What are the specific objectives of the Airport Master Plan?

  • To research factors likely to affect all air transportation demand segments in the City of Fort Smith as well as the greater Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) over the next twenty years. The analysis will include the development of forecasts of airline passengers, air cargo shipments, general aviation activity, and military demand elements;
  • To determine projected needs of airport users for the next twenty years factoring: recent revisions to FAA airfield geometrical design standards, global positioning system (GPS) Next Generation (NexGen) approaches or other new technology, the impact of commercial and general aviation fleet transitions on design standards, and on−going efforts to improve commercial service to the community.
  • To recommend improvements that will satisfy future airline, air cargo, and general aviation Commercial airline passenger enhancements will also be considered with recommendations to provide terminal building spaces, auto parking, and rental car facility improvements;
  • To analyze the existing airfield system to determine the existing and ultimate runway length required to satisfy the airport’s critical aircraft now and into the future;
  • To produce accurate base maps of existing and proposed facilities and updated Airport Layout Plan (ALP) drawings consistent with the FAA’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) No. 2.0.
  • To establish a schedule of development priorities and a program for improvements proposed in the master plan, consistent with the FAA’s capital improvement program planning.
  • Consider sustainability efforts, specifically waste and recycling improvements as part of FAA’s updated standards.
  • To explore development potential of the entire airport including the potential for non-aviation developments to diversify and grow the airport’s revenue base.
  • To analyze the airport’s financial conditions to outline funding capabilities for future capital projects.

What are Aviation Demand Forecasts?

Airport facility planning relies, in part, on a definition of the future aviation activity that may reasonably be expected to occur during the useful life of the airport’s key components.  In airport master planning, this involves projecting potential aviation activity for a 20-year timeframe.  Aviation demand forecasting for Fort Smith Regional Airport will consider commercial passenger service projections, based aircraft forecasts, and aircraft operational activity projections.

FAA has oversight responsibility to review and approve aviation forecasts developed in conjunction with airport planning studies.  The FAA will review individual airport forecasts with the objective of comparing them to its own Terminal Area Forecasts (TAF) and the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).  In addition, aviation activity forecasts may be an important input to future benefit-cost analyses associated with airport development; FAA reviews these analyses when federal funding requests are submitted.

What is an Airport Layout Plan (ALP)?

The ALP is an important component of the Airport Master Plan and will reflect the actual and/or planned modifications to the Airport.  FAA approval of the ALP indicates that the existing facilities and proposed development depicted on the ALP conforms to the FAA airport design standards and that the FAA finds the proposed development to be safe and efficient.

An ALP can be described as one big “blueprint.”  It is a single, two-dimensional plan-view drawing of an airport that shows existing and proposed airport facilities.  Additional pages of drawings in the ALP set may include: Terminal/Building Area Plans, Airspace Plans, Property Maps, and on-airport Land Use Maps.

The ALP is the major product of the Airport Master Plan which contains information used by the FAA to program future funding assistance and to monitor an airport’s compliance with design standards and grant assurances.  It also allows the FAA to anticipate budgetary and procedural needs and to protect the airspace required for facility or aircraft approach procedure improvements.

Why is Fort Smith Regional Airport completing an Airport Master Plan?

The FAA recommends that public use airports prepare a new Airport Master Plan every 7-10 years or as local aviation conditions change.  The previous Master Plan was completed in 2006.  Therefore, the Fort Smith Airport Commission has initiated this Airport Master Plan to ensure the airport continues to be operated in a safe and efficient manner and to address any changes in the aviation industry both locally and nationally.

Who is preparing the Airport Master Plan?

Following a qualifications-based selection process, Coffman Associates, Inc. was selected to undertake the Airport Master Plan study.  Coffman Associates is a national aviation consulting firm specializing in airport planning studies.  Coffman Associates will lead the project with support from the following firms:

  • Morrison-Shipley | Engineering support primarily to provide local knowledge and history of the airport as well as providing estimates of probable costs and an airport-wide stormwater drainage plan;
  • McClelland Consulting Engineers  – Engineering support primarily to conduct field survey services for the airports GIS submittal;
  • DKMG | Financial services including benefit/cost evaluations and a financial feasibility of future capital/maintenance programs; and,
  • MTZ Geospatial | Aerial photography, ground survey, and GIS products to meet FAA 5300-18B requirements for Airports GIS data submittal.
  • Applied Pavement Technology – Airfield pavement condition evaluation and management plan

Who is funding the Airport Master Plan?

The FAA provides 90 percent of the project funding, with the remaining 10 percent coming from the Fort Smith Airport Commission.  The FAA funding is sourced from the Aviation Trust Fund, which is funded exclusively by various aviation user fees, including taxes on airline tickets, aviation fuel, and some aircraft parts.

Who approves the Airport Master Plan?

The Airport Master Plan will be approved by the Fort Smith Airport Commission. Once the Commission has approved the Airport Master Plan, the Airport Master Plan can be used as a policy document that sets forth the conceptual framework for possible future airport development.  However, any actual or planned modifications to the airport that is reflected in the Airport Master Plan, but is not reflected in the accompanying ALP, will require an ALP update prior to the Commission’s examination of any proposed development item.

What is the FAA’s role in the Airport Master Plan?

The FAA has two official roles during the Airport Master Plan study:

  • FAA reviews and approves the aviation forecasts (the projected growth of airport services) that will be prepared as part of the master plan process; and
  • FAA formally approves the ALP for airspace and design standards.

In addition, the FAA has a supportive and advisory role during the preparation of the Airport Master Plan. The FAA may provide comments on Airport Master Plan findings, recommendations and deliverables, and may offer technical assistance and support. The FAA does not formally approve the Airport Master Plan since it is considered a local policy or guidance document.

Are Additional Studies Needed Before the Airport Proceeds with a Recommended Construction Project?

Yes.  Approval by the FAA of the ALP means only that there are no safety concerns related to the proposed Airport Master Plan and that the depiction is in general conformance with FAA standards.  Additional studies may be necessary before a project depicted on the Master Plan is implemented.  At a minimum, these usually include NEPA documentation (as discussed in the FAQ above), and any other studies needed to satisfy required permit applications.


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