The National Academies

ACRP 03-10 [Final]

Innovative Approaches to Addressing Aviation Capacity Issues in Coastal Mega-Regions

  Project Data
Funds: $299,998
Research Agency: Resource Systems Group,Inc.
Principal Investigator: Matthew A. Coogan
Effective Date: 2/5/2008
Completion Date: 9/30/2009

Most areas of the United States have plans and capabilities to meet projected aviation demand.  However, this is not the case in the two mega-regions located along the east and west coasts, namely, the northeast corridor travel shed on the east coast and the California-Arizona-Nevada travel shed on the west coast.  A recently released Federal Aviation Administration study, Capacity Needs in the National Airspace System 2007-2025 (commonly referred to as FACT-2) indicates metropolitan areas and regions along the east and west coasts are experiencing large amounts of growth in population and economic activity that demonstrate chronic congestion problems in the air and on the ground.  Based on the FACT-2 information, conditions in these two coastal mega-regions are projected to get worse in the future.  Traditional approaches are unlikely to address these problems that extend beyond current jurisdictional and legislative authorities of existing agencies.


Current airport planning is done at three levels: (1) airport specific (master planning); (2) regional area (normally the geographic area corresponding to a metropolitan planning organization’s jurisdiction); and (3) statewide system.  Those focused plans are not sufficient to address capacity limitations when considering “mega-regions” of airports along the east and west coasts.   For example, the effects that the traffic from major airports within each of these coastal mega-regions have on each other need to be better understood. 


New and innovative processes/methodologies are needed if the aviation capacity issues in these congested coastal mega-regions are going to be successfully addressed.  These high-density areas invite an entirely new approach for planning and decision making that goes beyond the existing practice for transportation planning and programming that is usually accomplished within single travel modes and political jurisdictions or regions.  Optimizing available resources for the expansion of transportation infrastructure to accommodate anticipated growth should be a key consideration.


The objective of this research is to develop integrated strategic actions to enhance decision making to address the constrained aviation system capacity and growing travel demand in the high-density, multijurisdictional, multimodal, coastal mega-regions along the east and west coasts.  The research is intended to be used by transportation agencies and operators, as well as for informing public officials at the federal, state, and local levels.


Status:   ACRP Report 31 has been published.    

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