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Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning (2014)

Chapter: Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - General GA Facility Planning." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2014. Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22300.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

33 C H A P T E R 4 GA facility planning is often done within the context of an airport master plan or ALP update; however, some GA facility planning is done solely for one facility. Chapter 4 will help readers with planning GA facilities, regardless of the context in which the planning is done. An old saying in the airport industry is: “If you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seen one airport.” Airports are different. They have different community goals, geometry, aviation activity, climates, engineering and environmental challenges, and different financial capabilities. As a result, planning of GA facilities cannot be done in a cookie-cutter manner. This chapter outlines the basic principles of a good plan, identifies documents that govern the plan, highlights activity indicators that drive the plan, discusses some of the considerations that go into planning, and offers a step-by-step process. Although GA facility planning is often done as part of a comprehensive air- port master plan (see Chapter 3), it can be done separately. Regardless of how it is done, Chapter 4 provides useful direction in planning for these facilities. Chapter 4 focuses on an overall GA facility plan for an airport. Chapter 5 provides guidance about specific layout and sizing of each individual type of facility. General aviation includes various users and activities (e.g., corporate flight departments, recreational users, business flying, flight training, agricultural applications, law enforcement, FBOs, and special aeronautical service opera- tors). The airport and users generally need the following facilities: • GA terminal building • Aircraft parking apron • Hangars • Fuel facilities • Access roads • Automobile parking • Administration buildings • Maintenance equipment storage • SRE storage • Wash racks • Fixed-base operations • Helicopter parking General GA Facility Planning Airports offer different opportuni- ties for planning GA facilities: • Some develop in an orderly and focused manner based on an airport master plan. Others have none or very old master plans and they develop piecemeal as the need arises. • Some have the opportunity to develop unconstrained sites. Others have to squeeze in devel- opment wherever they can. • Some have old surplus property infrastructure and a lot of it. The challenge is often to determine how much to maintain rather than what and where to build new facilities.

34 Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning Basic Principles Regardless of the context in which planning is done, the following overarching principles can help guide the development of a good GA facility plan. These principles can be used to evaluate a plan or plan alternatives: • Safety. Facilities should be developed per FAA runway/taxiway separation geometric stan- dards, creating no hazards to air navigation, nor obstructing any line-of-sight, and mini- mizing the opportunity for runway incursions. (Example of poor planning: locating a new terminal area development that blocks line-of-sight between intersecting runways.) • Efficiency. The plan should maximize development space, reflect consideration of airfield traffic flow, minimize conflicts between operations, and ensure that ground access is efficient. (Example of poor planning: locating two FBO areas adjacent to one another on the same apron, causing “turf” battles and confusing customers.) • Economics. The plan should reflect consideration of benefits versus cost, reasonable con- struction costs, a reasonable financing plan, consideration of opportunities for generating airport revenue, and opportunities for competition. (Example of poor planning: constructing a large hangar development without clear indication of its need or potential revenue to help offset the cost of development.) • Expansion. Facilities should be planned so that once built they can be expanded if necessary. (Example of a plan often resulting from site constraints: buildings/hangars around the perim- eter of an apron, not allowing future expansion of the apron.) • Balance. The GA facilities plan should be consistent with the airport’s GA Airplane Design Group and runway/taxiway capability. The capacity of each facility should be in balance with that of the other facilities as appropriate. The plan should reflect the existing and forecast facility requirements. (Example of an unbalanced plan: development of apron and hangars for aircraft larger than the existing or planned runway capability.) • Consistency. The GA facilities plan should be consistent with the airport vision, community goals and plans, the ALP, and the intent of FAA grant assurances and established airport minimum standards. GA facility plans and alternatives under consideration should be evaluated against the above principles. Both overall plans and individual facility plans can be evaluated using the checklist provided in Exhibit 4-1, with specific facility plan evaluation supplemented by individual check- lists (Chapter 5). Key Governing Documents Several documents can be helpful with the planning of GA facilities; some have been refer- enced earlier in this Guidebook. These include but are not necessarily limited to those listed in Appendix C. However, several documents could be called “governing” given that they provide strong direction and requirements for the overall planning of GA facilities. These include • The airport owner’s vision, strategic plan, business plan, and community goals for the airport and its facilities. • The airport master plan and ALP. GA facility planning is often done as part of an airport mas- ter plan, but whether it is or not, certain elements of the master plan (e.g., activity forecasts) drive facility requirements and, thus, the plan. All GA facility plans should be consistent with the latest approved ALP or be an integral part of the preparation or updating of the ALP. FAA provides guidance for master plans in AC 150/5070-6B, Airport Master Plans. A standard ALP checklist is available on the FAA Office of Airports website.

