Capacity Needs in the National Airspace System 2007-2025: An Analysis of Airports and Metropolitan Area Demand and Operational Capacity in the Future

In 2003, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) convened a team to begin the Future Airport Capacity Task (FACT). The team was led by the FAA’s Airports organization (ARP) and included representatives from the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) and the MITRE Corporation’s Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD). FACT is an assessment of the future capacity of the Nation’s airports and metropolitan areas. Its goal is to determine which airports and metropolitan areas have the greatest need for additional capacity. By embarking on this initiative, the FAA wanted to assure that the long-term capacity of the U.S. aviation system matched forecasts of demand. This document is the first update to the original study, Capacity Needs in the National Airspace System, An Analysis of Airport and Metropolitan Area Demand and Operational Capacity in the Future (FACT 1), published in 2004. This update is called FACT 2. In response to comments received about the original study, the FACT 2 report provides more transparency in the methodology and analysis. It includes updated data, revised timeframes, and refined analytical methods. Further, specific results and assumptions were shared with those airports identified from the analysis to gather additional input that might impact the findings. Both FACT studies began with an analysis of 291 commercial service airports (the 35 airports, primarily the Nation’s large hubs, contained in the Operational Evolution Plan (OEP), and an additional 256 commercial service airports) as well as 223 metropolitan areas across the county. Based on this initial analysis, the team identified 56 airports for more detailed study (the 35 OEP airports and 21 non-OEP airports). The non-OEP airports were identified using conservative assumptions about fleet mix and airport operations to estimate potential capacity constraints at the individual airport or within a metropolitan area. The same 56 airports were analyzed in both FACT studies. Appendix A provides a list of these airports. The study also identified multiple metropolitan areas, described in Appendix B, which may also face potential capacity constraints. Traffic in the National Airspace System (NAS) was modeled using projections of future enplanements and operations from two different sources: the FAA’s Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) and CAASD’s experimental model of origin and destination traffic. The TAF assesses traffic on an airport-by-airport basis based on the economic and demographic characteristics of the airport metropolitan area. CAASD’s model also assesses traffic based on economic and demographic trends. Unlike the TAF, however, the CAASD model produces forecasts of traffic for individual pairs of origin and destination metropolitan areas. Socio-economic trend information, including changes in demographics, income, market power, and other factors, were considered as part of this analysis. Passenger demand was estimated as originating in, or traveling to, a metropolitan area rather than just a specific airport. This passenger demand was then translated into airport operations through a route selection process (direct or via a third airport) and by determining the correct aircraft fleet necessary to handle the passenger traffic. This additional estimate of future traffic levels was then utilized as part of the demand/capacity analysis (see Appendix D for a detailed explanation of the methodology used in this analysis). The FACT 2 analysis identified a significant number of U.S. airports that can be expected to require additional capacity in the future if demand reaches forecast levels. This finding not only highlights the importance of moving forward with current improvement plans, and keeping such plans on schedule, but seeking new solutions to add even more capacity than is currently planned.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; Tables;
  • Pagination: 50p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01054004
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 20 2007 9:57AM