Sustainable Airport Master Plan


Sustainable airport master plans are a comprehensive evaluation that reviews the infrastructure needs of an airport over a 20-year planning period to identify cost-effective and environmentally friendly solutions that will be necessary to meet projected demand. Initially began as a pilot program by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), sustainable master plans vary in complexity and scope based on the size, function, issues, and challenges of an airport.

The purpose of a sustainable master plan is to provide the framework necessary to guide the future development of an airport, considering environmental and socioeconomic issues while evaluating costs associated with alternative concepts so that a timeline can be established for their implementation. Master plans also help provide preliminary information needed to further evaluate environmental and socioeconomic impacts of each proposed alternative as well as provide justification for the recommended development actions. It should be noted that while airport master plans are primarily intended for use by an airport sponsor, its staff, consultants, the FAA, and state aviation officials, they are also beneficial planning documents for board members, municipal officials, community planners, and the general public.

Project Overview

The sustainable master planning process is comprised of a series of fundamental elements that help determine what infrastructure developments will be needed throughout the planning period to meet future aviation demand. While some of these elements may vary in complexity based upon the scope of the study and the development needs of an airport, all play an essential role in the master planning process. Each element is defined as a task in the study effort and may be presented as a standalone chapter in the final sustainable master plan report. The following summarizes each element of the sustainable master planning process:

  • Study Design – The study design element includes development of a comprehensive scope of services, project schedule, budget, and definition of the roles and responsibilities of each project team member.
  • Public Information, Education, and Outreach – This element focuses on communication and outreach with the public on Airport needs, benefits, opportunities and project rationale. Informational workshops and a project website often provide successful forums for the public to comment on the planning effort and addresses concerns in a proactive manner.
  • Data Collection / Inventory – The collection of information on the condition of existing facilities for subsequent plan elements is the focus of this planning element. Data can be collected through a variety of means that includes, but is not limited to, existing master plans, recent environmental documents, the existing airport layout plans (ALPs), Geographic Information System (GIS) databases, aerial photography, mapping, FAA databases, Airport records, and user surveys.
  • Projections of Aviation Demand – This planning element focuses on the preparation of aviation demand projections to help determine future airside, landside, and support infrastructure needs. This is accomplished through a variety of standard forecasting methodologies such as market share, regression analysis, time series analysis, and trend line analysis.
  • Facility Requirements – The facility requirements planning element focuses on determining the improvements that will be needed for airside and landside facilities to accommodate the level of demand projected for the next 20 years. Demand/capacity analyses of airfield and landside infrastructure are often included as a part of this planning element.
  • Alternatives Analysis – Alternatives to meet the facility requirements are prepared as a part of this planning element to identify recommended development options for each infrastructure need. Each recommended alternative selected to address the future needs of an airport is selected based on an analysis of other development options considering operational, economic, environmental, sustainability, and implementation factors.
  • Environmental Overview – Environmentally sensitive features on and surrounding an airport and the potential impacts it may have on proposed development is the focus of this planning element. The intent of this task is to prepare an inventory of information on the significance of potential environmental impacts, possible abatement options, and mitigation measures that should be considered to reduce or eliminate any impacts.
  • Sustainability Planning – Although identified as an individual element, sustainability will be incorporated throughout all project elements. The goal of this element is to conduct a baseline assessment of activities and resource consumption at the Airport in order to identify opportunities for improvements. Assessments of air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, natural resource consumption, and energy usage are often taken so that sustainability goals, initiatives, and improvements can be identified for daily activities and infrastructure improvement projects that occur throughout the planning period.
  • Financial Feasibility Analysis – The financial feasibility analysis helps identify potential funding sources for the recommended alternatives considering other planned capital improvements and the financial resources of an airport. A detailed financial plan for implementation of the recommended alternatives is prepared to present reasonable guidelines for matching projected financial resources with identified needs.
  • Airport Layout Plan (ALP) – The Airport Layout Plan of an airport, which is a set of drawings illustrating existing and future planned development at an airport, is updated as a part of this planning element to illustrate the development that is recommended from the sustainable master planning effort.
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