The National Academies

ACRP 06-07 [Pending]

Enhancing Academic Programs to Prepare Future Airport Industry Professionals

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Contract Time: 15 months
Staff Responsibility: Theresia H. Schatz


Airports and their support industries have changed significantly over the past several decades. Academic programs must continue to evolve with these changes to better prepare the next generation of airport industry professionals. Emphasis should be placed on an enhanced, comprehensive approach to careers in the airport industry to include topic areas such as finance and administration, planning and engineering, operations and facilities, technology, law, humanities and social sciences, etc.

As a means to prepare students for career tracks in the airport industry, research is needed to better understand the skills needed and develop model academic curriculum templates to provide a foundation for career success. This research seeks to bridge the gaps that may exist.


The objective of this research is to develop guidance to assist academia in preparing graduates for careers as airport industry professionals. The guidance should identify and consider the current and future skills needed for airport industry professionals and how current and future educational programs align with those skills.

The guidance should consider the various roles of the airport industry professional at a variety of types and sizes of airports and contain at a minimum:
  • A description of current and future core competencies needed for various level of positions and roles;
  • A list of gaps in existing aviation educational programs and an overview of other non-aviation-specific educational programs as they relate to current and future workforce needs;
  • Program structure and content that would foster an individual to be adaptive with an eye toward future trends and life-long learning;
  • Methods for highlighting the broad range of career opportunities and how to engage students for careers in the airport industry; and
  • The role and impact of academic accreditation on various airport-related aviation programs.

The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.

The research plan should include appropriate interim deliverables, for ACRP approval, that include at a minimum:

1. An overview of structure and content of existing aviation academic programs that include an airport-related curriculum, as well as other non-aviation academic programs that would have relevance in the development of the airport industry professional;

2. Case studies that identify cooperative education and collaborative opportunities to broaden exposure to the airport industry;

3. A method to identify existing and anticipated gaps in applicant preparedness and prerequisites for a variety of positions, including support roles, at different sizes and types of airports; and

4. An interim report that describes work done in early tasks with an updated work plan for remaining tasks and a detailed outline and draft introductory chapter of the guidance document.

The research plan should include other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including, at a minimum, (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables as deemed appropriate. 
The final deliverables will include (1) a guidance document that meets the research objective and includes model course curriculums that identify and consider the current and future skills needed for various career tracks within the airport industry; (2) a presentation to be used to communicate educational requirements for career tracks and opportunities within the airport industry; and (3) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” (See Special Note G.).

Note:  Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, there should be 3 months for ACRP review and comments and for contractor preparation of the final deliverables.   For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that ACRP will provide access to web-enabled teleconference services.  ACRP will pay panel members’ travel costs for the face-to-face meeting. Proposers should assume that the meeting will be held in Washington, DC.

A. ACRP publications and other relevant industry-related resources should be consulted when conducting this research. It is expected that portions of these publications and/or resources will be discussed or linked into the final publication as appropriate, including but not limited to:
  • ACRP Project 01-34, “Developing Innovative Strategies for Aviation Education and Participation;”
  • ACRP Research Report 186: Guidebook on Building Airport Workforce Capacity; 
  • ACRP Synthesis 8: Aviation Workforce Development Practices;
  • ACRP Synthesis 49: Helping New Maintenance Hires Adapt to the Airport Operating Environment;
  • ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic 06-05,”Promoting Aviation Career Education in High Schools and Community Colleges”
STATUS: a contractor selection meeting will take place on March 5

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