Identifying Your Airport’s Classification

An excellent starting point when identifying an airport’s role is to use the federal and state planning studies presented in the Understand sections Airport Roles According to NPIAS, General Aviation Airports – A National Asset and State Airport System Plans. The NPIAS, ASSET 1, and ASSET 2 reports provide general descriptions of airport roles based on the determined airport classification as defined by the FAA. State airport system plans are unique to each state, and often provide classifications based on state-created criteria that define an airport’s role beyond the FAA classification.

  • Finding Your Airport’s NPIAS Classification
  • By using Appendix A: List of NPIAS Airports with 5-Year Forecast Activity and Development Estimate of the most recent NPIAS report, you can begin to define your airport. Appendix A contains a brief explanation of terms and abbreviations used in the report and is followed by a summary of all states, a list of new airports, and finally a table for each state with details for each NPIAS airport. In addition to the listings, Appendix B: State and Territory Maps of NPIAS Airports is available for a geographical display of NPIAS airports. It is available in six parts broken down by groups of states and territories.

    By navigating to the appropriate state or territory in the appendices, the user can determine if their airport is listed in the NPIAS. This information is useful because it reveals some information about the role of the airport. This information includes:

    • Hub – This designation is for primary commercial service airports only, and indicates one of four hub sizes (large, medium, small, and nonhub) based on passenger enplanements.
    • ASSET Role – For nonprimary airports that serve mostly GA, this shows one of four ASSET Role categories (national, regional, local, basic) based on activity measures as determined in the ASSET 1 report. A fifth category of “unclassified” is also possible.
    • Service Level – describes the level of service provided to the community in one of four categories: commercial service – primary (for primary airports), and commercial service – non-primary, reliever airport or GA airport (for nonprimary airports). The level of service is shown for the current level and the level expected at the end of the 5-year planning period.
    • Enplaned – number of passengers enplaned (boarded on commercial service) during the most recent fiscal year
    • Based Aircraft – This is the number of aircraft currently based at the airport (i.e. an airplane’s “home” airport where it is usually stored).

    Does the airport’s NPIAS classification match what you expected? Was your airport not included in the NPIAS? Find out why and how to change classifications in the Action section.

  • Finding Your Airport’s ASSET Classification
  • If the NPIAS determined that your airport is a nonprimary airport, and therefore has an ‘Asset Role’ listed, you can continue to the ASSET 1 report (and if needed the ASSET 2 report) to learn expanded details about the airport and its various roles. By navigating to the FAA’s General Aviation Airports Reports and locating 2012 ASSET Appendix B – Airport Listings, you may find your airport defined in one of the four ASSET roles. Find your airport in the section titled Appendix B-2: List of General Aviation Airports in the Four New Categories. You can locate your state and your airport in the tables to retrieve the information regarding your airport’s ASSET classification. The information is similar to the NPIAS and lists the city, airport name, Location ID (unique airport identifier), ownership (public/private/military), service level (GA, reliever, and commercial service), and ASSET category (national, regional, local, or basic). If your airport was listed in the NPIAS as unclassified, your airport is likely listed in the Appendix B-3: List of General Aviation Airports Not Classified section of the ASSET 1 report.

    For airports originally in the unclassified category, you may use the ASSET 2 report section and navigate to Appendix 3: Airport Disposition by State on the General Aviation Airports Reports page. This table shows the disposition of the unclassified airports. Some airports were moved into one of the four ASSET categories (national, regional, local, or basic), while some airports remained unclassified.

    Learn more about the role of your airport by using the links provided in the Resources tab in this section. The planning studies presented provide detailed information about the categories identified in the NPIAS and ASSET reports. In general, the activity levels of the four types of airports identified in the ASSET reports are as follows:

    • National – National airports have very high levels of jet and multiengine propeller aircraft activity, an average of about 200 based aircraft, including about 30 based jet aircraft.
    • Regional – Regional airports have high levels of activity, some of which are jet and multiengine propeller aircraft, and average about 90 based aircraft, including about 3 based jet aircraft.
    • Local – Local airports have moderate activity levels with some multiengine propeller aircraft, with an average of about 33 based propeller-driven aircraft and no based jets.
    • Basic – Basic airports have low to moderate levels of activity, 10 based propeller-driven aircraft and no based jets.
  • Finding Your Airport in the State System Plan
  • Because each state conducts their own system plan for the airports within the individual states, there is no standard method for identifying airport roles and classification in each state’s plan. Typically, state plans have self-developed classifications and criteria, and this information can be gathered in the data collection process. See State Airport System Plans for more information.



    The NPIAS Narrative Report includes description of each airport category and the roles of those airports. Additionally, Appendix A, List of NPIAS Airports with 5-Year Forecast Activity and Development Estimate contains a list of all NPIAS airports and Appendix B, State and Territory Maps of NPIAS Airports contains maps of the NPIAS airports.

  • General Aviation Airports: A National Asset (ASSET 1)

    This report provides a wealth of information for airports that mainly serve GA:

    • ASSET Narrative provides examples of airport roles that serve the community
    • ASSET Appendix A – Technical Analysis provides key findings for each airport category
    • ASSET Appendix B – Airport Listings contains the list of airports and their categories
  • ASSET 2: In-Depth Review of the 497 Unclassified Airports

    This report contains the criteria used in an attempt to classify the unclassified airports in the ASSET 1 report. Appendix 3, Airport Disposition by State contains the disposition of each airport that remained unclassified after then ASSET 1 report.