Acceptable Method of Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Tower Airports

Acceptable Method of Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Tower Airports

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    Accurate information on aircraft activity at non-towered airports is of significant concern to airport owners and operators as well as to those responsible for planning, developing, and administering these facilities. Unfortunately, without on-site air traffic controllers it is not possible to accurately record aircraft activities. Certain planning functions require estimates of airport activities to facilitate the programming of airport improvements. Historically, the process of forecasting future airport activities through the use of airport operation counts has been relatively imprecise, at best. Having reliable aircraft activity counts provides obvious benefits—better information can reduce the risks involved with facility investment decisions. This involves decision-making for capital improvements, design criteria, and operating costs. This report summarizes the current state-of-the-practice for counting airport operations at non-towered airports. Five primary areas are addressed: 1) current procedures for counting airport activity, 2) current data collection practices in Iowa and other midwestern states, 3) review of existing literature and research on this topic, 4) available technology and technology providers, and 5) alternatives and recommendations for future data collection.
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