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NBAA Provides Input to FAA on Airport Design Standards
July 13, 2012
NBAA recently submitted formal comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding airport design standards. The FAA is updating Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5300-13A, Airport Design, which provides guidelines and specifications for materials and methods used in construction of airports, as well as in upgrades to existing airports.
“We want to ensure that airport design standards take into account the needs of business aviation to operate safely and efficiently at our nation’s airports,” said Jeff Gilley, NBAA’s director, airports & ground infrastructure. “We commend the FAA on its efforts to update design standards, but at the same time we want to make sure that the unique requirements of business and general aviation are adequately addressed in the final document.”
Gilley noted that compliance with the advisory circular is mandatory for all airports that receive Airport Improvement Program funding for projects, as well as those that get revenue from the Passenger Facility Charge Program.
In response to the FAA’s request for comments on the draft advisory circular, NBAA provided a number of technical suggestions to the agency. The Association encouraged retention of an existing 40:1 departure surface for use by airports to identify those obstacles that have an operational impact on instrument flight rule departures for possible corrective action. However, NBAA opposed the use of the 40:1 departure surface standard to reduce the length of otherwise usable runway for takeoff to ensure that this surface is entirely clear of obstructions.
The Association also expressed concern with the effect that compliance with runway safety area and runway object-free area standards has had on smaller general aviation reliever airports.
NBAA’s Gilley noted that Georgia’s Peachtree-Dekalb Airport (PDK) and Texas’ Addison Airport (ADS) are examples of the negative impact that the FAA’s application of reduced declared distances to meet RSA requirements has had on the utility of affected runways.
“While NBAA supports the need for adequate safety areas surrounding a runway, we nevertheless expressed concern that the design standards for these safety areas may be overly protective for runways used primarily by smaller business jets,” said Gilley.
Gilley noted that Addison Airport’s Runway 15-33 has displaced thresholds on both runway ends due to obstructions, with Runway 15 currently displaced 979 feet from the physical end of the runway. NBAA has written local airport and FAA officials in support of the integration of an engineered materials arresting system on the departure end of Runway 15 at Addison to improve the safety of operations and regain runway length lost with the current displaced runway threshold.
Noting the importance of airport design standards on business aviation, NBAA’s Gilley said, “We look forward to working together with the FAA in revising airport design technical standards to best accommodate and enhance safe business aviation operations at airports across the country.”