Begin Main Content Area

​Airport Planning

As a Federal Block Grant Program participant, PennDOT provides airport planning, programming, and environmental assessment support to general-aviation airports as part of federal and state airport improvement programs.

Departmental airport planners play a vital role in the overall efficiency of Pennsylvania's airport system. Thoughtful planning contributes to airport preservation through fiscally responsible airport improvement and development with a focus on safety and standards adherence.

PennDOT is responsible for many airport management components, including:

Economic Impact of Aviation

In today's global economy, air transportation provides vital links that enable businesses to function efficiently and improve the quality of life for residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Airports and aviation help to both support and stimulate economic activity throughout the state.

Aviation benefits the Commonwealth in many ways. Air transportation is essential for business attraction and retention. Airports play a key role in economic development for many communities and are the gateway to the nation's air transportation system and the world's economy.

The Aviation Economic Impact Calculator allows airports to ​calculate updated impacts for their facility based on changes in airport activity, business tenants, and visitor spending. The calculator produces estimates of economic impact, including employment, payroll, and output.​ 

PennDOT will hold a training webinar on Tuesday, June 25, from 11:00 AM-12:00 PM to help airports learn about the tool. 

Statewide Airport System Plan (SASP)

Pennsylvania is committed to an efficient airport system that effectively meets national and state goals while balancing individual airport needs. PennDOT conducts Continuous Airport System Planning because, with the growing cost of development and maintenance, it is critical to have up-to-date tools and data for decision making. Pennsylvania's complete SASP and latest updates are available below.

Airport Master Planning

Airport planning responsibilities within PennDOT mirror those of the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. In fact, PennDOT has been delegated authority, through a State Block Grant agreement with the FAA, to approve Aviation Forecast and Airport Layout Plans. The required elements of the Airport Master Plan are referenced routinely for federal and state funding decision making. PennDOT planners ensure airport development plans are consistent with FAA Orders, Regulations and Advisory Circulars.

Other airport planning studies help determine the feasibility, or the benefit-cost relationship of, a particular project. Planners approve the scope of work and grant payment request for all planning studies.

PennDOT also evaluates general-aviation airports' infrastructure for suitability and recommendation for a Global Positioning System to support the airports' vertically guided instrument approaches. The new technology will provide additional safety for aviators without the installation of costly conventional instrument landing systems.

Airport Programming

Effective statewide airport improvement planning and programming are essential in preserving, protecting and expanding (as appropriate) Pennsylvania's system of airports. Significant time and effort is dedicated to working with individual airport sponsors to develop a realistic airport improvement program that addresses safety, standards and capacity issues. More information on programming is available at the following links:

PennDOT utilizes the Joint Automated Capital Improvement Program (JACIP) to electronically collect, evaluate, and communicate twelve- and four-year plan data with funding eligible airport sponsors. JACIP also stores airport and project information that is used in the evaluation and selection of airports' funding requests.

Environmental Assessment

Another Core Airport planning function is the assessment of projects' potential environmental impacts. A project must be environmentally cleared before federal or state funding can be granted. Projects approved for federal funding must meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, of 1969. Requirements and detailed information are outlined in: