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ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25399.
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92 Key Insights Effective communication strategies have three primary components: audience identification, message crafting, and consensus building among participants. Working in a collaborative manner that fosters open communication and an environment in which disagreement is respected will help build consensus among stakeholders. The key stakeholders in an airport’s obstruction management program will vary based on the airport’s location and surrounding development. It is better to invite potential stakeholders to participate with an option to decline than to omit potentially interested stakeholders. Working toward consensus requires an open environment where disagreement is respected. Key Definitions Collaboration: Working together toward a solution and recognizing everyone’s ideas and interests. Consensus: An overwhelming agreement, not unanimous agreement. Stakeholder: A person, group, or organization that has an interest or concern in an orga- nization. Stakeholders can affect or be affected by the organization’s action, objects, and policies. 8.1 Developing a Communication Strategy for Obstruction Management The areas in which airports need to manage obstructions extend well beyond airport prop- erty. Thus, airport sponsors typically need to work with multiple stakeholders that have differ- ing priorities. Consensus building and conflict resolution are useful tools for airport sponsors to employ to educate stakeholders and work toward mutually beneficial solutions for airport obstruction management challenges. Airport obstruction management is a technical and complicated subject. To understand an airport’s needs and requirements, the nonairport community needs plain language and edu- cation and outreach efforts from subject matter experts. The task of establishing a baseline C H A P T E R 8 Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management

Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management 93 understanding of obstruction management requirements and airspace protection needs and communicating these to an audience of varying backgrounds and knowledge levels is complex but critical. When communicating technical information to an audience of non-subject-matter experts, how the message is conveyed is just as important as the information itself. The objective is to understand the perspective of the audience receiving the message from the following standpoint: • What do they want? • What do they need? • How does obstruction management impact their daily activities? • What do they stand to lose or gain from a particular obstruction management issue? If airport sponsors are able to understand the outside stakeholders’ perspective and their objectives and constraints, sponsors and stakeholders can work jointly toward a win-win approach. This is the foundation of developing and maintaining consensus. A consensus-building communication strategy has three primary components: (1) identifying the appropriate audience, (2) crafting the message, and (3) building consensus among partici- pants. This chapter examines each of these components in detail and how they work together to form a comprehensive communication strategy for obstruction management. Airport obstruction management consensus building is best accomplished when it can occur in a proactive manner before an issue arises; however, many times it is used in a reactive situation. Reactive obstruction management is responding to a proposed new structure, alter- ation to an existing structure, or an FAA notice to an airport of substantial adverse effects on a particular airspace segment, such as from growing vegetation that requires timely involvement by the airport. In a reactive situation, the airport sponsor should, at a minimum, reach out to the struc- ture proponent representative and, as applicable, engage the local and state staff responsible for airport and airspace protection and any airport tenants and users that may be affected by the proposal. Additionally, if the notification of the proposal is received via an FAA communication (e.g., circularization of an aeronautical study), the airport sponsor should also reach out to the appropriate FAA air traffic organization and Airports district office staff. In the outreach to the FAA, the airport sponsor should ask to receive guidance on next steps and engage the FAA authorities in seeking potential solutions to avoid or mitigate the proposal’s impacts. 8.2 Identifying the Audience Stakeholder Identification The first step in developing an obstruction management communication strategy is establish- ing which stakeholders have interests that will be impacted and/or need to be engaged to resolve the matter. For the majority of airports, there are several categories of stakeholders that may need to be engaged regarding obstruction management issues. These stakeholders could include on- and off-airport interests, such as the following: • Airport tenants • Airport users (e.g., air carriers, charter operators, aviation businesses) • Adjacent local government representatives • Local government planning, zoning, or legal affairs staff • Airport-adjacent property owners

