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Forecasting in Aviation and Airport Planning

Levels of Forecasting
Demand estimates are prepared for a variety of reasons in aviation. Broad, large scale aggregated macroforecasts
are made by aircraft and equipment manufacturers, aviation trade organizations, government agencies, and others
to estimate the market requirements for aviation equipment, trends in travel, personal needs, air traffic control
requirements, and other factors. Similarly, forecasts are made on a smaller scale to examine these needs in
particular regions of an area and at specific airports.
In economics, forecasting is done on two levels, macroforecasting and microforecasting, and the same holds true
in aviation. From the inception of the planning process for an airport, consideration is given to both levels. In
airport planning, the designer must view the entire airport system as well as the airport under immediate
consideration. Macroforecasts are forecasts of the total aviation activity in a large region such as a country, state,
or metropolitan area. Microforecasts deal with the activity at individual airports or on individual routes.
Microforecasts for an airport planning address such variables as the number of originations, passenger origindestination traffic, number of enplaned passengers, and number of aircraft operations by air carrier and general
aviation aircraft at an airport.
In macroforecasting, the entire system of airports is examined relative to the geographic, economic, industrial, and
growth characteristics of a region to determine the location and nature of airport needs in a region. In
microforecasting, there are quite a few variables of significance. The forecast of each variable is quite important
because it ultimately determines the size requirements of the facilities that will be necessary to accommodate

Types of Airport Planning Studies

Many different types of studies are performed in aviation and airport planning. These include studies related to
facility planning, financial planning, traffic and markets, economics, and the environment. However, each of these
studies can usually be classified as being performed at one each of three levels: the system planning level, the
master planning level or the project planning level.

Elements of an Airport Planning Study

Airport planning efforts draw widespread interest from interest from citizens, community organizations, airport
users, areawide planning agencies, and conservation groups. If these groups are not used in a coordinated,
consultative, and advisory role at critical stages in the plan development, the plan will likely be unsuccessful
when it is presented to the public.
The content of an airport plan varies in both level of detail and specified requirements depending upon the type of
planning effort undertaken.
The initial step in the preparation of the plan is the collection of data on existing airport facilities, relevant
aviation issues and areawide planning efforts. State and regional transportation authorities should be consulted for
they may be sources of valuable data. A key source of data, especially for airport traffic volumes, is the FAA.

An airport plan must be developed on the basis of forecasts. From forecasts of demand, the performance and
operational effectiveness of the various airport facilities can be evaluated. Forecasts are usually needed for the
short, intermediate, and long range, approximately 5, 10 and 20 years.
Analysis of capacity and delay
The determination of the capacity, delay, and processing times associated with several viable alternative schemes
for the improvement of existing airports or the development of new ones is an essential step in airport planning.
Facility requirements
The general location of various types of airport facilities and the requirements for runways, taxiways, aprons,
terminals, cargo and servicing facilities, roadways and parking at the various sites are developed from an analysis
of the demand and capacity requirements and from geometric and other standards governing the design of airport
Evaluation criteria
The various development alternatives should be evaluated with respect to operational capability, capacity
potential, ground access, development costs, environmental consequences, socio-economic factors, and
consistency with areawide planning activities.
Airport site selection

Type of development of the surrounding area

Atmospheric conditions
Accessibility to ground transport
Availability of land for expansion
Presence of other airports and availability of airspace in the area
Surrounding obstructions
Economy of construction
Proximity to aeronautical demand