General aviation airport operators typically have minimal staff conducting a variety of different tasks and don’t have the time to be an expert in any one area. This can be most challenging in the area of environmental compliance, specifically with respect to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A NEPA review can occur for any number of activities at the airport, and yet understanding NEPA can be very difficult; it’s not always clear as to what steps need to be taken. Educating the general aviation airport operator with the terminology, triggers for a NEPA review, the process, and possible outcomes can help the airport operator integrate NEPA into its planning process to ensure that its project isn’t unnecessarily delayed. There are some projects and circumstances when the airport operator will be able to work through the process without the assistance of subject matter experts, and there are other times when due to the complexity of the situation, an expert will need to be consulted. While there is guidance for larger airports there is no specific guidance to help general aviation airport operators navigate through the NEPA process.
The objective of this research is to develop an interactive CD-ROM based tool for general aviation airports to evaluate the steps needed in the environmental review process. The interactive tool should educate users on NEPA, and provide a step-by-step guide to evaluate the appropriate environmental analysis for a specific airport project. At a minimum, it should also include the following:
- Discussion of NEPA, when it applies, and its integration in the planning process;
- Steps needed for each level of NEPA review and which ones can be best executed by the airport operator;
- Specific airport project examples from each level of NEPA review representing all FAA regions;
- When to consult an expert, what to expect, and how long it may take;
- Sample scopes of work and expected labor hours required based on the circumstances;
- Additional resources; and
- Lessons learned and how issues can be overcome.
STATUS: The research team is working on the guidance and tool.