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FAA Launches Second Phase Of General Aviation Airports Study
By Daniel Baxter

February 13, 2013 - The FAA is beginning the second phase of its general aviation (GA) study issued last spring, General Aviation Airports: A National Asset, to further define the role of GA airports. 

In the original study, the FAA captured the critical and diverse roles of the nation’s 2,952 general aviation airports, which resulted in four new categories national, regional, local, and basic. 

However, while completing the study, the FAA learned that more than 497 airports did not clearly fit into any of the categories. Therefore, the agency committed to resume its work with airport sponsors, state aeronautic divisions, and industry to gather additional information on these airports.


General aviation airports provide civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport operations for hire. General aviation flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to corporate jet flights. The majority of the world's air traffic falls into this category, and most of the world's airports serve general aviation exclusively.

The categories are a tool to help the FAA and state aeronautical agencies make more consistent planning decisions for the nation’s GA airports. They reflect the current aviation activity at GA airports, such as the number and type of based aircraft, the number of passenger boardings, and the type of flights. Airports in the national category give communities access to national and international markets.

Regional airports connect communities to statewide and interstate markets. Local airports provide access to intrastate and interstate markets.  Finally, basic airports link communities with the national airport system and support general aviation activities.



The first study revealed the many functions the majority of GA airports provide, such as medical, search and rescue, disaster relief, aerial firefighting, law enforcement, remote community access, commercial and industrial activity, flight instruction, and air cargo. Now, the FAA is working with its state partners, the individual airport, and the GA community to better define an appropriate category for them. The FAA anticipates issuing an addendum to the study in December with this new information.

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