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The National Academies

ACRP 01-52 [Pending]

Strategic Futuring of Airports and their Role in the U.S. Airport System

  Project Data
Funds: $650,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Marci A. Greenberger

BACKGROUND
 
Airports began providing needed transportation of people and goods at a time when the U.S. highway system infrastructure was quite different, and air travel made the most sense for moving between cities. Today’s aviation system has evolved over multiple decades, resulting in a patchwork of regulations and associated expectations that haven’t always been stitched together cohesively. With the benefit of hindsight, it is time to look at the relationships of those expectations. Now airports are expected to be engines of economic development, facilitators of economic justice, and models of environmental stewardship all while meeting customer expectations and supporting the needs of the community within a framework developed 75 years ago.   
 
The aviation industry has reached an inflection point, and now is time to reflect on the past and strategically plan for the future.  
 
A crystal ball cannot reveal the future of aviation, but there are systematic approaches for identifying a vision. Planning for the future requires understanding where the industry has been and how it has arrived at this point. There is a need for an analysis of the history of airport legislation, regulations, and programs as a method for understanding how airports can support the future of aviation.

OBJECTIVE
 
The objective of this research is a report that identifies the role of airports in supporting the future of aviation. This report will consider the structure of the U.S. airport system, and individual airports and their relationships with and effects upon citizens, the environment, and local communities.
 
The report will have three parts. 
 
Part 1 will be a summary of the history and rationale of legislation, regulations or programs affecting airports and the airport system. An analysis should be conducted that includes the benefits and consequences (intended and unintended) on local communities, states, and the national aviation system of the following elements (at a minimum):
 
   Grant assurances;
   Funding (e.g., PFC, AIP, bonds);
   Environmental requirements (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), noise, environmental management systems);
   Civil rights (e.g., Diverse Business Enterprise (DBE), small business);
   Airport governance; and
   Air service programs (e.g., Essential Air Service (EAS), Open Skies).
 
Part 2 will be the results and outcomes of the futuring exercise.
 
Part 3 will identify the issues, challenges, and opportunities that will need further considerations for achieving the future of aviation. It will also include recommended research.
 
RESEARCH PLAN
 
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to provide 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 will be conducted in two phases.

Phase I

Phase I will consist of the research and analysis of the history and rationale of legislation, regulations or programs affecting airports and the airport system. The research plan should include deliverables for ACRP and panel review and approval (at a minimum):
  • An interim report that includes the summary and analysis of the legislation, regulation, programs, and associated expectations for ACRP review and approval and submit a futuring exercise plan (see Special Note A) to be conducted in Phase II.
  • An interim meeting between the research team and panel following the receipt of the Phase I report.
After approval of the Phase I report and futuring exercise plan, conduct the futuring exercise in Phase II.

Phase II

Phase II will be a strategic futuring exercise to develop a vision of the role of airports to support the aviation ecosystem of the future The research plan should include deliverables for ACRP and panel review and approval (at a minimum):
  • Summary of the issues, challenges, and opportunities that will need further considerations for moving forward to achieving the future state.
STATUS:  The panel is reviewing proposals and will be meeting in May to select a contractor.
 

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