FAA Launches Study of GA Airports

Review could lead to reclassification for many facilities serving general aviation.

GA Airport
GA Airport

The FAA has launched a major review of general aviation airports across the U.S. to better promote “the many roles and functions” these airports serve in their respective communities. The review, which began last fall, is focusing on infrastructure needs and, the agency says, could lead to reclassifications for many airports.** **

In recent years, the FAA has conducted two studies that have looked at capacity and development needs at commercial airports. Now, the agency is turning its attention to general aviation airports.

There are 2,950 “non-primary” airports included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), including non-primary commercial service, reliever and general aviation airports. “Defining these airports simply as ‘non-primary’ does not adequately describe the many diverse roles these airports play in their communities,” the FAA said. “General aviation airports provide a variety of functions, ranging from access for emergency medical services, disaster relief, aerial firefighting, law enforcement and border control to agricultural functions, flight training, charter passenger and time-sensitive air cargo services, among others.”

The agency is working closely with aviation industry associations, state aeronautical agencies, airport directors, airport authorities, airport planners, local councils of governments, and aviation user groups to classify general aviation airports based on the roles they serve. “These stakeholders agree that more descriptive categories are needed to help the general public understand the importance of these airports and their capital investment needs,” the FAA said.

With input from aviation industry stakeholders, the FAA will develop a list of classifications for general aviation airports and publish a report by January proposing updated federal airport classifications for general aviation airports that reflect the airports’ roles in their community, region and national system; provide examples to illustrate the value of each airport category; and provide a framework for a “strategic vision” for the national airport system.