The National Academies

ACRP 03-03 [Completed]

Enhancing Airport Land Use Compatibility

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: Mead & Hunt, Inc. of Lansing, MI
Principal Investigator: Stephanie Ward
Effective Date: 12/28/2006
Completion Date: 12/27/2008
Comments: Results published as ACRP Report 27: Volumes 1 and 2.

Encroachment of incompatible land uses around airports, particularly in the critical approach/departure paths, is a significant national problem. Incompatible uses, which often occur on land not under the direct control of the airport owner, include uses that impair the safe and efficient operation of aircraft and airports, and subject residents and others to excessive noise impacts and/or safety risks. Without appropriate guidance, neighboring jurisdictions may permit such conflicting uses regardless of the best efforts of airport owners and public officials to ensure that land uses are compatible with airport operations, in terms of operational efficiency, safety, and noise exposure.

States and local governments need a common basis for establishing zoning regulations that protect the public interest and investment in airports. Several states, including California, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, have legislation and programs in place to protect airports from incompatible land uses. Austin and Denver are examples of cities where major airports were relocated at great expense due, in part, to the encroachment of incompatible land uses. Other airports are unable to add runways for needed capacity because they are boxed in by urban development. Closing and replacing airports will continue to be a high-cost option to address problems associated with incompatible land uses near airports.

Continued development of incompatible uses threatens the efficient operations, potential expansion, and, in some cases, the very existence of airports. The fact that such concerns are being raised nationwide indicates a need for a national discussion of the problem and a review of laws, policies, regulations, and practices pertaining to land uses around airports. Guidance is needed to protect airports from incompatible land uses that impair current and future airport and aircraft operations and safety.

The objective of this research is to develop guidance to protect airports from incompatible land uses that impair current and future airport and aircraft operations and safety and constrain airport development. This research project does not address land uses within airport boundaries. For the purposes of this research, incompatible land uses are defined by criteria pertaining to aircraft noise exposure and to safety concerns including aircraft accidents; FAR Part 77 and TERPS height restrictions; FAA engine-out regulations; FAA airport design standards; wildlife attractants; and distractions such as smoke, lighting, glare, and electronic interference.

Status:  Report 27 is published in 2 volumes and available on the web.

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