The National Academies

ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S03-15 [Active (Synthesis)]

How Airports Plan for Changing Aircraft Capacity-the Effects of Upgauging
[ ACRP 11-03 (Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 2/1/2017 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Thomas J. Helms
Research Agency: DY Consultants
Principal Investigator: Denis Verdier
Effective Date: 5/15/2017
Fiscal Year: 2017

Final Scope

“Upgauging” is an industry technique in which airlines increase capacity by adding seats on existing jets and replacing smaller planes with larger ones. One 2015 Wall Street Journal article reported that U.S. airlines are offering 12% more domestic seats on 4.4% fewer flights than two years ago. Upgauging requires that airports of all sizes make adjustments, with potential impacts felt on both landside and airside facilities and operations. This study will describe issues that airports need to attend to and accommodations made in maintaining flexibility to coordinate aircraft and passenger changes from airline upgauging. The principal investigator will review literature and conduct a survey of a representative sample of airports, as well as undertake selected interviews.

A concise report will be generated that summarizes the results of the literature review, survey and interview. The report will include current industry practices (successful and unsuccessful) for occupational data collection, analysis, and reporting, as well as present gaps in knowledge and suggested research. Topics to be explored include, but are not limited to:
• Three drivers of upgauging:
   o Change in airport mission (e.g., non-commercial service to commercial service)
   o Change in aircraft size
   o Difference between passengers and cargo operations
• Airlines
   o Fleet forecasts and trends (FAA, associations, manufacturers, etc.)
„X In consideration of airline network strategies
   o Relationship/communication with airline partners
   o Understanding of operational procedures and requirements for reliable access
„X Airfield configuration
• Airports
   o Issues with existing facilities
„X Resizing internal corridor space and passenger hold areas to handle the increased number of passengers disembarking from the larger planes.
„X Expanding concession areas to serve the additional travelers and to help defray the costs of renovations.
„X Issues and strains on facilities, parking garages, and terminal non-secure areas.
„X Reconfiguring terminals at smaller airports designed for slim regional jets to accommodate airlines’ new fleets.
„X How use of adjacent gates not in their lease affects the airport, including gate rental a higher ad hoc rates.
„X Apron/ramp restriping.
„X When aircraft arrive early with no gate where does the airport operator queue planes awaiting gate space?
„X Use of “balanced facility requirements” at some larger or more sophisticated airports
   o Lease structures
„X Flexibility and leasing are key. Design for flexibility and write good use and lease agreements for adaptation.
   o Capital Investment/construction plans
„X New jet bridges that can accommodate larger planes and connect them to terminals.
„X What are new terminal plans?
   o Passenger journey from ticket purchase through flight departure
   o Flow of cargo through facility from arrival at airport to flight departure
   o Airfield Equipment Staging
„X Shared use equipment.
   o Provision of Fuel Service
   o Use of temporary facilities
„X Passenger processing
„X Cargo processing
   o Environmental Considerations
„X Noise
   o Loss of service
• Applicable Regulations
   o Impact on Part 139 operations
„X Airfield equipage
   o Part 150 studies or other noise programs
   o TSA 1542
   o Provision of Air Traffic Services
• Community Relations
   o Noise mitigation
   o Economic impact
• Costs, Revenues, and Benefits
   o Over commitment to capital and operational expense
„X Facility development
„X Staffing
   o Abatement of revenue for new service
   o Benefits associated with investments
The report will include information obtained from at least 10 airports that are representative of non-hub airports, small, medium, and large hub airports. In addition, the report will include input from at least 3 State Aeronautics Offices.
Partial Information Sources
• ACRP Research Reports and Syntheses
   o ACRP Report 18 Passenger Air Service Development Techniques
   o ACRP Report 25 Airport Passenger Terminal Planning and Design
   o ACRP Report 96 Airport Planning and Design Guidebook
   o ACRP Report 98 Understanding Airline Passenger Choice in Multi-Airport Regions
   o ACRP Report 156 Managing Compliance with Federal Regulations: An Integrated Approach
   o ACRP Synthesis Report 68 Strategies for Maintaining Air Service
• Transportation Research International Documentation (TRID)
• Transportation Research Record
• Pertinent FAA Advisory Circulars
• FAA Pavement Capacity Guidance 

Topic Panel 
Joshua D. Abramson, Easterwood Airport Management
Sheldon Daisley, City of Phoenix
Alex M. Kashani, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Frank Ketcham, University of California, Berkeley
Dongwook Lim, Georgia Institute of Technology
Charles T. "Skip" Miller, Louisville Regional Airport Authority
Kent Duffy, Federal Aviation Administration
Christopher J. Oswald, Airports Council International - North America
Christine Gerencher, Transportation Research Board 

Thomas Helms
email: thelms@nas.edu
phone: 703/835-9191

First meeting: April 25, 2017, Washington, DC 
Teleconference: May 15, 2017 
Second meeting: November 28, 2017, Washington, DC 

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