2.1 Airport Classification and Why It Matters

All airports benefit the communities they serve by attracting businesses, supporting aviation-related businesses, providing access to the national and international airspace system, and serving individual needs. The role of the airport in the national, state, or local aviation system affects the financial support an airport is eligible to receive and the standards the facilities and operations must meet.

ACRP Legal Research Digest 7: Airport Governance and Ownership
Addresses the issue of essential powers to operate an airport; defines what airport governance includes; describes the advantages and disadvantages of the various governance structures; identifies and analyzes a number of projects where airports were transferred from one form of governance to another; and examines legal problems encountered during these transfers.

ACRP Legal Research Digest 15: Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation
Provides information pertaining to each state’s airport-specific legislation, including laws establishing, developing, operating, expanding, and funding airports. The compilation focuses on legislation expressly applicable to public airports rather than legislation applicable to local governments generally. It compares and contrasts zoning and land use; purchasing authority; commercial operations; ground transportation, funding, and taxing authority; law enforcement; and sovereign immunity.

ACRP Legal Research Digest 24: Sovereign Immunity for Public Airport Operations
Examines sovereign immunity as it applies to public airports that are owned and operated by units of local government or regional governmental authorities. This digest summarizes the extent of sovereign immunity granted to airports from state to state. Appendix A provides a table of cases, and Appendix B contains a chart of authorities.

ACRP Report 58: Airport Industry Familiarization and Training for Part-Time Airport Policy Makers
Provides a tool for the small airport manager to use to help airport policy leaders, stakeholders, and policy-related decision makers to understand airport administrative and operational requirements in order to make more informed policy decisions.

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5070-7: The Airport System Planning Process
Provides guidance for effective airport system planning including state and regional airport system plans to address system needs identification, systemwide development cost estimates, studies, surveys, and other planning actions to determine the aeronautical needs to be met by the system and standards prescribed by the state for development at nonprimary public-use airports.

General Aviation Airports: A National Asset (Asset 1) and In-depth Review of 497 Unclassified Airports (Asset 2)
Documents an 18-month study (Asset 1) of the nearly 3,000 GA airports, heliports, and seaplane bases identified in the FAA’s National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). This in-depth analysis highlights for the traveling public the pivotal role GA airports play in our society, economy, and the aviation system. The study also groups the GA airports into four categories—national, regional, local, and basic—based on their existing activity levels. The new categories better capture their diverse functions and the economic contributions GA airports make to their communities and the nation. The follow-on study (Asset 2) was conducted to further analyze the GA airports that were unable to be classified into one of the four categories in the original study.

National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems
Identifies nearly 3,400 existing and proposed airports that are significant to national air transportation and thus eligible to receive federal grants under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). It also includes estimates of the amount of AIP money needed to fund infrastructure development projects that will bring these airports up to current design standards and add capacity to congested airports. The FAA is required to provide Congress with a 5-year estimate of AIP-eligible development every 2 years.

FAR Part 139: Certification of Airports
Prescribes the rules governing the certification and operation of airports in the United States or any territory or possession.