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5.3 Airport Planning

Airport planning is needed to establish the long-term vision for an airport, or system of airports, and to provide a strategy for achieving that vision. Airport planning can include a variety of studies, with the most common being the airport master plan and airport layout plan (ALP). Airport planning activities include forecasting aviation activity and identifying the critical aircraft.

ACRP Report 113: Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning
Provides guidance for planning airport facilities that accommodate general aviation aircraft. The guidance is designed to help airport practitioners plan flexible and cost-effective facilities that are responsive to industry needs.

ACRP Report 129: Evaluating Methods for Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports
Reviews techniques and technologies applied at airports without air traffic control towers to estimate aircraft operations.

ACRP Research Report 168: Runway Protection Zones (RPZs) Risk Assessment Tool Users’ Guide 
Helps airport operators evaluate the risk of an aircraft accident within an RPZ. Although RPZs are supposed to be clear of structures and people, it is still common for activities to occur within an RPZ for many reasons, and these reasons can be beyond the control of the airport operator. The report is accompanied by a tool used to assess the risk of an aircraft accident within the RPZ and, based on that output, assess the risk to people and property, considering the population density and land use. The tool can be used to run scenarios for planning around an RPZ or if changes are being considered, for example a change in the threshold, extending a runway, removing a hazard, and planning for a new runway.

ACRP Synthesis 2: Airport Aviation Activity Forecasting
Examines how airport forecasts are used and identifies common aviation metrics, aviation data sources, issues in data collection and preparation, and special data issues at non-towered airports.  The synthesis also explores available forecasting methods—including the primary statistical methods; market share analysis; econometric modeling; and time series modeling—and reviews forecast uncertainty, accuracy, issues of optimism bias, and options for resolving differences when multiple forecasts are available.

ACRP Synthesis 4: Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports
Explores the different methods used by states, airports, and metropolitan planning organizations  of counting and estimating aircraft operations at non-towered airports.  The synthesis also examines new technologies that can be used for these counts and estimates.

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5000-77: Critical Aircraft and Regular Use Determination
Defines the term “critical aircraft” and provides guidance on the use of critical aircraft in facility planning and design studies, as well as related FAA decision making, for federally obligated airports. It also defines the term “regular use.”

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5070-6: Airport Master Plans
Provides guidance for the preparation of airport master plans that range in size and function from small general aviation to large commercial service facilities.  The advisory circular identifies a flexible approach to master planning to direct attention to critical issues at the individual airports.

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-13: Airport Design
Establishes FAA standards and recommendations for the geometric layout and engineering design of runways, taxiways, aprons, and other facilities at civil airports. Identifies airport reference code, approach reference code, departure reference code, and taxiway design group that are used in identifying the appropriate design standards for an airport.

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-16: General Guidance and Specifications for Aeronautical Surveys: Establishment of Geodetic Control and Submission to the National Geodetic Survey
Explains the specifications for establishing geodetic control on or near an airport. It also describes how to submit the information to the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) for approval and inclusion in the National Spatial Reference System in support of aeronautical information surveys

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-17: Standards for Using Remote Sensing Technologies in Airport Surveys
Provides guidance on the use of remote sensing technologies in the collection of data describing the physical infrastructure of an airport.

FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-18: General Guidance and Specifications for Submission of Aeronautical Surveys to NGS: Field Data Collection and Geographic Information System (GIS) Standards
Provides the specifications for the collection of airport data for the FAA Airport Surveying—Geographic Information System (GIS) Program. Also explains how to submit data to the FAA, which will forward the safety-critical data to the NGS for independent verification and validation.

FAA Aerospace Forecasts
Developed to support budget and planning needs of the FAA. The forecasts are developed using statistical models to explain and incorporate emerging trends of the different segments of the aviation industry.

FAA Air Traffic Activity System (ATADS)
FAA Operations and Performance Data provides access to historical traffic counts, forecasts of aviation activity, and delay statistics for small airports with an airport traffic control tower.

FAA Airports Geographic Information System (Airport GIS) Transition Policy for Non-Safety Critical Projects
Provides national guidance for the phased implementation of Airports GIS for non-safety critical projects, based on information provided in the FAA Airports Implementation Guidance/or Airports Geographic Information System (Airports GIS), v2.1, Section IV: Airports GIS Transition Policy.

FAA Interim Guidance on Land Uses Within a Runway Protection Zone
Presents interim policy guidance on compatible land uses within RPZs to address recurrent questions about what constitutes a compatible land use and how to evaluate proposed land uses that would reside in an RPZ.

FAA National Based Aircraft Inventory Program
Intended for use by airport managers, sponsors, and their authorized personnel to review and maintain their lists of based aircraft. State aviation offices and specific FAA personnel are also authorized to use the site for the support of the airports in this program. The general public can obtain a list of based aircraft at airports within a specific state.

FAA Order 5100.38: Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Handbook, Chapter 3, Section 5
Provides the policies and procedures on how the ALP is used in determining what projects can be funded under the Airport Improvement Program based on the enabling legislation.

FAA Standard Operating Procedure 2: FAA Review and Approval of Airport Layout Plans (ALPs)
Provides procedures for the FAA Office of Airports to review an ALP. Includes a checklist of information for each page of the ALP, the applicability of which may vary by size and complexity of airport.

FAA Standard Operating Procedure 3: FAA Review of Exhibit “A” Airport Property Inventory Maps
Provides procedures for the FAA Office of Airports to review and accept Exhibit “A”s and includes a review process chart for Exhibit “A” airport property inventory maps and a review checklist.

FAA Standard Operating Procedure 9: FAA Aeronautical Study, Coordination and Evaluation
Provides procedures for the FAA Office of Airports to process aeronautical studies.

FAA Traffic Flow Management System Counts
FAA Operations and Performance Data provides access to historical traffic counts, forecasts of aviation activity, and delay statistics for non-towered airports to help identify the critical aircraft, especially transient users.

FAA Terminal Area Forecast (TAF)
Contains active airports in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems including FAA-towered airports, federal contract-towered airports, non-federal towered airports, and non-towered airports. Forecasts are prepared for major users of the National Airspace System including air carrier, air taxi/commuter, general aviation, and military. The forecasts are prepared to meet the budget and planning needs of the FAA and provide information for use by state and local authorities, the aviation industry, and the public. This is official FAA forecast of aviation activity for U.S. airports.

FAA Airport Noise Compatibility Planning Toolkit
Provides noise and land use compatibility planning tools.

Sample User Survey Template
Editable template for surveying users for critical aircraft usage and operational data.