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SUMMARY Guidebook for Managing Small Airports The objective of this project was to develop a guidebook for managing small airports that would be a single source of information for airport owners, operators, managers, and policy makers. The challenge lay in creating a guidebook that addresses an extraordinarily wide range of topics as succinctly as possible and that is relevant to an extremely diverse audience while presenting information in an easy-to-use manner. Managers of small airports are responsible for a broad range of activities and interact with a variety of stakeholders on a daily basis. They must carry out their duties in accordance with an array of federal, state, and local regulations and ordinances. Many small airports operate under fiscally constrained circumstances that require maximizing scarce resources and uti- lizing county or municipal employees to perform certain functions, including snow removal, mowing, and pavement maintenance. Very few small airport managers are trained in aviation management. They are hired or volunteer for the job because of an interest in or a passion for aviation. Many small airports have no airport manager, but rather are managed by elected or appointed local officials, such as a city clerk or a director of public works. There is a great deal of published information pertaining to the management and opera- tion of airports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other government agencies have produced many publications relevant to airports, most of them regulatory in nature. State aviation offices also publish information for maintaining and operating airports within their jurisdictions. Over the years, many books have been written on the various aspects of managing airports. However, it can be difficult for managers of small airports to find the time to locate these publications and determine which parts of each publication are germane to the particular problem that needs to be solved. To determine the most common issues facing small airports throughout the United States, the research team conducted an extensive literature review from which a survey was developed and administered to small airport managers via the Internet. Based on the results of the liter- ature review and survey, the research team developed an outline for this guidebook around the most frequently identified issues and problems for small airports. The research team also attempted to capture unique or innovative practices already in use at small airports. Perhaps the most significant finding of the project is that small airport managers possess a wealth of practical information and, in general, are more than willing to share that knowledge with fellow airport managers. Consequently, often the best source of information for a manager of a small airport is the manager of the neighboring small airport. The result of this project is a guidebook that addresses many of the topics related to manag- ing small airports. This guidebook is an excellent source of information and current practices. 1

OCR for page 1
2 Guidebook for Managing Small Airports However, because of the diversity of small airports, both in terms of geography and size, and the ever-changing regulatory environment, it cannot be considered a single authoritative source. The intent of the guidebook, therefore, is to provide the reader with information on a subject and, more important, direction for finding additional information. Guidebooks by their very nature are static. They represent the collective knowledge of a subject at a given point in time. The aviation industry, on the other hand, is extremely dynamic. As the air transportation system evolves, the challenges faced by small airport managers will change--and so too must the guidance provided to them. The research team encourages small airport managers to continually update their individual guidebooks with notes and additional materials, and to freely share that knowledge with other small airport managers.