Making the case for your airfield improvement

Posted in: Aviation


san-luis-obispo-runway-development-300x184pxThe aircraft operating at airports are a varying fleet of wide bodies, narrow bodies, regional and business jets, turbo props and pistons. Each has different operational characteristics requiring different runway lengths and pavement configurations.

Just because you have a 10,000 foot long and 150 foot wide runway does not – from the FAA’s perspective – mean you need it. Maybe your users need only 7,000 foot long and 100 foot wide, and so FAA may not be willing to pay to reconstruct more. At the same time, you may anticipate handling more demanding aircraft than you currently see. With increasing costs and decreasing resources for construction and maintenance, the objective is to provide the least amount of infrastructure to accommodate your users, while still preserving the opportunity for growth.

Recent and expected changes to FAA’s Airport Improvement Program Handbook and Advisory Circulars on Airport Design and Runway Length, are prompting a fresh look at airport planning and design. Airports that once set out to preserve space for multiple new future runways now consider if land can be released for development. They are also looking at taxiway configurations to see if connectors can be removed but still provide the same operational efficiency.

As competition for federal funding increases, the FAA is supporting projects that are justified and reasonable. The FAA is looking at existing airfields as if they were being built new for the first time. You must demonstrate the airfield development is needed based on FAA criteria. This means building a case is a critical path item for project development and implementation. We are connecting earlier with our clients, agencies and stakeholders to see that upcoming improvements are defensible and accepted, so the project can proceed with confidence.

Mead & Hunt took on these topics with FAA Planning and Engineering Offices at the recent Airport Consultants Council Airports Technical Workshop in Washington, DC. We participated in panels with policymakers to understand their perspective, so we can position our clients for success.


Damon Smith, PE

About the Author

Damon Smith, P.E., is adept at employing communication, people and planning to attain project advancement and stakeholder satisfaction. Damon gained his education (and his southern accent) from the University of Louisville, is past chair of the Airport Consultants Council Planning Committee and current  Northwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives Board Member. Although he prefers to be hiking, motorcycling, paddling and listening to music, he is more often found removing thorns and thistle from his yard.

Read more posts by Damon Smith, PE

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