The National Academies

ACRP 03-54 [Final]

Small Aircraft Runway Length Analysis Tool

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Virginia Tech
Principal Investigator: Antonio Trani
Effective Date: 6/12/2020
Completion Date: 1/31/2022

One of the most important operational characteristics of an airport is the length of its longest runway, as this is a key factor in determining the types of aircraft that can use the airport and whether or not these aircraft can operate at maximum capabilities. Runway length is also important from a cost perspective, because longer runways generally cost more to maintain. Runway length requirements often are difficult to determine for small (i.e., under 12,500 pounds) aircraft, due to limited and hard-to-acquire aircraft data. In addition FAA Advisory Circular 150/5325-4B, Runway Length Requirements for Airport Design has not been updated in nearly 15 years and may not reflect current small aircraft fleet performance data. Airports need confidence that the calculated runway length will meet their service needs. Although the FAA is pursuing development of a runway length analysis tool for large aircraft, which will be integral to an update of the advisory circular, research is needed to develop a similar tool for small aircraft.
The objective of this research is to develop a Small Aircraft Runway Length Analysis Tool, Small Aircraft Performance Database, and user guide for the tool.
The Small Aircraft Runway Length Analysis Tool should:
  • Account for unique airport characteristics and conditions (e.g., temperature, elevation, gradient, wet runway);
  • Consider both individual aircraft types and aircraft families; and
  • Allow users to evaluate various runway length scenarios based on guidance from FAA advisory circulars, varying levels of service, or what may be desired by the airport and community.
The Small Aircraft Performance Database should, at a minimum:
  • Include active civil fixed-wing aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds and certificated under 14 CFR Part 23; and
  • Account for performance engineering by aircraft type (e.g., takeoff weight, power settings).
The user guide should include, at a minimum:
  • Step-by-step instructions for using the tool;
  • Suggestions for data sources and/or assumptions to best characterize the unique operational features of subject airports;
  • Guidelines for setting up runway length analysis cases; and
  • Guidelines for interpreting and presenting results to various stakeholders.




Research complete.  Results published in Web-Only Document 54.

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