General GA Facility Planning 35 • Local zoning ordinances, land use plans, noise compatibility plans, transportation plans, and building codes. These documents influence the specific location of facilities and architecture/ designs of facilities. • FAA AC 150/5300-13A, Airport Design. This document provides the geometric standards for the location of facilities (e.g., terminal buildings, hangars, and parked aircraft) relative to runways and taxiways. These standards help ensure that a plan does not adversely impact an airport’s safety and efficiency. • State airport system plans and state requirements. Some state system plans identify the role of an airport and the specific size of desired GA facilities. A state system plan sometimes drives a state aviation agency’s decision to fund certain facilities. • Airport minimum standards. Most airports have adopted standards that specify the mini- mum size of GA facilities and the types of services offered by commercial activities. These minimum standards will influence the plan. Conversely, if the minimum standards are not reasonable, this can often be addressed during development of the plan and the minimum standards then changed. Safety Yes or comment Meets FAA geometric standards Offers minimal opportunity for runway incursions Does not conflict with navigational aids Does not obstruct line-of-sight criteria Is not an airspace hazard Efficiency Maximize development space Will not cause conflicts between GA and air carrier traffic Does not cause conflicts between FBOs/SASOs Ground access is efficient and auto parking is available Service vehicles can maneuver easily Economics Benefit is worth the cost Reasonable funding plan is in place Offers reasonable opportunities for generating revenue Does not restrict competitive environment Expansion Layout of facilities provides for expansion Does not adversely degrade opportunity for expansion of nearby facilities Balance Facility plan is in balance with airfield design and runway/taxiway capability Each facility should be in balance with other facilities Facilities should be planned to meet existing and future requirements Consistency The plan is consistent with airport vision, community goals, and plans The plan is consistent with the ALP The plan should be consistent with the intent of FAA grant assurances The plan does not conflict with airport minimum standards Exhibit 4-1. GA facility development plan evaluation checklist.

36 Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning • FAA and state Grant Assurances. Airport sponsors make several assurances as a condition to receiving federal and state funds. The intent of these assurances is addressed in many of the principles and planning considerations discussed throughout this Guidebook. • Airport leases. The existing leases for facilities on an airport can play a large part in shaping the future of an airport. Often, the airport owner has to make do with what exists as opposed to tearing facilities down and building new expensive facilities. GA Services—Airport Ownership/Operation Models The ownership/operation models for GA services directly influence (1) the type, size, and location of planned facilities; and (2) the process and the extent to which facilities are planned and developed. These models include • Facilities owned and operated by the airport owner who also provides aircraft and pilot ser- vices at the airport. • Facilities owned by the airport owner and leased to a private firm that manages the services. • Some facilities owned by the airport owner and some by an FBO. • All facilities are FBO owned and operated. • The airport allows specialized aviation service operations (SASOs) for some activities (e.g., flight instruction, aircraft maintenance, charter, rental, aerial applications, and medical transport). • The airport typically allows SASOs for any of the airport operating models already listed. Airport owners often grant one or more FBOs or SASOs the right to conduct a commercial business on the airport and provide aeronautical services (e.g., tie-down and parking, fueling, hangaring, aircraft maintenance, aircraft rental, and flight instruction). FBOs and SASOs are often the primary provider of these services and are typically on leasehold property. Airports sometimes lease large tracts of land to FBOs and the FBO plans and develops the land for GA facilities within its leasehold. These facilities generally include a building with public/pilot service areas, offices, hangar(s), apron, and auto parking. FBOs sometimes lease space within an airport-owned GA terminal building and operate from there. Sometimes an airport owns all facilities and contracts with an FBO-like firm to provide services operating from the airport-owned facilities. Airport owners often develop a business plan for the airport to help guide what business model to pursue. ACRP Report 77: Guidebook for Developing General Aviation Airport Business Plans provides a good overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the various models. Planning Considerations In addition to the principles that make up a good GA facilities plan or in concert with those principles, some of the issues that need to be considered during GA facility planning include • Engineering challenges. Although addressed in detail during the design of facilities, chal- lenges should be anticipated during planning because they will affect the economic and physi- cal feasibility of a plan. Examples of engineering challenges are terrain and drainage. • Environmental impacts. Planned development will require environmental approvals, so the planner will need to consider the environmental impacts of the development and its opera- tion. Examples of impacts are noise on nearby residences, removal of wetlands, and auto traffic that increases air pollution. Regardless of which ownership/ operator model is used, GA facili- ties should be planned to meet the needs of the GA community. Also, airport owners should have control of the planning/layout of all facili- ties to ensure future expansion is not impeded.

