Virginia’s Burnette Receives NASAO Distinguished Service Award

Cliff Burnette
Cliff Burnette

Cliff Burnette, Director of the Airport Services Division of the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV), has received the NASAO State Aviation Distinguished Service Award.  It was presented at the 2018 National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) Annual Convention held September 23-25, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Cliff Burnette is in his 41st year as an employee of the Virginia Department of Aviation and has amassed a track record few in government service can emulate.  In February of 1978, while still a student majoring in Urban Studies and Planning at Virginia Commonwealth University, Cliff began work as an Airport Planner at DOAV.  Three years later, he was promoted to Air Service Development Officer, and he enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Master of Public Administration Program, earning his MPA in 1985.  In 1986, he was promoted again to the position of Manager of the Planning and Environmental Section – a position he held until 2004.

For the last 14 years, Cliff has been the Director of the Airport Services Division (ASD).  As the leader of the ASD he provides engineering, environmental and planning services, airport security guidance and operational support to Virginia’s 66 public use airports.  He is also the principal advisor to the agency director and to the Virginia Aviation Board and is responsible for the integration of the Virginia air transportation system into the national air transportation system, promotion of progressive environmental initiatives, support of economic development opportunities and implementation of airport sustainability programs that achieve financial savings through operational efficiency.

Since Fiscal Year 2003, and under Cliff’s direction, 7.202 projects and grants worth more than $370 million were undertaken and awarded, respectively, by the Airport Services Division to enhance and secure Virginia’s public – use airports.  This massive amount of airport improvement work has not gone unnoticed.  General aviation pilots across the nation have consistently rated Virginia’s airports as some of the best in the USA.

A strategic thinker, Cliff created the Virginia Continuous Airport System Planning Process (VCASP) which has provided invaluable information and direction to state and local leaders developing Virginia’s airports.  The extensive VCASP plans and studies Cliff has initiated and directed include: The Virginia Air Transportation System Plan, the Virginia Pavement Management Study, The Virginia Airports Sustainability Management Plan, the Virginia Commercial Airport System Study, and the Virginia Air Cargo Plan.  He is also credited with the planning and environmental work required to build the Lee County Airport, the Tazewell County Airport and the Stafford County Airport as well as the planning, environmental, financial programming and construction of the original Essex County Airport and the development of the new Essex County Airport.