Meeting customer core needs during irregular operations (IROPS) is a critical problem for airports, airlines, agencies, and other aviation service providers. While regulatory policies and industry practices continue to evolve, IROPS challenge the resiliency of the global aviation system and negatively impact customer core needs. IROPS can result from random phenomenon and planned activities from either natural causes such as weather (e.g., thunderstorms, snow storms, fog, and hurricanes) or other operational factors (e.g., air traffic directives such as ground delay programs, airport maintenance or construction activities, and security threats or alerts). While operational contingency planning to support IROPS is occurring under ACRP Project 10-10 (Report 65: Guidebook for Airport IROPS Contingency Planning), managing IROPS needs to be integrated with mid- and long-term planning and business decision making. Current planning and investment evaluation processes do not adequately capture the costs incurred as a result of planning for such affected operations. Current practice in these areas rely principally on either generally accepted design practices handed down over time (e.g., use of peak month average day design standards) or more formalized cost benefit or investment analyses designed around normal operating conditions. These practices are no longer a sufficient guide in valuing, designing, and investing in the future aviation infrastructure. In addition, investments being made in support of NextGen that positively impact operations must dovetail with planning and investment decisions related to IROPS. Thus, an enhanced strategy is needed that supports a more proactive business planning approach for managing IROPS.
The objective of this research was to develop a reference document that provides a decision-making process for airport management to use in justifying airport planning and funding decisions (capital and O&M) related to supporting IROPS contingency planning. This reference document and decision-making process includes the principal stakeholders involved: airports, airlines, and agencies (e.g., FAA, CBP, TSA, state and local) and considers differences in airport characteristics (e.g., geographic location, use and lease agreements). Other factors include public policies related to security, safety, hazardous substance or environmental factors, and consumer protection as potential constraining and/or supporting resources. The research includes guidance for the development of risk assessments and an approach to quantify long-term financial effects associated with IROPS.