General GA Facility Planning 37 • ALP conformance. Do not locate planned facilities where they will later have to be relocated. • Community acceptability. Public involvement and community input during planning is important. • Future revenue generation. Some facilities can generate revenue and this should be factored into planning. Examples of revenue opportunities are tie-down fees, hangar rentals, and FBO leases. • Airport safety and security. Clear guidance is available in several resource publications (see Appendix D). Pay particular attention to the possibility of increasing the opportunity for runway incursions. Avoid taxiing directly onto the runway. • Proximity to other facilities. Locate facilities so their operation does not conflict with other facilities. For example, do not put a fuel farm in the middle of a primary aircraft apron. • Airport traffic flow. Anticipate how the location of facilities will cause aircraft to taxi/maneuver throughout the airport. • Fleet mix. Anticipate the diversity in aircraft and assess how that will affect the location, sizing, and layout of facilities. • Sustainability. Consider how new facilities can best achieve sustainability goals. • Operational and maintenance requirements. Consider how facilities will actually be oper- ated and maintained. Involve airport operations and maintenance personnel in the planning. Anticipate the need for service vehicles. Will they be able to maneuver? • Utility requirements. Anticipate the need, location, and feasibility of utilities for the facilities being planned. Major new utilities may also need to be planned. • Constructability and phasing. Required construction methods and phasing may affect the feasibility of a plan. For example, if the construction of new facilities requires temporary clo- sure of a runway, can the airport handle the impact to airport users? • Navigational aid impacts. Many navigational aids have critical areas or visual paths that need to be kept clear of objects. • ARFF access. GA facilities should not impede aircraft/airport rescue and firefighting capabilities. • Minimum standards. Most airports have established minimum standards for operating com- mercial aeronautical activities. The planner should be familiar with those that relate to sizing of facilities such as hangars, FBO building, or special aviation service providers. • Wildlife hazards. The planner should be aware that new GA facilities (e.g. a water detention pond) may result in creation of wildlife hazards. • Grant assurances. Some FAA AIP grant assurances will affect the overall plan. • Aviation trends. Changes in the aviation industry can have a significant impact on the size, quantity, and type of facilities needed. Grant Assurances As a condition to receiving federal grants through FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), airport owners make several grant assurances that become local airport obligations. Air- port owners are typically referred to as airport “sponsors” when referring to grant issues. Some state funding programs also have grant assurances. Important federal obligations that flow from these grant assurances and that affect airport planning include • Economic nondiscrimination. Airports, their facilities, and services must be available on reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination. Each FBO at the airport should be sub- ject to the same rates, fees, rentals, and other charges as are uniformly applicable to all other FBOs making the same or similar uses of the airport and using the same or similar facilities. This grant obligation primarily relates to airport operation; however, it can affect the financial aspects of the planning of GA facilities. • Exclusive rights. Airport sponsors may provide certain services to airport users on an exclu- sive basis; however, sponsors may not permit an exclusive right for the use of the airport to

