FAA seeks to better define role of GA airports

February 14, 2013

In an ongoing study to define the diverse roles of general aviation airports in the country, the FAA has launched a second phase that focuses on categorizing nearly 500 airports that did not fit into one of four classifications.

In May 2012, the agency released its study, “General Aviation Airports: A National Asset,” categorizing 2,952 GA airports as national, regional, local, or basic. However, 497 airports listed in Appendix B-3 of the study were not categorized, sparking concern from AOPA and the industry because the categories will be used as “a tool to help the FAA and state aeronautical agencies make more consistent planning decisions for the nation’s GA airports.”

According to the FAA, “airports in the national category give communities access to national and international markets. Regional airports connect communities to statewide and interstate markets. Local airports provide access to intrastate and interstate markets. Finally, basic airports link communities with the national airport system and support general aviation activities.”

“Because GA airports encompass such a variety of general aviation activities, it’s important that these remaining airports are accurately categorized,” said AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro. A GA airport can have emergency preparedness and law enforcement activities; corporate flight activity; disaster relief flights; personal flying including practicing flight skills, personal or family travel, and personal enjoyment; as well as critical community services supported by government agencies such as Customs and Border Patrol, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Marshalls Service.

A joint FAA-industry group that includes AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, American Association for Airport Executives, and General Aviation Airport Coalition is working to classify the remaining airports. AOPA also will be working with 166 of its Airport Support Network volunteers who are based at the uncategorized airports to provide critical information to ensure they are classified appropriately.

Results of the second phase of the study are planned to be released in December.