Is an airport required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to do a master plan?
NO. An airport is never required to do a master plan by either agency, however, IF an airport wishes to seek FDOT or FAA funding for rehabilitation
or other airport development, a master plan that establishes the basis and rationale for funding requests is very helpful. A current “airport layout plan” is required for most state and federally assisted development projects.
What is an “airport layout plan” (ALP), and how is it different from an AMP?
The term “ALP” is frequently loosely applied, even by airport professionals. In the strictest sense, an ALP is merely a single two-dimensional plan-view
drawing of the location of various constructions and features on the airport’s surface, plus some required tabular data—one big “blueprint,” so to speak. More broadly, we use the term “ALP Set” to indicate several drawings that represent a wider range of information or detail, such as: road access, airport land use, airspace and obstructions to it, and “terminal area” facilities. ALP sets are sometimes accompanied by a brief narrative section to summarize what is depicted on the drawings. An AMP also includes the full ALP set of drawings, but
also includes detailed background and rationale for all of the entities displayed on the various ALP drawings. The AMP also provides the environmental impacts, financial
analyses, technical analyses, and public input associated with ALP drawing depictions. A study of an ALP, alone, leaves the viewer with a wide range of reasonable
questions, such as: Why? What impacts? What cost? How and who will pay? What alternatives were considered? What did the public think or have to say? IF the airport owner chooses to seek state or federal funding assistance with any particular aspect
of airport “development,” then those agencies will have the same questions. The AMP is designed to provide and document the information for all to see and judge.
Who approves an airport’s master plan?
Master plans are only approved by the legal sponsor, or “owner,” of an airport. FDOT and FAA only “accept” the master plan once approved by the sponsoring entity—in the case of Valkaria Airport, Brevard County.
Does the FAA or FDOT “approve” an airport’s master plan?
No. The FDOT and FAA only review, comment upon, and “accept” airport master plans from their sponsors. Both the FDOT and FAA may state their opinions regarding aspects of the plan, but they have no statutory authority or responsibility to approve or deny master plans or any plan elements. The ultimate power
of FDOT and FAA lies in their agreement or disagreement to participate in the funding of particular elements denoted in a master plan.
If an airport does a master plan, does the FAA or FDOT have any additional powers or influence over what the airport does or how it develops?
No. An airport master plan represents the owner’s vision, and not that of any higher level of government. Nothing said in the AMP obligates the airport “sponsor” to state
or federal agencies. Neither does the AMP bind the owner, in this case Brevard County, to any specific development scenario. It is, as the name indicates, a “plan.”
What are “grant assurances,” and where do they originate?
“Grant assurances” are legally binding contractual obligations between an airport owner/sponsor and the state or federal government that is providing something of value to the airport and its owner. For example, when many surplus military
airports in the US were deeded to local governments after the Second World War, there was a set of conditions, or “grant assurances” that was attached as “strings” to the deed or other property transfer document. Likewise,
when airports accept most developmental grants from the FAA or FDOT, they agree to a fairly standard set of grant assurances. Again,
grant assurances are legally binding on airport owners/sponsors, and have generally withstood legal challenges in the Nation’s courts. A Web link to airport grant assurances is found at the “Useful Reference Links” button
of this site.
What are the airport’s obligations regarding grant assurances?
Any airport owner/sponsor subject to state or federal grant assurances must comply with the assurances or risk being found in violation of contractual obligations and state or federal law. Violation, once documented, may result in a variety of
escalating sanctions against the airport by the state or federal government. Such sanctions usually start with suspension of further governmental funding, escalate to demands for repayment of depreciated values of improvements funded by the
government agency, and, in the case of war surplus airports such as Valkaria, escalate to federal government reclamation of deeded surplus properties. That being said, the federal government does NOT really want to reclaim any airport, and
definitely does NOT want to operate any reclaimed land as an airport. It simply wants the airport owner/sponsor to abide by its grant assurances.
Can the airport or county prohibit or restrict flight training and other flight activities that might be annoying to airport neighbors?
Not really, for a number of reasons. Only the FAA has legal jurisdiction over airspace and aircraft in flight. FAA grant assurances also
prohibit airports such as Valkaria from improperly restricting access or use of the airport to legitimate aeronautical users. An analogy might be found in America’s federally funded highway system. Although I-95 or US-1 traffic congestion
and noise might be objectionable to certain persons living in the area, local government cannot constrain access or use of those thoroughfares.