The FAA has released a study called “General Aviation Airports: A National Asset.” The 18-month study was conducted “to capture the many diverse functions of general aviation (GA) airports,” FAA officials said, in the hopes that the “general public will have a better understanding of GA airports in the community and within the national air transportation system.”
“This in-depth analysis highlights the pivotal role GA airports play in our society, economy, and the entire aviation system,” officials said in a prepared statement, noting that “the FAA has conducted previous commercial service airport studies, and now has analyzed both aviation segments with the completion of this GA study.”
Information gathered in the study will help the FAA, state aeronautical agencies, and airport sponsors make planning decisions, officials added. In compiling the study, the FAA worked with state aeronautical agencies, aviation associations, aviation user groups, airport directors, airport authorities, airport planners, academia, other federal agencies, and local councils of government.
The study aligns the nation’s 2,455 GA airports based on their existing activity levels — national, regional, local, and basic.
The categories reflect the current activity at the airport, such as the number and type of based aircraft, number of passenger boardings, and the type of flights.
- National airports give communities access to national and international markets
- Regional airports connect communities to statewide and interstate markets
- Local airports provide access to intrastate and interstate markets
- Basic airports link communities with the national airport system and support general aviation activities
The FAA plans to further study some GA airports to better understand their role. The FAA will begin working in the fall of 2012 with airport sponsors and state aeronautic divisions to identify the activities these 497 airports support, and how they serve the public interest.
The study does not affect an airport sponsors’ eligibility to receive federal funding, and does not remove any airports from the federal five-year planning document called the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, FAA officials note.
The FAA will incorporate findings of the study into existing GA airport guidance. The United States has the largest and most diverse network of airports in the world and general aviation is a critical component. GA airports do more than relieve congestion at other airports, and in 2009 contributed $38.8 billion to the economy.
The 34-page report can be downloaded here. Once we get a chance to comb through it, we’ll present some of the details in a later post.
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