Determine the Aviation Roles of Your Airport
The NPIAS classification and ASSET reports give general information about airport roles but do not give specifics about activity at individual airports. To find this information you can explore what activities are presently occurring at your airport. At some airports there may be obvious roles, such as airlines and cargo carriers, which account for a majority of the activity. But even at these airports, there are other activities and roles that the airport is playing that may not be seen at first glance. Typically, airports operate 24/7 and the aviation role of an airport to the community may not be observable during traditional 8am-5pm business hours. To see a list of possible aviation-related airport activity see Aviation Services to the Community
There are several methods to begin this process of determining specific roles of your airport. These include reviewing the regular activity or special events occurring at the airport, learning about the airport tenants, and conducting user surveys. This may reveal surprising results about how your community uses your airport.
For commercial service airports, review the flight schedules and destinations, and reach out to the airlines serving the airport. Doing so can reveal information about how the service affects the community and what role it plays in the region.
A simple way to gauge the aviation role of an airport is to observe regular activity. Making note of aircraft parked on apron areas, passengers in the FBO, or cataloging takeoffs and landings is an unobtrusive method for learning about what happens at the airport. Are there small cargo aircraft or business jets using the airport? If so, find out who they are in the community to see if they will share that information. Are there flight instructors practicing landings with students? If so, see if the student will show why they are doing training. Is it for recreational purposes, a future professional career, or other reason?
What you are trying to capture is the breadth and depth of who is using the airport, how frequently and why they are using it. Reviewing airport activity and user logs is another technique used to quickly learn about aviation operations. Simple interviews with FBO staff can also result in a good synopsis of the activity at the airport.
Another method for learning about aviation-specific roles at your airport is to learn about the airport tenants. What type of aircraft are stored in the hangars, who owns them and what are they used for? What businesses are located at the airport? These questions further explore and reveal the roles of the airport. For example, you may have a corporate flight department based at your airport that enables a business to have access to a much larger market than if they did not use aviation. This is important to know when determining the role and value of aviation in your community.
Community Business Advocates
The local Chamber of Commerce or an Economic Development Corporation can be a valuable resource when determining who is using the airport and for what purpose. These organizations might have insight into who in the community uses the airport to conduct business. Has their promotion of the airport led to a business locating in the area? Is the airport a frequent topic of conversation when speaking with exiting and potential businesses? These questions may indicate what activity is taking place at your airport.
Conducting a user survey is another method for indicating the role of the airport within the community. This will likely capture not only based aircraft, but itinerant aircraft, and allows a forum for feedback on how the airport is used by specific users, and how the airport’s role may be improved.
Review the airport and community calendar for special events. Air shows, fly-in events, or airport open houses are all examples of special events that may lead to community-airport interactions. At some airports, these events are so large that a bulk of the annual activity at the airport occurs during these events.