Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Board members had high hopes for Jeff Fegan in 1994, when they picked him to be acting director and then a month later gave him the permanent job.He didn't disappoint them. Nineteen years later, almost to the day, Fegan told the board members Thursday he would retire as the airport's chief executive in September. They gave him a standing ovation for his work.Fegan, 58, has guided the 17,000-acre airport, possibly the greatest economic engine North Texas has ever seen, through some tough times. None were tougher than the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the following turmoil in the aviation industry. In the immediate aftermath, security at all airports was radically enhanced, and DFW stayed at the forefront of that change.On 9-11, DFW was in the midst of a massive construction program that included a new international doorway, Terminal D, and the new SkyLink people-mover system. There were calls to put those projects on hold, but Fegan and his administrative team said DFW would still need them to compete with other airports once airlines found their new normal.Terminal D opened in 2005, and several new foreign carriers have begun flying to DFW. The international destinations served by the airport now number 50, double the figure when Fegan got the top job.Annual revenues have risen to $650 million. They were $212 million when Fegan took over.Fegan will leave DFW in the midst of another massive construction effort, the $2.3 billion update of its four original terminals -- A, B, C and E -- built in 1974.The first of those renovations, in Terminal A, are expected to open next month.Board Chairman Robert Hsueh and a search committee of board members are expected to hire a consultant to help identify candidates to replace Fegan. Don't be surprised if the eventual replacement is someone who already is working at DFW.Fegan, who was hired in 1984 as the airport's chief planner, had worked his way up to the post of deputy executive director for finance and administration when Vernell Sturns announced his resignation from the top job in January 1994. The board immediately picked Fegan to be the acting director and wasted little time in making that decision permanent.Sturns himself was a six-year DFW veteran when he advanced to the helm in 1991.Fegan's leadership team is a strong one. Five executive vice presidents report to him: Chris Poinsatte, chief financial officer; Jim Crites, operations chief; Ken Buchanan, in charge of revenue management; Linda Valdez Thompson, head of administration and diversity; and Phil Ritter, governmental and stakeholder affairs.Joe Lopano, who was DFW's executive vice president for marketing a year ago when he left to become CEO at Tampa's airport, shouldn't be ruled out.Nor should the possibility of hiring an outsider, although the temptation to hire someone who is already intimately familiar with DFW and its administration will be strong.The next few years will be challenging as the airport continues with its terminal renovation program; advances planning for commercial development on hundreds of acres of its property that won't be used for air operations or support; and faces the 2014 end of Wright Amendment flight restrictions at Dallas Love Field.By September, the best thing DFW board members can do is find a new leader much like Fegan.