The National Academies

ACRP 02-92 [Active]

Creating Self-Directed Resiliency Plans at GA Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $320,000
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin
Research Agency: The Cadmus Group LLC
Principal Investigator: Amanda Witt
Effective Date: 7/27/2021
Completion Date: 1/26/2023

Successful management of a general aviation (GA) airport must include resilience planning to be prepared for the unexpected. GA airports are uniquely positioned assets in any community and it is imperative for GA airport staff to understand, predict, and address shocks (e.g., airplane accidents, severe weather, utility outages, fuel disruptions, and natural disasters) and stressors (e.g., employment challenges, aging infrastructure, climate change impacts, political and economic changes, and resource limitations) before they happen. Resilience planning in GA airports must be proactive in identifying ways to avoid, withstand, and recover from shocks and stressors.
There are nearly 3,000 GA airports, heliports, and seaplane bases identified in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). The FAA has indexed all general aviation airports in the ASSET 1 and ASSET 2 reports. While GA airports typically do not serve the military or commercial airlines, they are key contributors to the successful network of the nation's airports and are important to the communities in which they operate. Self-directed resilience planning will focus needed attention and cost-saving benefits to the numerous and varied GA airport sponsors around the country. Having the correct set of product(s) and tools and guidelines on how to use them will motivate operators to conduct their own resilience planning. Operators need to develop cost-effective resilience plans with priorities that address the unique services, conditions, and environmental elements of their airports. 
The objective of this research is to develop a product or products that GA airports of various categories and sizes can use to enhance their resilience.  The product(s) should guide airports in preparing to respond, adapt, and sustain itself to all varieties of stressors or shocks including economic, social, political, environmental, and operational or infrastructure.  The product(s) should guide GA airport sponsors through a planning process, without the aid of consultants and at minimal costs.  
At a minimum, the product(s) should include:
  • A summary of airport resiliency planning and its value at GA airports.  
  • A discussion of technologies and strategies to address present and future disruptors and factors that do and could challenge GA airport business models.
  • A discussion on the stressors and shocks that GA airports could face.
  • Guidance on collaborating with and understanding how GA airports can support federal/state/local entities and municipalities during stressors and shocks, including collaboration and communication with airport tenants, stakeholders, and the general public.
  • Case studies of a variety of GA airports at different levels of maturity in resilience planning.  
  • A template for preparing communication and briefing tools, which GA airport managers could use to educate community leaders on the need and value of GA airports especially during stressors and shocks.
  • A discussion of the integration of resilience planning in other airport planning processes, i.e., master planning, strategic planning, etc., and the consideration of funding sources, i.e., state, AIP, potential public/private partnerships or third-party investment, etc.
  • A low-cost stress test exercise that GA airports could conduct.
  • Guidelines for GA airports that will enable the airport sponsor to evaluate and prepare to take the proper responses and actions to effectively manage their airport during stressors and shocks.

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