The traditional process to evaluate obstructions is complex and does not necessarily capture the cumulative effect of objects on an airport’s operational airspace. This evaluation is conventionally accomplished through the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 77 that starts with the filing of a FAA Form 7460-1. While Part 77 provides a straightforward means of identifying obstructions, there are other objects that could affect the airport's operations but would not be obstructions since they do not penetrate any of the imaginary surfaces prescribed in Part 77. For example, the controlling obstacle for an instrument procedure or penetrations to the air carrier one engine inoperative requirement may not be obstructions under Part 77 criteria. The emergence of new navigational technologies and their associated procedures have further exacerbated this situation.
In an attempt to address this situation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering developing new composite surfaces that incorporate multiple existing criteria including that contained in Part 77 and Terminal Instrument Procedures (TERPS). However, this effort is just starting.
In the interim, planners and airport sponsors need to better understand the effects of current and proposed objects on the airport environment. There are a myriad of federal regulations, requirements, and processes that are used to identify and assess the impacts on an airport’s operations of proposed objects. Research is needed to provide guidance to airport managers and other stakeholders on applicable criteria and interrelationships between these criteria in order to help them identify and minimize the effects of development decisions that may adversely impact on airport operations.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook that defines and explains the various criteria used to identify objects that affect the airspace needed by an airport for its current and future operations, as well as the interrelationships between these criteria. The guidebook is intended to be used by airport operators, consultants, and surrounding communities in understanding the airport’s current and future airspace needs and how objects individually and collectively can affect the safety, utility, and efficiency of their airport.