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The National Academies

ACRP 03-11 [Final]

A Guidebook for the Preservation of Public-Use Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $447,430
Research Agency: L. Robert Kimball & Associates
Principal Investigator: Thomas Thatcher
Effective Date: 6/23/2008
Completion Date: 1/15/2011

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are approximately 5200 public-use airports in the United States. Many of these public-use airports, particularly those that are privately-owned, are in danger of closure, typically to make land available for alternative uses such as residential or commercial development. This situation is especially true in the fringes around urban centers and other populated areas. This area is also where air access is needed the most. Once an airport is lost in these areas, the chances to rebuild a replacement airport are almost nonexistent. With very light jets now entering the marketplace, the need to preserve non-congested landing areas close to final destinations is even more critical.

Usually the public-use airports that close are privately owned facilities. However, publicly owned airports can also be vulnerable. At the local level, there is often a lack of understanding of the value of the airport to the community. In some cases, the airport is considered a strain on community resources.

The actual closure of an airport is usually the last step in a chain of events that occurs over several years. One of the keys to airport preservation is to take action early in the process when numerous options are still available. Parties (including state and local governments) seeking to preserve public-use airports have difficulty obtaining information about the options that are available to preserve the airport and to increase its economic viability. A guidebook would be helpful to provide current information on how to recognize and identify threats to help in preventing closures. 

The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook that describes the reasons why public-use airports close and identifies measures and strategies that can be taken to preserve public-use airports. An interactive tool will accompany the guidebook that allows a user to access information on specific circumstances pertaining to closures, preventive measures and strategies, and roles and responsibilities of parties that have a role in preventing the closure. This guidebook is intended to be used by state and local agencies, airport owners/operators, and advocacy groups in preserving public-use airports.

Status:  The final report has been completed and is available through the following link:  http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/165624.aspx

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