The National Academies

ACRP 10-04 [Final]

Airports and the Newest Generation of General Aviation Aircraft

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: GRA Incorporated
Principal Investigator: William Spitz
Effective Date: 11/1/2007
Completion Date: 5/31/2009

Some forecasts predict that an increasing number of new, smaller general aviation (GA) aircraft will take to the skies in the near future. These forecasts suggest that some airports will see an increase in traffic and greater demand for GA infrastructure, facilities, and services. It is unclear whether the traffic increase will be caused by the smaller, faster, less expensive new “micro jets” or “very light jets” (VLJs) or by new business models for operating air taxis with these smaller aircraft.
However, according to some aviation industry experts, many of these forecasts appear over-optimistic. Airport operators are concerned that the forecasts do not adequately address airport considerations. The fundamental questions for airports are, how much will traffic increase from these aircraft; which airports will experience the traffic increase; and what infrastructure, facilities, and services will be needed.
If there is a large increase in aircraft activity as a result of these new aircraft, already busy GA airports will be further congested, and the smallest GA airports may not be prepared to handle this potential increase in activity.  Consequently, airports need to know what level of aircraft activity they can expect and what infrastructure, facilities, and services are needed to accommodate the newest generation of GA aircraft adequately. They need information on the likelihood of GA aircraft activity increases at airports by category of airport and geographical location. Moreover, no single resource document summarizes what can and should be done to prepare airport infrastructure, facilities, and services to accommodate the increased activity while maintaining productivity.
The objectives of this project are to (1) forecast GA aircraft activity by category of airport and geographical location due to the introduction of the newest generation of GA aircraft and (2) develop a user-friendly guidebook that will help airport operators to (a) estimate the level of activity from these aircraft at their particular airport; (b) assess the impact of these aircraft on their particular airport’s infrastructure, facilities, and services; (c) accommodate existing and anticipated demand for facilities and services from these aircraft; and (d) attract new business from the newest generation of GA aircraft.
For the purposes of this project, the newest generation of GA aircraft refers to small-sized (12,500 lbs or less) aircraft with high-technology “all glass” digital cockpits, including VLJs; micro jets; and the newest piston and turbo-prop aircraft.
Status:  Publication completed: ACRP Report 17: Airports and The Newest Generation of General Aviation Aircraft; Volume 1: Forecast; Volume 2: Guidebook

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