What is an Environmental Assessment (EA)?

What is the purpose of an EA?

What is the structure of an EA?

How is the EA approved?

What is an Airport Master Plan?

What is an Airport Layout Plan (ALP)?

What is the Airport's development process?

How does the airport planning process work?

How is a Master Plan approved?

What are TIPs?

What is/How is a Sponsor's Proposed Action defined?



What is an Environmental Assessment (EA)? Back to Top

An EA is a document that analyzes the expected environmental effects of a proposed action. The analysis is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If a determination is made that no significant impact would occur, a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) is issued. However, if the environmental impacts are determined to be of significance and the impacts cannot be mitigated, the federal agency may then need to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 



What is the purpose of an EA? Back to Top

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) details three purposes of an EA in its "Forty Most Asked Questions" as follows: 1) Briefly provide sufficient evidence and analysis to determine whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or a FONSI; 2) Aid an agency's compliance with NEPA when no EIS is necessary (i.e. it identifies alternatives and mitigation); and 3) Facilitate preparation of an EIS when one is necessary. 



What is the structure of an EA? Back to Top



How is the EA approved? Back to Top

The responsible FAA official must independently evaluate and determine the adequacy of an Environment Assessment (EA). The official also must take responsibility for the document’s scope and content. When the official accepts the EA, the following statement:  "This environmental assessment becomes a Federal document when evaluated, signed, and dated by the Responsible FAA Official.”

In addition to FAA approval, for non-primary airports in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation – Division of Aeronautics reviews and is authorized to approve EA's under the Airport and Airway Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1987 (Public Law 100-223), Title I Airport and Airway Improvement Act Amendments, Section 116, State Block Grant Pilot Program (49 USC 47128).



What is an Airport Master Plan? Back to Top

An Airport Master Plan is a document that represents the long-term (20-year period) development goals of an airport and is typically reviewed and updated every 5 to 10 years. The objective of a Master Plan is to provide guidelines for future airport development that will satisfy aviation demand in a financially feasible manner, while simultaneously addressing the community's aviation, environmental, and socioeconomic issues. The Airport Master Plan provides the following: graphic presentation of the future development of the airport and anticipated land uses in the vicinity of the airport; establishes a schedule for development; proposes an achievable financial plan; justifies the plan technically and procedurally; and addresses issues in a way that satisfies local, state, and federal regulations. 

What is an Airport Layout Plan (ALP)? Back to Top

An ALP is a scaled graphic presentation of existing and proposed airport facilities (e.g. runways, taxiways, apron, terminal building, navigation aids, etc.), their location on the airport, and the pertinent safety clearance and dimensional information required. The ALP drawing set outlines the airfield development proposal. Under certain circumstances, only the ALP will be updated rather than the entire Master Plan for an airport.


What is the Airport's development process? Back to Top

An airport's development process begins with the Airport Master Plan and Airport Layout Plan. Following local, state, and federal approval of the ALP, the airport owner may begin development of the projects as depicted on the approved ALP. The projects eligible for state and/or federal (FAA) funding support are completed based upon the approved Airport Capital Improvement Program (ACIP). In the state of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation-Division of Aeronautics refers to the ACIP as a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

The scope of the proposed project(s), determines the level of environmental clearance required. It is necessary to receive approval of the appropriate environmental documentation prior to project initiation. 



How does the airport planning process work? Back to Top

Airport planning is developed through a hierarchy of governmental agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for the development and publication of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). The NPIAS lists the airports considered to be in the national interest and eligible for federal funding. 

State aviation organizations, such as the Illinois Department of Transportation's - Division of Aeronautics (IDA) identify existing airports that meet the state air transportation goals and any new airports required to meet future aviation demand. This information is then used to identify airports for inclusion in the NPIAS. At the local level, airport owners/operators develop Master Plans that typically contain a higher level of detail than system plans. 

Funding for eligible projects is provided by the FAA through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). AIP is funded by aviation user fees deposited in the federal aviation trust fund for the purpose of improving the nation's aviation infrastructure. The Division of Aeronautics contributes to a matching share, typically comparable to the local share, for AIP eligible projects. The Division of Aeronautics also offers funding support for a variety of non-AIP eligible projects and ensures that state aviation resources are allocated to airports within the state with the greatest need. 


How is a Master Plan approved? Back to Top

An Airport Master Plan, inclusive of the ALP, is produced based upon FAA guidelines and regulations found in FAA Advisory Circulars, 150/5070-6B, Airport Master Plans and 150/5300-13, Airport Design. The FAA does not approve a Master Plan, but rather 'accepts' it for planning purposes. The ALP drawing set however is approved as being in conformance with planning and design guidelines by signature on the Airport Layout Plan set.

The Division of Aeronautics is active in all facets of the planning effort and approves the ALP prior to signature by the FAA. 



What are TIPs? Back to Top

A Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), for airports in Illinois, is an Airport Sponsor created document, that represents the short-term (5-year period) development goals of an airport.  The TIP is typically reviewed and updated every federal fiscal year.  The TIP details those projects which are eligible to receive federal and/or state funding support.



What is/How is a Sponsor's Proposed Action defined? Back to Top

The Sponsor’s Proposed Action is the solution the airport sponsor wishes to implement to solve the problem(s) it is facing.