The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is beginning the second phase of its general aviation (GA) study issued last spring, General Aviation Airports: A National Asset, to further define the role of GA airports. In the original study, the FAA captured the critical and diverse roles of the nation’s 2,952 general aviation airports, which resulted in four new categories — national, regional, local, and basic. However, while completing the study, the FAA learned that more than 497 airports did not clearly fit into any of the categories. Therefore, the agency committed to resume its work with airport sponsors, state aeronautic divisions, and industry to gather additional information on these airports.
The categories are a tool to help the FAA and state aeronautical agencies make more consistent planning decisions for the nation’s GA airports. They reflect the current aviation activity at GA airports, such as the number and type of based aircraft, the number of passenger boardings, and the type of flights. Airports in the national category 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. Finally, basic airports link communities with the national airport system and support general aviation activities.
State aviation officials have played a valuable role in the first phase and will continue to provide needed insight during the second phase. The next step will be a pilot program with the states of Alabama and Wisconsin which will work in conjunction with their respective FAA ADO managers to reach out to the unclassified airports within their borders. According to the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), they are armed with a list of questions designed to gather data for the core working group. That part of the task will continue through the beginning of March.
The first study revealed the many functions the majority of GA airports provide, such as medical, search and rescue, disaster relief, aerial firefighting, law enforcement, remote community access, commercial and industrial activity, flight instruction, and air cargo. Now, the FAA working with our state partners, the individual airport, and the GA community to better define an appropriate category for them. The FAA anticipates issuing an addendum to the study in December with this new information.
To access the study click here: http://www.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/ga_study/media/2012AssetReportAppB.pdf