are responsible for fire and rescue and medical response operations.

Agencies Involved in Emergency Situations

Kent County Department of Aeronautics:
The KCDA maintains operational control of the airport during aircraft emergency situations (i.e., determines extent of runway/facility closures, operational restrictions, etc.).

National Transportation Safety Board:
The NTSB and the FAA are the federal agencies that investigate aircraft accidents. They also take custody of the aircraft and its contents from the time fire/rescue activities are concluded until a full investigation is completed, or a release is given. The Department of Aeronautics Public Affairs staff may assume a support role to the NTSB or the FAA at their request.

The NTSB also operates a Family Assistance program intended to assist family members of those involved in an aircraft incident. Family counseling, victim identification and forensic services, communicating with foreign governments, and translation services are among the services with which the federal government may help local authorities, the Red Cross and the airlines respond to a major aviation incident.

Federal Aviation Administration:
Various branches of the FAA have responsibilities in an aircraft emergency. The FAA operates the control tower at Gerald R. Ford International and would control air traffic during an emergency to permit rescue equipment to proceed to the accident site. Once the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower initiates an alert at the airport, the Airport Operations division assumes control of the airfield until the emergency has concluded.

Airline/Aircraft Operator:
The involved airline/aircraft operator is responsible for providing information regarding passengers aboard the aircraft and any detailed information about the flight, crew, and the aircraft.

GFIA Police Unit:
The GFIA Police unit is responsible for establishing and maintaining a security line at the incident site and ingress/egress points, and patrolling the airfield.

Kent County Department of Aeronautics Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Unit (ARFF):
The Department of Aeronautics ARFF unit is responsible for firefighting, rescue, and emergency medical response.

Federal Bureau of Investigation:
The FBI has jurisdiction if a hijacking or hostage-taking incident occurs aboard an aircraft that is still on the ground. If the aircraft is in flight, the TSA has jurisdiction.

Transportation Security Administration:
The FBI has jurisdiction in the event of an act of terrorism aboard an aircraft on the ground. If the aircraft is in flight, the TSA has jurisdiction.

Off-Airport Aviation Emergencies
In the event an aircraft accident occurs outside the airport boundaries, airport officials will assist and cooperate as much as possible. However, the municipality in charge will have jurisdiction over the accident area. In this case, the primary media contact is the aircraft owner and the information officer with jurisdiction over the accident area.

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CATEGORIES OF EMERGENCIES
Emergencies are classified into the following categories:

Alerts 1, 2, and 3

Alert 1:
Indicates a problem with a small aircraft. (Mutual aid response is not requested.)

Alert 2:
Indicates a problem with a large aircraft. (Mutual aid fire and limited medical/police response involved.)

Alert 3:
Indicates a large aircraft has crashed on or near the airport, or a crash is imminent. (Full mutual aid fire and medical/police response requested.)

Small Aircraft:
An aircraft capable of carrying no more than 9 (nine) passengers. (This includes most general aviation aircraft.)

Large Aircraft:
An aircraft capable of carrying 10 (ten) or more passengers. (This includes all commercial airline aircraft, air cargo jet aircraft, and large corporate jets.)

Gerald R. Ford International Airport has standard responses to each alert condition. These responses may include mutual aid support from the City of Grand Rapids and surrounding municipal fire, police, and medical units.

Questions regarding a specific aircraft emergency, including aircraft type, number of passengers, nature of emergency, and flight information must be made to the:

  • Specific airline for commercial aircraft
  • Aircraft Owner/Operator for general aviation aircraft
  • Military for military aircraft

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MEDIA FAQ

Q: The airport passenger terminal is a public facility. May the news media access the passenger terminal building, without notifying the Department of Aeronautics?

A: Yes. News media may film or photograph publicly accessible areas without the permission of the Department of Aeronautics. As a courtesy, airport officials ask news organizations to notify the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Communications Center at 616-233-6055 when a news crew/photographer is sent to film at the airport.

Q: Is it OK for media to park at the passenger terminal curb front when covering a story?

A: No. The federal security guidelines in force since 9/11 allow only for active loading and unloading by airport visitors, and only authorized government and security vehicles may be parked at the drop-off and pick-up curbs -- and those vehicles must remain in specially marked areas. Media may leave marked vehicles in the designated media and delivery vehicle parking area near gate 4 while on assignment at GFIA. Unmarked and/or personal vehicles must be parked in one of the airport's public parking facilities.  Parking will not be validated for media personnel using the public parking facilities.

Q: Will the Department of Aeronautics validate parking for media vehicles?

A: No. Parking fees for all media vehicles are the responsibility of the vehicle owner/operator.

Q: Is escort by an airport representative or other authorized personnel necessary when media visit the airport?

A: Sometimes. The need for an escort will depend on the area to be accessed. It is always best to call ahead so that arrangements for an escort may be made if staffing is available.

Q: May news media go beyond the TSA checkpoint and into the gate areas of the terminal to cover stories?

A: Media may go beyond the TSA checkpoint only if escorted by an employee of an airline, the TSA, or the Kent County Department of Aeronautics. Otherwise, only ticketed passengers may go beyond the checkpoint into the gate areas.

Q: Where should TV media go to set up live shots on airport premises?

A: The designated area for live shots is the designated media and delivery vehicle parking area near gate 4 while on assignment at GFIA. If there is a valid reason for media to request a different live shot location, that request will be considered. However, media should understand that a change in live shot location will be the rare exception rather than the rule. Also, safety and security of aircraft and passengers will always have the highest priority. If a TV station is seeking a special arrangement, such requests should be made at the earliest possible time.

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GLOSSARY OF TERMS

AOA - Aircraft Operations Area
ARFF - Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting
ATCT - Air Traffic Control Tower
DHS - Department of Homeland Security
DOT - Department of Transportation
FAA - Federal Aviation Administration
FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FBO - Fixed Base Operator
GFIA - Gerald R. Ford International Airport
GRR - Airport Identifier for Gerald R. Ford International Airport
KCDA - Kent County Department of Aeronautics
NTSB - National Transportation Safety Board
TSA - Transportation Security Administration

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