The National Academies

ACRP 03-32 [Final]

Guidance for Preparing and Using Airport Design Day Flight Schedules

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Research Agency: HNTB
Principal Investigator: Patrick Kennon
Effective Date: 7/17/2014
Completion Date: 6/17/2016


Design day flight schedules are used for a number of purposes, including the planning and programming of airport operations and facilities; airfield, airspace, and landside modeling; evaluating terminal passenger flow; construction phasing; and staffing requirements. These schedules must align with plan year annual, design day, and design hour forecasts and account for some level of uncertainty in future scenarios. The required inputs for developing these design day flight schedules must coordinate planning strategies, forecasting methods, and risk analysis to estimate potential variations in costs and benefits linked to implementing alternative strategies. Given how these schedules can influence the outcome of analytic studies (particularly discrete event digital simulation models), it is imperative that they be done well and that the many assumptions used be well understood by those relying on the analysis to make investment decisions. Yet there are currently no consistent methods within the industry for developing and using design day flight schedules. Research is needed to develop a guidebook to assist aviation practitioners in the preparation and use of design day flight schedules.

The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook to assist aviation practitioners in the preparation and use of airport design day flight schedules for operations, planning, and development.

The guidebook will address and/or include:
  • Determining how design day flight schedules should be used (e.g., day-to-day airport operations and use, construction phasing, long-term facility planning and programming, and financial planning);
  • A synthesis of how design day flight schedules are currently used (e.g., modeling, determining facility requirements, resource allocation) and a critique of current methods for developing design day flight schedules;
  • Guidance for selecting an appropriate method based on potential uses, unique airport characteristics, resource availability;
  • Step-by-step guidance for using each method;
  • Identification of assumptions, inputs, and data sources (e.g., annual activity forecasts, airport constraints, existing flight schedules, passenger surveys, regional considerations, industry trends);
  • Accounting for uncertainty (e.g., forecast uncertainty, policy changes, airline service changes, technology advancements, passenger characteristics);
  • Guidance for airport design day schedule output content and format to meet various user requirements;
  • Steps to ensure defensibility (e.g., documentation of how assumptions are developed and incorporated, quality control, reasonableness); and
  • Processes for maintaining and updating design day schedules.

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