38 Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning any person providing, or intending to provide, aeronautical services to the public. FAA states in the grant assurance that the provision of aeronautical services at an airport by a single FBO is not construed as an exclusive right if (1) it would be unreasonably costly, burdensome, or impractical for more than one FBO to provide such services; and (2) if allowing more than one FBO to provide such services would require the reduction of space leased pursuant to an exist- ing agreement between the single FBO and the airport. This grant obligation and the model for providing airport services (i.e., airport owner vs. fixed-base operation) directly affect the planning of airport facilities. • Fee and rental structure. Airport sponsors must maintain a fee and rental structure for the facili- ties and services at the airport which will make it as self-sustaining as possible under the circum- stances existing at the particular airport, taking into account such factors as the volume of traffic and economy of collection. This grant obligation will affect the financial aspects of the planning of GA facilities. • Airport revenues. All revenue generated by the airport and any local taxes on aviation fuel established after December 30, 1987, should be used by the airport for the capital or operating costs of the airport. This grant obligation will affect the financial aspects of the planning of GA facilities. As an example, an airport sponsor cannot build a self-fueling facility and use the proceeds to help build or operate non-airport facilities for the community. • Airport Layout Plan. The airport owner must keep an ALP up to date at all times. The ALP, among other things, should show the location and nature of existing and proposed GA facili- ties. Further, the airport sponsor should not make or permit any changes or alterations to the airport facilities that are not in conformity with the FAA-approved ALP and that adversely affect the safety, utility, or efficiency of the airport. The preceding is only an overview of a few of the federal grant assurances. Airport sponsors and those planning airport facilities need to have a good understanding of how grant assurances relate to their airports. FAA offices that oversee grant obligations can help with this understand- ing if needed. Financing GA Facilities Financial planning is a critical part of GA facilities planning. A sound financial plan addresses both the capital funding of the facilities and their operation. It answers key questions such as: How will the capital costs be funded and is developing the plan financially feasible? Will the facilities promote positive economic development of the airport and community? Will the facili- ties help the airport be as self-sustaining as possible? Capital Funding of Airport Development Funding the development of GA facilities typically involves local, state, and federal funding, depending on the type of facility, the legislative authority of the state/federal programs, and the availability of funds. Key sources of funding for GA facilities follow: • FAA. FAA helps fund many of the GA facilities through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for airports in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). The AIP was enacted in 1982 and most recently reauthorized in 2012. The legislative authority for the types of facilities, types of airports, and type of funding (entitlement and discretionary) can change each time the AIP federal authorizing legislation changes. Airport sponsors and planners need to contact the local FAA offices that provide AIP grants to determine the current laws regard- ing eligibility and funding for GA facilities. The federal participation rate varies depending on

General GA Facility Planning 39 the type of airport and the current legislation. This rate has varied from 90 to 95 percent over the past several years at GA airports. • State funding. Airport owners and planners should contact the state aviation office that gov- erns the state airport programs to determine the requirements and opportunities for state funding of airport projects. Some states pay for half of the nonfederal costs of projects and some fund all of that cost. • Local funding. Local funds typically cover the cost of projects not funded with federal or state grants. This can be a substantial sum for projects not eligible for any federal or state grants. Sources of local funding might include general city/county funds or various bonds such as (1) general obligation bonds used for debt financing of capital development, (2) revenue bonds secured from the revenue generated from the specific development project, and (3) industrial development bonds issued to finance facilities that are in turn leased to a private entity or user at terms equal to the debt service of the bond. • Other funding sources. Some airports have been successful in obtaining economic develop- ment grants or loans for airport development. Some have received donations from private individuals or corporations for specific facilities such as a GA terminal building. GA air- ports that serve smaller aircraft rely heavily on private individual financing for non-eligible AIP improvements, particularly capital projects that can generate revenue for the airport. An example of the latter might be private hangars built on land the airport leases to the private individual or corporation. Airport Operating Budgets Good financial planning of GA facilities includes not only a capital funding plan but also anticipation of an operating budget that includes the revenue and expenses for the facilities. Principal elements that make up an airport’s revenues and expenses follow. (Whether a private developer or the airport owner builds and operates facilities such as hangars, many of these financial items apply to typical GA airports. These items apply to air carrier airports too but the airport operating budgets for those airports include many other items such as air carrier leases, landing fees, and large concession leases.) Revenues include • Fuel sales or fuel flowage fees received from private entity • Hangar rent • Tie-down rent • Ground rents and leases • Interest earnings • Miscellaneous revenue (e.g., penalty payments) Expenses include • Salaries and benefits for employees • Fuel purchases • Fuel flowage fees (an expense for private entities, paid to airport owner) • Professional and contract services • Utilities • Telecommunications • Office supplies • Repairs and maintenance services • Overhead • Insurance • Taxes

