They Do Understand!

by Dan McDowell
Mn/DOT Office of Aeronautics

Did you know that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does understand the value of General Aviation airports? They clearly demonstrate that fact in a newly released study entitled “General Aviation Airports:  A National Asset.” The 34-page report was actually released in late May 2012.

The FAA committed 18 months to gathering current and accurate information about GA airports across the country. The report, spearheaded by Christa Fornarotto, Associate Administrator for Airports, stated in its opening summary statement, “There are over 19,000 airports, heliports, seaplane bases, and other landing facilities in the United States and its territories. Of these, 3,330 are included in the FAA’s National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), are open to the public, and are eligible for federal funding via the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).”

The report discusses the many uses and values GA brings to the industry and the nation as a whole, but it focuses on “the federal network of general aviation airports, heliports, and seaplane bases and divides them into four new categories based on existing activity levels and related criteria: national, regional, local, and basic.”

One of the most important blocks of information is the FAA’s new categories for GA airports. These new categories are designed to help policy makers at all levels support GA airports.  According to the FAA, “The new general aviation categories will provide a baseline from which to measure changes in operations and needs. State and local governments will be encouraged to use the new categories to help guide future system and airport planning decisions. Those general aviation airports that meet the statutory definitions of commercial service and reliever will continue to be so classified within the four new categories. The FAA will periodically review and adjust the general aviation airports included in the NPIAS based on changing activity levels.”

The summary statement goes on to say, “Most people are familiar with one or more of the 378 primary airports that support scheduled commercial air service, such as John F. Kennedy International, Chicago O’Hare International, or Los Angeles International, where U.S. and foreign airlines operate. We also rely on the other 2,952 landing facilities (2,903 airports, 10 heliports, and 39 seaplane bases) to support aero medical flights, aerial fire-fighting, law enforcement, disaster relief, and to provide access to remote communities.”

Download a copy of this report by going online: http://www.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/ga_study/media/2012AssetReport.pdf

This document can be a valuable tool for you to use to share with your community leaders and to inform and educate the citizens of your community about the value GA brings to everyone, not just aviators. You’ve heard this before, but perhaps many local citizens have not; your airport is the front door to your community.

Keeping your airport well maintained, clean, and available to the flying public is an open invitation for increased tourism and recreational spending within your community. Your airport is a valuable asset that also attracts services, businesses, and jobs to be a part of your community. It brings value and benefits that every citizen can enjoy, by being your community’s front door.

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