Strategic Futuring of Airports and their Role in the U.S. Airport System

Airports began providing needed transportation of people and goods at a time when the U.S. highway system infrastructure was quite different, and air travel made the most sense for moving between cities. Today’s aviation system has evolved over multiple decades, resulting in a patchwork of regulations and associated expectations that haven’t always been stitched together cohesively. With the benefit of hindsight, it is time to look at the relationships of those expectations. Now airports are expected to be engines of economic development, facilitators of economic justice, and models of environmental stewardship all while meeting customer expectations and supporting the needs of the community within a framework developed 75 years ago. The aviation industry has reached an inflection point, and now is time to reflect on the past and strategically plan for the future. A crystal ball cannot reveal the future of aviation, but there are systematic approaches for identifying a vision. Planning for the future requires understanding where the industry has been and how it has arrived at this point. There is a need for an analysis of the history of airport legislation, regulations, and programs as a method for understanding how airports can support the future of aviation. The objective of this research is a report that identifies the role of airports in supporting the future of aviation. This report will consider the structure of the U.S. airport system, and individual airports and their relationships with and effects upon citizens, the environment, and local communities. The report will have three parts. Part 1 will be a summary of the history and rationale of legislation, regulations or programs affecting airports and the airport system. An analysis should be conducted that includes the benefits and consequences (intended and unintended) on local communities, states, and the national aviation system of the following elements (at a minimum): grant assurances; funding (e.g., PFC, AIP, bonds); environmental requirements (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), noise, environmental management systems); civil rights (e.g., Diverse Business Enterprise (DBE), small business); airport governance; and air service programs (e.g., Essential Air Service (EAS), Open Skies). Part 2 will be the results and outcomes of the futuring exercise. Part 3 will identify the issues, challenges, and opportunities that will need further considerations for achieving the future of aviation. It will also include recommended research.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $650000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 01-52

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Greenberger, Marci

  • Performing Organizations:

    Rand Corporation

    1700 Main Street, P.O. Box 2138
    Santa Monica, CA  United States  90401-2138
  • Principal Investigators:

    Ecola, Liisa

  • Start Date: 20220601
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240111
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01836061
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 01-52
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Feb 17 2022 11:06AM