94 Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook • Realtors • Real estate developers • Construction companies • Crane operators • Hotel operators • Utility companies • Environmental and historical preservation watchdogs and interest groups • General public Audience identification for proactive obstruction management can be a more comprehen- sive process. Whereas reactive obstruction management tends to have defined stakeholders, proactive obstruction management involves establishing tools to minimize future airspace obstruction issues and addressing any existing airspace obstruction issues. Also, after reaching an initial agreement with stakeholders, proactive obstruction management involves an ongo- ing commitment from all involved stakeholders to abide by the agreements. In identifying key participants in proactive obstruction management program development, the airport or its sponsor must answer the following: • Which interest groups, authorities, or entities have a critical impact on or will be fundamen- tally affected by the implementation of obstruction management at the airport or a failure to implement obstruction management? The identified stakeholders may go far beyond those listed above; the list needs to be inclusive to maintain program support and resiliency to challenges. • Will the identified stakeholder contribute to the process or stand to gain something from being involved in this process? Airport management must be mindful of the mutual gain dynamic of this process and seek to identify ways to capitalize on mutual gains from the onset. If the airport is unable to clearly identify the benefit of participating in program develop- ment or implementation to a particular stakeholder, reaching consensus could be more problematic. • Is the identified stakeholder represented exclusively, or do the entity’s interests receive sufficient support through another stakeholder interest group? Interests that may be represented through an inclusive interest group may not require additional, separate representation. • Do the identified individual stakeholders sufficiently and authoritatively represent the larger stakeholder interest and have vested powers to make decisions on behalf of the overall group? The authority of participants in the process must be clearly established in order to avoid entanglement in two-table negotiation dynamics—where group representatives may not have exclusive decision-making authority on behalf of the stakeholder group leadership—that lead to the protraction of negotiation and consensus building. In stakeholder identification, engaging larger interest groups that represent particular stake- holder interests on a federal or state level (e.g., the National Audubon Society, the Urban Land Institute, etc.) may be advantageous. If the larger entities are not interested in participating, they will be likely to assist in identifying local entities that will participate. While airport sponsors need to be aware of and understand existing local regulations and enforcement mechanisms to prevent impacts on the navigable airspace by either structures or vegetation, many of the stakeholders in the obstruction management process do not encounter these matters as a part of their regular duties. Therefore, to effectively monitor and prevent impacts and protect the facility from encroachment, airport sponsors need to communicate obstruction management concerns to relevant stakeholders. While state or local airport and airspace protection criteria may provide a degree of protection, in the absence of strong regula- tions or enforcement, airport sponsors will be required to rely more heavily on education and

Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management 95 stakeholder engagement tools to achieve cooperation from the community and protect the facility and its navigable airspace. When identifying the appropriate stakeholders to engage with in matters of reactive or proactive obstruction management, it is critical to establish that the stakeholders being engaged can represent the interests of an overall group of stakeholders and/or that the engaged stakeholders have the authority to make decisions on behalf of their organization. When negotiating an agreement or reaching a consensus on an issue, stakeholder repre- sentatives who may not sufficiently represent the interests of the overall group or may not have the appropriate decision-making authority, may lead to a “two-table negotiations” scenario. In this scenario, when consensus is reached on a particular issue, each individual stakeholder representative carries the consensus outcome to internal decision-makers for approval. If the stakeholder representative lacks the vested authority to negotiate consensus on the group’s behalf, achieving and maintaining the conditions of the consensus becomes problematic at best. Airports should carefully vet the engaged stakeholders to determine the likelihood that their representatives have the appropriate functional authority to negotiate consensus on the group’s or entity’s behalf. Communicating Obstruction Effects to Decision-Makers Identifying the important decision-makers in a community is key to making sure an airport’s positions are effectively heard. Community decision-makers are likely to include local and/or regional elected officials and members of the planning or zoning board. When delivering a message on airport obstruction management to the decision-maker audi- ence, the airport should focus on the airport’s beneficial role in the community (e.g., transpor- tation node, emergency response resource and staging area, etc.), fiscal and economic impacts on the community, and long-term airport development goals. The members of this stakeholder group are keenly focused on the financial bottom line. If the airport sponsor has quantified the economic impact of the airport for the community, it is a valuable tool to use with this stake- holder group. When communicating about the financial aspects of airport obstruction management, an airport sponsor should communicate that protecting the airport and airspace from encroach- ment is an important part of federal and many state grant assurances and an airport may incur Communicating with Stakeholders on Obstruction Management Issues The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) has developed a succinct communications toolkit for addressing airport encroachment. The toolkit includes a robust communications plan that separates relevant information into audience-specific categories: realtors, construction companies, crane and gas well operators, and the general public. With the absence of state laws related to such matters as noise disclosure, NCTCOG has long recognized the importance of communicating airport value to nonairport stakeholders. Therefore, the organization has been more proactive in stakeholder outreach in airport and airspace protection.

