Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine June/July 2021
FREDERICK, MD – Pilots would have an easier time selecting a destination on the airport after landing if the many terms airports use to label general aviation parking areas on FAA airport diagrams were boiled down to three. In the absence of a standard set of airport diagram labels for GA aircraft parking, AOPA has united an impressive group of 300 pilot and aviation organizations from across the country to support the use of such terms.
The three recommended parking-area terms and definitions include:
• FBO RAMP: An apron where itinerant general aviation operators can park their aircraft and expect to have access to traditional FBO services subject to terms and conditions.
• GA TRANSIENT RAMP: An apron where itinerant general aviation operators can park their aircraft without FBO services and subject to terms and conditions.
• GA TENANT RAMP: An area designated for parking of based general aviation aircraft, i.e. tiedown area.
AOPA conducted a review of airport diagrams and found as many as 30 different parking terms for the same type of ramp in southern California alone. Many airports currently have transient GA parking areas that are available to pilots, but are either not labeled or labeled in a way that is not clear or relevant to the ramp’s purpose. Standardized terms will eliminate confusion for pilots, better identify parking options for pilots where they exist, and assist pilots in preflight planning.
“There is very strong support in the pilot community for transparency at our nation’s airports, whether it be FBO fees or airport ramps,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “The use of these standard parking terms, if applicable to an airport, will be very helpful to pilots by indicating parking options to fit their particular needs. We understand airports have different situations, but we will certainly do everything we can to encourage them to participate in this industry-led effort.”
Standardizing the terms for airport diagrams will become increasingly important for pilots because the FAA plans to expand the number of airports required to provide an airport diagram from about 700 today to nearly 3,000 in the not-too-distant future.
Making the switch to the new terminology could happen quickly should an airport decide to submit changes, possibly as soon as the next FAA diagram publication cycle, because the FAA would not be required to conduct an engineering review before approving the revisions.
“Transparency for all FBO fees and GA ramps at our nation’s public-use airports shouldn’t even be an issue but unfortunately it is. Pilots have a right to know how much they are going to pay and where they can park their airplane—whether piston or turbine. And we certainly don’t need any more surprises, especially from the large chain FBOs that continue to grow and expand. I am so proud that the GA community is speaking with one voice on this issue of transparency. We are certainly stronger when we work together and having support from so many pilots and aviation organizations is encouraging,” Baker said.