by: Auzinea Bacon

On Sept. 6, the College Park City Council discussed a new commuter program run by Tailwind Air, a veteran-owned company founded in 2012. Tailwind is in talks with the city to launch their newest venture  out of the College Park Airport.

College Park Airport Manager Lee Sommer informed the council that Tailwind would be postponing their work on the program until late October while the TSA and Federal Aviation Administration review operating regulations. 

David Dorsch, chair of the College Park Airport Authority, said that the program would have four daily flights, two incoming and two outgoing, between College Park and New York City’s Skyport Marina. 

Dorsch said that the planes, which are seaplanes capable of runway landings, would carry up to eight passengers per flight. Depending on the program’s popularity, Dorsch said, they may consider scheduling additional service.

Councilmembers expressed concerns with the airport authority chair about increased noise from new air traffic.

“The noise is generally the helicopters and the ones that are the worst are the military, because they’re the biggest and heaviest,” Dorsch noted, adding that the planes in Tailwind’s fleet are quieter than those aircraft. 

Dorsch said that Tailwind Air is also establishing commuter programs in other cities, including Boston, Plymouth and Provincetown, all Massachusetts destinations that offer water landing. He said that College Park would be the only participating airport in Maryland.

To establish a line with Tailwind Air, the College Park Airport would need to change its operating regulations, which were last revised in 2018, according to Dorsch. The current regulations place limitations on charter operators that would have to be revised to allow Tailwind to maintain their proposed flight schedules.

When asked about security measures for the program, Dorsch said Tailwind requires customers to submit their name to ensure that they’re not on the Department of Homeland Security’s No Fly list. 

The airport, which is owned and operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, agrees that the regulations need to be permanently changed and has asked  the city council for approval of the proposed changes. The council was due to revisit this issue during their Sept. 13 worksession, which occurred after press time.