Master Plan Update FAQ

What is the Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL) Master Plan?

An Airport Master Plan is a comprehensive, airport-wide study with the goal of developing a list of projects to meet future aviation demands over the next 20 years. The most recent Airport Master Plan for the Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL or Airport) was completed in 2007.

 Why is the Northern Colorado Regional Airport preparing an Airport Master Plan?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends that public use airports prepare a new airport master plan every seven to ten years or as local aviation conditions change. Since it has been more than ten years since the current Airport Master Plan was completed, the Northern Colorado Regional Airport has initiated this Airport Master Plan Study to support future demand, continue safe and efficient operations, and to address changes in the aviation industry at the local level and the national level. This study will update outdated information in the existing Plan and identify possible new projects that will support the Airport’s long-term viability and enhance facility safety, while supporting economic development and the Airport’s commitment to be a good neighbor.

What is the goal/purpose of the Airport Master Plan?

The primary goal of an airport master plan is to provide guidance for future airport development necessary to accommodate forecasted demand. This Study will recommend future improvements that enhance operational safety, align with the airport’s economic development and strategic goals (documented in the 2018 Strategic Plan), and follow federal, state, and local regulatory guidelines.

Additionally, FAA requires a current airport master plan for an airport to remain eligible for federal grant funds. Airport master plans establish development parameters and timelines that coincide with effectively satisfying forecast demand. The FNL Airport Master Plan will aid in fiscal responsibility, reactions to industry uncertainties, and balancing Airport improvements with local concerns.

What are the components of an Airport Master Plan?

The Airport Master Plan process is guided by the FAA and ultimately results in projections of future passenger and aviation activity growth and an updated Airport Layout Plan (ALP).

The primary components of the Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL) Master Plan are:

    • Inventory of Existing Conditions – an inventory of existing conditions including review and analysis of environmental considerations.
    • Forecasts of Aviation Activity – a series of aviation activity forecasts to identify growth trends and changing conditions.
    • Facility Requirements – determination of facility requirements to meet current and projected levels of aviation demand.
    • Airport Development Alternatives and Evaluation – development and analysis of alternative solutions to meet defined facility requirements for the 20-year planning period.
    • Airport Layout Plan – updated airport plans.
    • Financial Implementation Analysis – financial implementation plan or capital improvement plan (CIP) that identifies funding sources and project sequencing for the short term (1 to 5 years), intermediate term (6 to 10 years), and long term (11 to 20 years).

There are several additional components that are unique to the FNL Master Plan study:

    • Airport Influence Area (AIA) Plan – Develop AIA Plan Framework that will be used to inform the Cities of Loveland and Fort Collins when conducting future zoning and planning efforts by providing guidance relating to compatible development on and around the Airport. Since most of this work is not considered eligible under the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant, which is the primary funding source for the Master Plan, it is being completed as a separate task item from the Master Plan and it will be included as Attachment C of the Master Plan.
    • Passenger Demand Analysis and Air Service Market Evaluation – Report that is being completed to develop a realistic estimate of demand potential specific to commercial service or airline passenger demand at the Airport.

The process of the FNL Master Plan Study is illustrated below:

How is the Master Plan being updated?

The planning process will follow four main steps:

    • Describe existing airport conditions and identify future facility needs. This information will be used to develop alternatives to the conceptual development plan that will be created to meet the assumed needs.
    • Evaluate alternatives. Alternatives will be developed and evaluated based on a set of criteria including forecasted aviation demand, current capacity and airfield limitations, and availability and preservation needs for land use.
    • Incorporate public input. The community will be involved in reviewing alternatives and working papers throughout the planning process and feedback will be reviewed and considered in the development of the final plan.
    • Adopt final plan. It is anticipated that the Final Airport Master Plan will be brought before the Fort Collins City Council and the Loveland City Council for adoption in the spring of 2020. Once approved, the Airport Master Plan will serve as a policy document that sets forth the conceptual framework for possible future airport development.
What is the project schedule? How long will it take?

The master planning process began in the fall of 2018 and is scheduled for substantial completion in the January 2020, with the majority of work taking place before September 2019 (see project schedule below).  Working papers that support the planning process will be developed and released periodically throughout the project.  Please refer to the project schedule for approximate timing of working papers and public open house events.

Who is preparing the Airport Master Plan?

Following a qualifications-based selection process, Mead & Hunt was selected to prepare the FNL Airport Master Plan. Mead & Hunt is an employee-owned firm with over 650 engineers, architects, scientists, planners, and support staff in offices nationwide, and includes more than 200 aviation professionals. Staff in Mead & Hunt’s Denver office are leading the FNL Master Plan study with support from the following firms:

    • Gruen Gruen + Associates (GG+A) of Denver, CO | AIA Plan
    • Airport Management Consultant Group (AMCG) of Centennial, CO | General Aviation Industry Market Analysis and Demand/Capacity Assessment
    • Leibowitz and Horton of Greenwood Village, CO | Financial Implementation Analysis including benefit/cost evaluations and a financial feasibility of future capital/maintenance programs
    • Quantum Spatial of Sheboygan, WI | Aerial photography, ground survey, and GIS products to meet FAA 5300-18B requirements for Airports GIS data submittal.
How is public involvement being integrated into the development of the Airport Master Plan?

The master planning process is, by nature, interactive. A multi-faceted public and stakeholder involvement program was implemented to allow interested parties opportunities to participate at key points throughout the study. The Airport engaged the community through public open houses, media (newspaper), social media, the Airport’s Master Plan website, and the Northern Colorado Regional Airport Planning and Development Subcommittee (PDSC).

