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United Airlines passengers wait in line to check in for a flight to Chicago at the Quad-City International Airport in Moline in October. Thirty-seven people applied to become the airport's next director, officials said.

The search for a new Quad-City International Airport aviation director has attracted "a solid applicant pool" of candidates including 16 current airport directors and an international candidate, a consultant said Wednesday.

Linda Frankl, senior vice president and chief operating officer for ADK Consulting & Executive Search, told airport officials the search has yielded 37 applications. Of those, 13 candidates hold the American Association of Airport Executives, or AAAE certification, or another certification.

"It's a strong candidate pool in numbers. It's a strong candidate pool in certifications," she said in a teleconference with the Rock Island County Metropolitan Airport Authority's internal affairs committee.

Aviation Director Bruce Carter announced three months ago that he will retire July 1.

According to Frankl, the most candidates are from the Great Lakes Region (13), including several candidates from Illinois and Iowa. The ADK team will narrow the pool "to a short list" before three to five finalists are presented to the airport for consideration.

In addition to ADK, the airport's consultant Trillion Aviation is conducting a needs assessment as part of the search process.

Steve Wareham, Trillion's senior vice president, arrived Wednesday to begin meeting with the airport's leadership and employee groups to discuss the type of leader they are looking for.

"Bruce (Carter) has 19 years here and that's extraordinary," he said, adding they will have to replace the "depth of industry knowledge and influence" Carter developed. 

Wareham credited the airport authority's commitment to take a deeper look into the organization. The feedback will be factored into the candidate interviews, but also can benefit a new director coming in.

He said 37 candidates is a strong response especially in an "industry, that like many others, has been affected by the gray tsunami of Baby Boomers." Estimates show nearly one-third of the current airport directors could be eligible to retire within the next several years.