Evaluating Methods for Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports

Aircraft operations counts are used in aviation systems planning, airport master plans, environmental studies, aviation forecasts, as well as to determine funding and design criteria for the nation's airports. At airports with control towers, aircraft operations are tracked and recorded by air traffic control. However, of the more than 5,300 public use airports in the United States, only 546 have towers, and most of the towered airports are not open at all times. This results in airports having to estimate operations counts, which, in the case of non-full-time towers, can result in potential undercounting. Airports, as well as state and metropolitan planning agencies, use various methods to estimate aircraft activity when tower counts are not available. The most common methods have traditionally relied on guest logs, fuel sales, visual observation, automatic counters, and acoustical counters. Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 4: Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports (published in 2007) described the different methods of counting and estimating aircraft operations, and provided an initial recommendation for best practices. The study, however, was completed prior to recent advances in technology (such as the use of video data capturing devices) and, due to its limited scope, did not include a program to test the different methods. Research is needed to identify, test, and evaluate the various methods for obtaining aircraft operations counts at non-towered airports. This should be done in a manner that will help airports select the most appropriate method for their needs. The objective of this research is to identify, test, and evaluate methods for obtaining aircraft operations counts at non-towered airports.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $400000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 03-27

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Performing Organizations:

    Woolpert, Incorporated

    3800 Fernandina Road, Suite 100
    Columbia, SC    29210-3838
  • Principal Investigators:

    Muia, Maria

  • Start Date: 20111121
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20141128
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37940

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01545898
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 03-27
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 27 2014 1:00AM