96 Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook a direct cost if there is a violation. Also, in addition to obstruction management assisting the airport sponsor in avoiding costs, an economic impact study can be used to assist in commu- nicating the positive value of the airport as a community asset. If the airport does not have an existing or recent economic impact study, and creating a new one is not an option, Airports Council International–North America has many national, state and regional economic impact studies, such as The Economic Impact of Civil Aviation on the U.S. Economy by the FAA (Office of Performance Analysis, FAA 2015). The airport staff should reach out to the state aeronautics agency, regional planning entities or councils, or the state economic development authorities to check for the existence of a local or statewide economic impact study, if one was not created locally. Many state aeronautics or regional planning agencies (e.g., NCTCOG) also conduct periodic analyses that may support the airport’s position. If the airport provides services to air carrier or charter operators, engaging them early in the outreach process presents an oppor- tunity to use their expertise and fiscal impact calculations to assist the airport in obstruction management. Many of those organizations employ professional government relations staff that will have the appropriate skill and resource set to communicate the airport users’ concerns to decision-makers. If a proposed action will result in an obstruction that could lead to operational limitations, loss of a tenant or operator, etc., the airport should stress the direct and indirect economic impacts of that action. Key Strategies for Working with Planning or Zoning Staff and Cross-Jurisdictional Coordination Navigating state and local land use zoning regulations can be a daunting task for airports and nonaviation stakeholders. Depending on a state’s statutory provisions, airports implementing airport obstruction management or reacting to an airspace impact can either rely on strict zon- ing regulations or be hampered by the lack of such regulations. If such regulations exist, the zoning or land development ordinances for the particular local jurisdiction will determine the extent of and govern implementation of airport and airspace protection. While the federal gov- ernment has sovereign authority over airspace and the FAA is charged with implementing safety and efficiency measures, the ultimate authority to implement provisions that allow, limit, or prohibit development that may affect airspace lies with local governments. The local govern- ment land use planning or zoning staff has the executive authority to oversee those processes Communicating the Financial Aspects of Airport Obstructions to Community Leaders When making the case to surrounding communities, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority emphasizes its role as a key economic engine for the community. Airport representatives, with the assistance of airlines, routinely take the time to explain the effect an impact on a particular surface (e.g., OEI surface) may have. In its presentation, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority representatives describe the impact of a proposed obstruction, detailing how the obstruction would reduce air carrier passenger or cargo loads, range of service, and safety of operation if it encroached upon a particular airspace segment.

Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management 97 and are a key stakeholder in obstruction management implementation. Local government websites will be the best source for up-to-date zoning ordinance information and contact information for responsible officials. Local planning or zoning officials can serve as a highly valuable asset for an airport sponsor because they can assist in obstruction management through enforcement of federal provisions and state regulations pertaining to airspace protection. However, for obstruction management, proactive engagement or early problem detection is key. For this reason, ongoing, informal, staff-level discussions with planners on future airport plans, issues, and concerns will help keep lines of communication open and friendly. During these discussions, airport staff has the opportunity to educate the planning and zoning staff about matters related to obstruction management and how airspace protection affects local policies or projects that may be under con- sideration. Airports that have developed ALPs or, especially, three-dimensional imaginary surface maps should provide the maps or any updates thereto for use and reference by local government staff. Relationships with and outreach to the policy implementers are more crucial for states that lack robust airport protec- tion zoning regulations. The airport staff should check the state aeronautics site for resources and guidance (as well as visual aids) that describe the nature of state airport protection zoning regulations. For example, the Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Division offers an aviation eco- nomic impact calculator on its site for reference by state users. When presenting a case against airspace or airport encroachment to local government staff, the airport staff should be specific regarding actual impacts. Those may include impacts to safety, airport and air carrier capacity, the economy, and local employment. Generally, safety impacts make the most convincing argument for preventing a potentially incompatible tall structure or managing vegetation that affects the airport. For airports with flight tracking software, use of the software to illustrate actual flight tracks and altitudes of aircraft using the airport over a particular period in time can be useful when making specific cases for safety and noise impacts. Additionally, since planning and zoning staff will report their findings and recommendations to the planning advisory board or elected officials, assisting them in making a case with an economic impact study showing how an airport financially benefits the community can help garner local support. The airport can assist the local government staff in stressing how operational impacts on the airport may lead to economic impacts on the community by limiting operations—either through loss of air carrier service, non-air-carrier operations, or an airport-based business. Using an Economic Impact Study to Advocate for Airspace Protection San Francisco International Airport produced an economic impact study documenting how many people in the region work at the airport, how many jobs the airport creates, and the economic losses that stem from a reduction in air carrier capacity due to height obstruction issues. The airport uses the findings to make a case for the enforcement of stringent airspace protection. The airport staff has also worked with the air carriers operating at the airport to develop a consolidated OEI surface that is protected via an airport land use compatibility plan required by state public utility statutes. AIRPORT AS A REGIONAL ASSET the following language to keep in mind or to convey a message when making the case for airport protection: “The airport is a regional asset, connecting residents, visitors and businesses to national and global markets and destinations. It is an economic engine supporting multiple regional jobs, direct and indirect economic benefits, and tax revenues. Degradation of the airport’s operational capabilities could have significant negative economic repercussions.” (p. 35) In ACRP Report 38, the authors suggested

98 Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook Public Engagement with Adjacent Property Owners An airport sponsor should know and build a relationship with adjacent property owners. Issues can be avoided if an adjacent property owner knows to talk to the airport about proposed development. Having a relationship with adjacent property owners also can assist an airport sponsor if/when the landowner makes changes or additions to structures on-site or the vegeta- tion on adjacent properties becomes or will soon become a potential obstruction. One of the most common airspace obstruction issues faced by smaller airports is vegetation management. Owners of properties adjacent to the airport may be unaware that their growing vegetation is causing impacts on the airspace, or they may be aware of the issues but reluctant or unable to maintain the vegetation themselves due to time or cost constraints. Prior to engaging with the adjacent property owners relating to vegetation, there are three key items to consider: • Know the neighbors. The airport should be aware of and familiar with any stakeholder or community member whose vegetation could result in an impact on air navigation. • Be cognizant of the vegetation’s value to the stakeholder. The airport should recognize and respect that the vegetation may provide highly valued shade or a noise barrier for the prop- erty owner, or it might be located in a wildlife area of interest to environmental interest groups. • Be prepared to pay. Property owners who are willing to address the safety concerns caused by vegetation generally expect compensation for trimming or removal and the airport to bear the cost of the action. Additionally, if the vegetation acts as a shade or a noise barrier or is needed to maintain a green space, the airport should be prepared and willing to replace the removed trees with more suitable vegetation that will not exceed the airport’s imaginary surfaces. Aside from vegetation issues, adjacent property owners may put forth plans to improve their property or add structures to the site. Such improvements may include silos or storage facilities on a farm property or even a small wind turbine designed to power a single household. Advance communication with and education of the adjacent property owners should establish the good- will necessary to communicate productively with the property owners about the limitations that a specific improvement may place on the airport and how it will affect the character and efficiency of airport operations. The airport or neighboring businesses may be willing to spend funds on protecting the airport from encroachment because they understand the role of the airport as an important economic driver for the community as a whole. Engaging with Owners of Property Adjacent to the Airport Marshall County Airport identified a number of vegetation impacts to the air- port’s imaginary surfaces on the farmland in the airport’s vicinity. Because the airport had experienced some prior tension with adjacent property owners on an unrelated issue, the new airport manager reached out to the farm owners in person to address the prior discord. The farm owners were appreciative of the personal approach because prior issues were handled through letters from the airport and attorneys. The face-to-face communication significantly improved the airport’s relationship with the farmers. As a result, the airport was able to clear the obstructions and make more grazing land available to farmers.

Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management 99 While an airport’s economic impact message may resonate with some stakeholders, owners of property adjacent to an airport seem most receptive to messages about the potential safety, accident potential, or liability issues of a potential obstruction. While larger airports often may not interact directly with their neighbors regarding air- space obstruction issues, the airport’s neighbors are important stakeholders in comprehen- sive airport obstruction management. Disputes over vegetation and expansion or alteration of existing structures can have serious consequences. If these issues are not addressed pro- actively, there can be a risk of litigation over property rights, taking claims of infringement upon enjoyment of private property. As with the other stakeholders, early and proactive engagement can create a more positive, consensus-building environment and establish a level of trust that is lost when the stakeholders are misinformed or informed too late of an issue that will affect them. Coordination with the Real Estate and Communications Infrastructure Industries ACRP Project 09-16 research has indicated that very few airport managers communicate with real estate and land developers directly. Instead, many airports rely on local zoning and planning officials to communicate with developers, educating them on and enforcing airport protection zoning regulations. For developers, airport and airspace impacts may not be obvious and air- port coordination may not be considered unless the airport is in the immediate vicinity of the development site. Additionally, federal, state and regional interest groups that focus on land use planning and zoning or real estate development seldom bring up airport encroachment as a part of their outreach or member professional development agenda. Protecting an airport from encroaching tall structure development is frequently perceived to be contrary to a real estate developer’s best interests, making outreach and potential consensus building difficult. However, ACRP Project 09-16 research has indicated that this is not always the case. For land and real estate development, the key to successful consensus building is early communication. This stakeholder group is driven strictly by the bottom line, and when seeking new areas for development, lack of information regarding the potential of a structure to impact airspace is a disservice to the airport, the community, the developer, and investors in the pro- posed development. In the majority of cases where consensus building as it relates to tall struc- ture development collapses, the real estate developer did not discover or was not notified early in the due diligence process of a potential height limitation at a particular site. That circumstance can threaten a developer’s ability to develop the property to a level that yields an acceptable profit margin. As a result, limitation on structure height following property acquisition or start Best Practices in Public Engagement on Sensitive Environmental, Historical, or Wildlife Issues • Public engagement on sensitive matters is best managed or conducted through formal processes, such as the NEPA process, Section 106 consultation (National Historic Preservation Act), or Section 7 consultation (Endangered Species Act). • Airport managers should disseminate information from the beginning to the end of the engagement process. • Alternatively, property owners should be encouraged to get involved in the formal process and obtain any pertinent information.

100 Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook of development may result in litigation or limitation of an airport’s operational capacity if the local government permits the development to move forward. While the airport may be reluctant to reach out to developers and construction managers due to the perception of conflicting goals, it can be counter-productive not to reach out. While starting the conversation can be challenging, the earlier in the process that an airport engages with a real estate developer, the easier the consensus-building process will be. When discussing the impact of development on the airport, airport representatives should avoid basing their case solely on regulations or authority. Instead, the discussion should focus on mutual gains or impacts, such as impacts on airport capacity (e.g., weight restrictions, noise constraints, runway length constraints, limitation on number of operations, etc.) When reaching out to any of the stakeholder groups, an airport should attempt to hold an in-person meeting and try to avoid making requests or demands through mail. Speaking to stakeholders in person helps to build good relationships and gain mutual trust. As stated in ACRP Report 38: Protection of an airport’s navigable airspace requires a partnership comprised of the airport sponsor, the FAA, local municipal authorities, the aviation community, and the local community, including real estate development interests. This partnership has been more frequently observed to have formed reactively, in response to a combination of controversial construction projects and several parties’ incomplete understanding of airspace protection needs. But it can be formed proactively, by putting into place the proper mechanisms and public outreach in anticipation of potentially controversial construction proposals. (p. 32) Engaging with the General Public Airports around the country have found success in engaging the public with outreach pro- grams to establish a relationship and a level of trust before there is a specific issue that needs to be addressed or there is a conflict. GA airports can host open houses to encourage a positive relationship with the public and open channels of communication. Communicating with Developers of Tall Structures In Nashville, Tennessee, crane operators conducting emergency repairs or replacing rooftop air conditioning equipment on tall buildings, such as hotels, are not required to get an obstruction permit for the operation. Nashville Inter- national Airport staff were concerned that the possibility of such a “pop-up” obstruction might have a negative effect on flight safety. The airport’s airspace management staff made a concerted effort to reach out to, speak with, and develop mutually beneficial relationships with representatives from hotels and companies operating cranes. As word got out regarding the airport’s collabora- tion with the development and crane operator community, a positive dynamic developed between the two stakeholders—the nonaviation stakeholders proactively reached out to the airport to discuss their plans and to seek assistance in preparing for the federal OE/AAA process. This proactive communication benefitted both parties.

Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management 101 In the absence of airport-specific interest groups, there are a number of proactive steps that can be taken by the airport to foster this outreach: • Create a community partnership committee, including representatives from the airport, local politicians, and business leaders. The committee could hold quarterly meetings at the airport or in an easily accessible community center to discuss airport matters and issues. This meeting should be advertised and open to the general public. Obstruction management will be only one of the many issues discussed during these meetings, but the meetings could give the airport a platform to open the conversation regarding airspace protection. • Attend and participate in local government council meetings and local chamber of com- merce meetings for jurisdictions that may be affected by the airport. The airport should show interest in the affairs of the surrounding communities as an active community member and should be engaged in what local decision-makers and other stakeholders are doing by attending their meetings. • Develop, advertise, and distribute an electronic newsletter with airport updates. This not only creates an additional avenue for creating goodwill in the community, but also allows the airport to educate the community regarding the airport’s role and ongoing issues. • Maintain an active social media presence on such platforms as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so that the airport can keep the community abreast of ongoing airport issues. 8.3 Crafting the Message Once the audience has been identified, the next step is crafting the message to suit the audience. What is the airport trying to tell stakeholders? While this may seem obvious at first, there are many details to consider. Just the concept of airport imaginary surfaces is challenging to explain, especially to those without an aviation background. ACRP Report 38 identifies the expertise threshold as one of the key challenges to successful obstruction management. Many nonaviation stakeholders are unaware of federal, state, or local rules and regulations that regulate impacts on air navigation by obstructions or require them to be mitigated. As a result, real estate development plans, land improvement projects, expansion of public utilities and roads, or even unmanaged vegetation in the vicinity of airports may unintentionally cause serious effects to the surrounding airspace. Even within state and local jurisdictions that have extensive airport/airspace protection rules, regulations, and policies, conflicts can arise. This may occur either due to the stakeholders not being aware of these regulations or having prevailing conflicting interests despite their knowl- edge of the regulations and requirements. Resolving these conflicts or mitigating their impact after they have already occurred can be time consuming and costly. When crafting a message regarding obstruction management, the airport should consider the following questions: • Does the message contain new information, or has the audience been exposed to the concepts previously? • Does the audience understand why obstruction management is so important to the airport? • Are visual aids available, such as graphics or videos, to help the audience understand the issues? It is critical to craft the message so it reaches stakeholders at the appropriate organizational level and assists them in crossing the expertise threshold, enabling them to comprehend the real- world consequences of a specific concern.