40 Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning Other items to consider in budgets are • Loan payments (principal and interest) • Federal and state grants • Capital project expenses • Fixed-asset depreciation Good financial planning normally includes preparation of a project pro forma which is a detailed projection of the effect of a project on the financial health of the airport. In other words, does it make good business sense to build the project and are the financial aspects positive enough to warrant third-party investment? A typical pro forma shows how the projected rev- enues (e.g., fuel, hangar rent, other rent, property tax, other) by year compare to expenses (e.g., salaries/benefits, fuel purchase, utilities, overhead) and other costs such as loan principle and loan interest. A preliminary pro forma is often prepared as part of a business plan and may be done prior to doing a detailed layout plan for specific GA facilities. Organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) provide guidance to airports regarding the financial aspects of airports and airport development. AOPA’s “Aircraft Hangar Development Guide” provides a sample hangar project pro forma analysis. GA Facility Planning GA facility planning is often done within the context of an airport master plan or update to the airport layout plan for the airport. It sometimes is done as a standalone effort for specific facilities. Regardless of how GA facility planning is done, the following ABC process can be used (see Exhibit 4-2). Phase A—Get Oriented The purpose of this first phase is to get oriented about how the GA facility plan fits into other airport planning activities, determine who the key players are, and become familiar with impor- tant documents that will govern the planning effort. Phase A complements the pre-planning and stakeholder involvement steps in the airport planning processes for an airport master plan or ALP update (see Chapter 3). Specific steps in Phase A include 1. Identify the airport’s vision and strategic goals, GA services and facilities at the airport, business plans, and how the GA facilities plan relates to any previous or ongoing planning work such as an airport master plan. 2. Identify the team members and stakeholders; adopt a framework for decision-making and approval. Team members or stakeholders that typically have input to a plan include the following: • Airport policymaking board • Airport management and staff • Airport advisory board and/or community groups • Consultant Exhibit 4-2. The ABC process. Get Oriented A Determine Needs B Adopt a Plan C

General GA Facility Planning 41 • Local architectural board • Airport tenants and user groups • Economic development agency • Chamber of commerce • Other local agencies 3. Adopt a community outreach and public involvement process to be used during the planning activities. This is a very important and ongoing process for some communities when planning GA development that includes a new access road and/or terminal building. Do not wait until the plan is finished to get buy-in from a local community. Involve the community during the planning process. The time to establish this process is during Phase A. This community outreach is the public involvement discussed in Chapter 3 during an airport master plan or ALP update. 4. Review the governing documents and important principles. 5. Inventory of existing facilities—where are we today? Phase B—Determine Needs The purpose of this phase is to determine the existing and future GA needs, desired ownership/ operation model (e.g., airport owner, FBO, SASO, private individuals, private developers, or a combination) and identify conceptually where facilities might be on the airport (broad indica- tion). Phase B complements several of the airport planning process steps outlined in Chapter 3. A critical step in any plan is to determine needs. Aviation forecasts developed during an airport master plan or ALP update provide indicators of future demand which has a direct correlation to GA planning. Chapter 5 provides more discussion and guidance on how to translate the needs for specific GA facilities into efficient layouts. Specific steps in Phase B include 1. Identify GA forecasts and other activity indicators for the airport. It is important that FAA generally agrees with the forecasts when they drive future federal funding. 2. Determine the desired ownership/operation model. If an area will be developed by an FBO, the FBO will often determine the sizing and layout of the facilities. 3. Determine facility requirements and size/location of each facility (see Chapter 5 for more guidance). 4. Conceptual plan—identify possible areas for various functions. The conceptual plan can vary significantly. Some airports have ‘greenfield’ opportunities for development. Others are very constrained and various functional areas are well-established. These functional areas might include terminal/aircraft parking, aircraft hangar storage, aircraft servicing (e.g., wash racks and self-fueling), and airport administration/maintenance facilities. Phase C—Adopt the Plan 1. Identify alternatives for GA facility layouts. 2. Evaluate the alternatives (using principles and considerations discussed earlier in this chapter and Chapter 3). 3. Adopt the plan following a process established in Phase A. 4. Prepare a financial plan for the adopted alternative. Indicators of Activity that Drive GA Facility Planning The following activities drive the need for facilities: • Number and type of existing and forecast based aircraft. The Airplane Design Group and quantity directly affect apron needs, hangar size, and fueling capacity needs.

42 Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning • Hangar inventory and waiting lists. Waiting lists sometimes can be overly inflated when per- sons on the list do not have a financial investment involved (e.g., a deposit). • Tenant interviews. • Itinerant activity. Talk to corporations in the community to determine their needs. Also, facil- ity needs for itinerant aircraft can be significant for resort areas and large metropolitan areas with major convention facilities. • Fuel sales. • Activity at neighboring airports. • Activity forecasts. • Existing and planned airfield infrastructure (e.g., runway length). • Industry trends and forecasts of types of aircraft and ownership models. • Planned critical aircraft.

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Report 113: Guidebook on General Aviation Facility Planning provides guidance for planning airport facilities that accommodate general aviation aircraft. The guidance is designed to help airport practitioners plan flexible and cost-effective facilities that are responsive to industry needs.

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