The Border Coast Regional Airport Authority received the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2017 Airport Safety Award, beating seven other facilities including Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, the San Diego International Airport and the Los Angeles International Airport.

The award recognized work done by BCRAA staff to attract a new air carrier, clear obstructions in environmentally sensitive areas and complete the Runway Safety Area project, according to a BCRAA press release. It also recognized the airport upgrading its Part 139 airport classification, an FAA requirement for commercial airports, said Airport Authority Director Matthew Leitner.

“(The FAA) has four classes of 139 regulations and in Crescent City before Pen Air the airport was a class 3 because SkyWest flew 30-seat airplanes,” Leitner said. “Now if you have an airplane that has 31 or more passenger seats you have to upgrade to a class 1 139. That’s all the major airports, SFO, LAX, Las Vegas, whatever.”

The airport’s Part 139 upgrade entailed manual and operational revisions plus a special inspection, Leitner said. This was necessary because PenAir flies 34-seat airplanes, although they are configured for 30 seats.

Leitner added that the Airport Authority making this upgrade was one of the reasons it was nominated along with larger players like LAX and San Diego.

“We’re the little airport that can; I think we’re defying the odds,” Leitner said. “This award belongs to our community and our region. It belongs to all the people that comprise our airport and make it happen day to day and got us through this process.”

Other nominees included the Long Beach Airport, Santa Maria Field, San Jose International and the Clark County, Nevada Airports, which operates McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

“When that screen came up with the listing of the airports that had been nominated my mouth just dropped open,” said Susan Daugherty, BCRAA’s airport program manager. “We had no idea that those other airports were nominated.”

Brian Armstrong, manager of the FAA Western-Pacific Region’s safety and standards branch, presented the award to BCRAA staff Tuesday at the Western-Pacific Region’s conference in Anaheim.

The airport authority was nominated for the award by Steve Oetzell, the FAA Western-Pacific Region’s lead airport safety inspector.