102 Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook The airport should be specific regarding actual impacts when presenting a case against encroachment regardless of what stakeholder group is being engaged. Rather than presenting a hypothetical case, the airport should discuss a concrete issue that has substantial, real-world impacts on the airport and, in turn, on the community that it serves. Explain Issues in an Easy-to-Understand Way There are many specialized terms and acronyms associated with aviation and especially with airport obstruction management. Airport managers or representatives may not even be fully aware of the extent of the special language that they speak and how confusing and intimidat- ing this language can be to someone unfamiliar with airport concepts and terms. In all their verbal and written communications, airport staff should customize the message to the appro- priate audience and level of expertise. In all circumstances, plain language should be used, and remarks should be prepared well in advance to ensure that the language and words are geared to a nonaviation audience. In discussing airport obstruction management, the airport sponsor should avoid the “laundry list” approach and review only the most critical imaginary surfaces that pertain to a specific audience. It can be helpful to include examples of what other airports are doing to address similar issues and how these issues may have been addressed by the airport in the past. Airport personnel tend to speak in industry jargon without realizing it. It is suggested that airports use plain language that a smart high school student would understand. Use Graphics and Visualization Tools Use of visualization tools and maps that clearly depict existing or potential impacts to the airport’s imaginary surfaces are helpful in communicating the technical criteria contained in the many FAA regulations, rules, and orders. As highlighted by one of the airport managers interviewed during ACRP Project 09-16 research, “seeing is believing.” Three-dimensional visu- alization or GIS mapping tools can be invaluable in visually depicting obstructions and their correlation to the airport’s imaginary surfaces or design criteria. To understand the imaginary surfaces described in FAR Part 77, many airports have produced publicly available documents or videos that illustrate the core surfaces. These may be particularly helpful for airports with limited resources. The Washington State Department of Transportation produced and made publicly available a video that covers FAR Part 77 surfaces. The resource is brief and provides clarity for anyone not familiar with imaginary surfaces. Using Visuals to Communicate Impacts to an Airport’s Imaginary Surfaces The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority developed a composite three- dimensional map of critical surfaces, which is used to visually present and explain surface impacts to the north of Reagan National Airport. While the development of a comprehensive composite airspace surface may not be a viable option for all airports, several visual resources, diagrams, and even videos covering various airspace segments are available online.

