The Future of Airports

by William A. Fife, P.E., Vice Pres. and Dir.; Aviation Services for DMJM+Harris, New York City, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 2, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


Through a series of meetings and surveys, professionals involved in the design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of airports throughout the United States and Canada have identified the key issues currently facing airport professionals, and trends in the industry that must be dealt with in the coming years. Among the current issues identified are altered route structures and the growth of airline hubs; continuing growth in the airline passenger and air cargo markets; the downsizing of the staff of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other government agencies; an increased focus on public-private partnerships; and growth in the global economy and a changing worldwide political environment. Among the major trends that will impact airports in the future are increasing airport delays, which affect not just the airport involved but many other airports throughout the system; the development of so-called superjet aircraft that will require wider, smoother pavements and that may not be accommodated at many existing airports; changes and improvement to technology, including GPS-guided flight control systems and other navigational developments; and environmental concerns, including the need to comply with noise, air, and water pollution regulations. A peer group of airport professionals meets every few months at a given airport to discuss these issues and try to find mutual solutions.

Subject Headings: Airport and airfield pavements | Airports and airfields | Water pollution | Public private partnership | Noise pollution | Control systems | Construction engineering

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