Will capacity at the airport be considered?

Yes, landside capacity (aircraft parking/storage) will be considered to determine appropriate facility requirements and needs. Landside alternatives will be developed and considered following a determination of the preferred airfield alternative. The draft Master Plan will include a Conceptual Development Plan (CDP) that describes the preferred alternatives (both airfield and landside) identified through the project’s technical and public process.

I’m concerned about noise, how will that be addressed in the Plan?

While the Airport Master Plan does not constitute a noise study, the potential for changes in the noise environment as a result of various development alternatives will be considered. Additionally, an analysis of the Airport Influence Area (AIA) was conducted in the Master Plan to make recommendations for future land use in the vicinity of the Airport that is relatively compatible with airport operations.

I would like the Airport to consider restricting noise during nighttime hours or to implement a curfew.

Most airports with curfews or nighttime restrictions have had those restrictions grandfathered in prior to the 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA). ANCA was passed by Congress in order to shift responsibility for noise abatement away from local governments and airport sponsors, and to grant the FAA the preemptive authority over the setting of noise levels and the imposition of noise and capacity restrictions at airports.

What funding is available for noise insulation of homes near the Airport?

In order for noise insulation or sound attenuation of homes near the Northern Colorado Regional Airport to be paid for with federal funding, the Airport would have to first undertake a voluntary Noise Compatibility Planning Study often referred to as a Part 150 Study. Federal Aviation Regulation Part 150 prescribes the procedures, standards and methodology governing the development, submission and review of airport noise exposure maps and airport noise compatibility plans. In a Part 150 Study, the 65 Day Night Level (DNL) noise contour is modeled and any residences located within that FAA accepted contour are then eligible for sound attenuation. Such a study has not been undertaken for the Airport because the 65 DNL noise contour does not extend off airport property, and thus, does not overlap any residences or noise sensitive land uses.

Who is paying for this study?

The Airport Master Plan is 90% funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with a 10% local match from the Airport’s funds.

Who will pay for the projects recommended in the Airport Master Plan?

Users of airport including private pilots, and corporate aircraft users, pay for the costs of developing the United States’ National Airspace System (NAS) and a portion of public use airports. Like the national highway system, much of airport infrastructure is paid for with revenues from several aviation-user taxes on items such as airline fares, air freight, and aviation fuel, which are deposited in the federal aviation trust fund for the purpose of improving the nation’s aviation infrastructure.

Certain types of planning and development projects at airports that are part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) receive federal funding from FAA AIP grants, as well as state funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Division of Aeronautics. As a non-hub Airport that is part of the NPIAS, the federal share of AIP eligible projects/costs at FNL is 90%. The remaining portion comes generally comes from CDOT and local matching funds. Ultimately, the Northern Colorado Regional Airport users fund the local share for improvements through rent, fees, fuel sales, and purchases at the Airport.

What is the FAA’s Role in the Airport Master Plan Process?

The FAA has two official roles during the Airport Master Plan study:

    1. FAA reviews and approves the aviation forecasts (the projected growth of aviation activity); and
    2. FAA formally approves the ALP (Airport Layout Plan) for airspace and design standards.

Additionally, the FAA serves in a supportive advisory role during the preparation of the Draft Airport Master Plan. The FAA may provide comments on Airport Master Plan content, findings, and recommendations, and may offer technical assistance and support.  Since the Airport Master Plan is considered a local policy/guidance document, the FAA does not formally approve the Final Airport Master Plan.

What is an ALP?

An ALP serves as the “blueprint” for an airport and shows:

    • Boundaries and proposed additions to all areas owned or controlled by the sponsor for airport purposes;
    • The location and nature of existing and proposed airport facilities and structures; and
    • The location on the airport of existing and proposed non-aviation areas and improvements thereon.

The broader term “Airport Layout Plan Drawing Set” is used to describe several pages of drawings that serve as a graphical representation of a wide range of information and details related to airport facilities, proposed development, airspace, land use concerns, and property holdings.  ALP drawing sets are prepared in accordance with strict Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and require FAA approval.

Once the plan is completed, when will improvements be made at the airport?

The final master plan will include a list of potential airport improvements based on identified needs and a draft projected schedule for making them, but actual design and construction of improvements will be determined through a future decision-making and public feedback process.

Are additional planning studies necessary before beginning a recommended airport improvement project?

Yes, additional studies may be necessary before a project depicted on the Master Plan is implemented. FAA’s approval of the ALP signifies only that there are no safety concerns related to the proposed Airport Master Plan and that recommendations generally conform with FAA standards. At a minimum, these usually include National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, and any other studies needed to satisfy required permit applications.

What are the different design standards the Airport must consider?

There are many dimensional criteria standards that apply to airports, however the primary standards to consider are the Runway Safety Area (RSA), Runway Object Free Area (ROFA) and Runway Protection Zone (RPZ):

    • Runway Safety Area (RSA) – The RSA is the primary safety area surrounding the runway. It enhances the safety of aircraft which undershoot, overrun, or veer off the runway, and it provides greater accessibility for fire-fighting and rescue equipment during such incidents. The RSA standard is the least flexible.
    • Runway Object Free Area (ROFA) – The ROFA standard requires clearing the ROFA of above-ground objects protruding above the nearest point of the RSA non-essential for air navigation or aircraft ground maneuvering purposes.
    • Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) – The RPZ’s function is to enhance the protection of people and property on the ground.