Building Support for Airport Obstruction Management 103 Tailor the Message to a Specific Stakeholder Audience Stakeholder groups have different priorities as well as varying levels of aviation knowledge. In crafting a message, the airport should speak to the issues that will most likely resonate with the audience. Zoning officials, real estate developers, and local property owners care about dif- ferent issues; material that may appeal to one of these audiences may not appeal to another. When the airport staff is speaking to a multi-stakeholder audience, it is a good idea to include specific points that will resonate with each of the stakeholders so that everyone feels included and remains engaged in the process. 8.4 Building Consensus Working to Build Consensus Following identification of the audience and crafting of the message, effective delivery of the message—how it is delivered—is of the utmost importance. Industry research and input suggests that even at airports where local airport protection regulations strictly govern airport obstruction management, the process of obstruction management meets with less resistance when stakeholders feel respected and listened to. Whenever the airport manager is explaining the airport’s position, it is best to operate from the position that audience members are intel- ligent, reasonable people who have their own business or personal priorities that they are trying to achieve. The airport may be one of the most important stakeholders in the community, but it is still part of the overall community. Achieving Mutual Gains in Multi-Stakeholder Negotiations As recommended in ACRP Report 38: For the partnership between airport and community to work effectively, all stakeholders must (1) be fully informed on technical and jurisdictional issues, (2) understand and respect opposing viewpoints, and (3) be willing to consider reasonable alternatives. (p. 32) The study of conflict resolution among stakeholders most often focuses on consensus building, which is defined by mutual gain or a solution that satisfies each side. One of the keys to achieving mutual gains is consensus. Consensus should be the goal of any good-faith effort designed to meet the interests of all stakeholders. The key indicator of whether or not a consensus has been reached is that everyone agrees they can live with the final proposal. One way to increase the likelihood that stakeholder outreach and inclusion will result in consensus is to work in a collaborative manner. In short, this means open communication and creating an environment in which disagreement is respected. Consensus means overwhelm- ing agreement. It does not mean unanimous agreement. Collaboration does not require consensus. In all interactions, keep in mind the key characteristics of collaboration: • A common sense of purpose and identification of the problem • Participants educating each other • Participants sharing in the implementation of solutions • Participants being kept informed as situations evolve Often when discussing an issue, people view the discussion as a choice between alternative positions and quickly take sides; no effort is made to understand the interests behind the two positions. In such a contentious atmosphere, the result is usually either a win/lose outcome or

104 Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook a compromise that satisfies neither side. However, with some patience, creativity, and a willing- ness to “think outside the box,” there likely are opportunities for win-win situations. When searching for win-win opportunities, if the solution will require multiple stakeholders to reach consensus, the airport should consider putting together a working session for joint fact-finding with the stakeholders. During the working session, all sides are able to share their information and research so that there is a greater understanding within the group about what everyone else is trying to achieve. These working sessions can build trust and provide an oppor- tunity for stakeholders to educate each other about their individual concerns. This will likely lead to a mutually beneficial solution. Working sessions usually have a specific task or goal to be accomplished and include a cross section of the community or interests that are affected. This format is especially useful in devel- oping potential solutions to problems by providing an opportunity for a more focused or in-depth exploration of issues. The airport should take the lead in establishing the working session and setting the tone for the discussion. When preparing for a working session, be sure to consider the steps of identifying the audience, crafting the message, and building consensus among participants. The FAA’s Community Involvement Manual suggests the possibility of facilitated conflict resolution if outreach and joint fact-finding are not producing results. Collaboration and consensus building can be time consuming and, at times, frustrating. Nevertheless, the pursuit of mutual gains will likely save the airport and its sponsor time and effort in the long run. Creating relationships and educating the community stakeholders on the importance of obstruction management is one of the surest ways to gain community cooperation. Finding a Win-Win Opportunity At Nashville International Airport, an adjacent property owner’s vegetation was causing airspace impacts and the vegetation needed to be trimmed. While the property owner was reluctant to trim the trees, he expressed interest in the fire- wood. The airport paid to cut down the vegetation and provided the property owner with the firewood, resulting in a win-win scenario.

Next: Chapter 9 - Putting It All Together »
ACRP Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook Get This Book
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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Research Report 195: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Guidebook is designed to assist airport operators in developing and implementing an obstruction management program to protect the airport airspace from encroachment by tall objects.

The guidance will help airport staff in developing an obstruction management plan by understanding the regulatory environment, identifying obstructions, and in developing a strategy for communication with surrounding communities that will ensure airport involvement in any development issues that could result in an obstruction around the airport.

The guidebook is supplemented by ACRP WebResource 7: Best Practices for Airport Obstruction Management Library, which provides reference documents, model documents, and presentation materials for obstruction management outreach. A methodology for creating a composite map of all applicable airspace surfaces is also provided, as well as examples of interactive airspace composite surface maps for small and large airports.

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