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What is a Master Plan?

An airport master plan is a long-range planning document that defines a concept for development at an airport. Master plans are typically developed for a 20-year planning period.

The master plan process begins by taking an inventory of what currently exists at the airport and around the airport property. This step includes analysis of existing land uses and local zoning ordinances as well other locally adopted plans. As part of this inventory, current and historical activity data are collected related to based aircraft and the number of annual takeoffs and landings or operations; these figures help to forecast the anticipated usage of the airport into the future. The existing airport facilities are also documented.

With existing facilities and activities identified, the next component is to forecast future activity at the airport. Forecasts are typically completed for three periods (under five years, six to 10 years, and 11 to 20 years) and project both the number of total operations and number of based aircraft. Forecasts must be approved by the FAA for use in the study’s remaining analyses.

Using the FAA-approved forecasts, a demand/capacity analysis will be completed to determine if the existing airport infrastructure will be sufficient in the future, ensuring the FAA’s standards for airport design are achieved. Of importance for Bentonville Municipal Airport is the plan for development along the west side of the runway and a proposed new turf runway. This development, along with factors identified during the inventory process and forecasts of demand will be used to evaluate the adequacy or capacity of existing facilities to meet future activity demand levels.

Depending on the outcome of the demand/capacity and facility requirements, airport development alternatives will be prepared that address the identified deficiencies. These alternatives will examine options to improve the facilities to meet the needs using a set of criteria to confirm the impacts of each alternative are considered, including environmental and financial factors. At the conclusion of the alternatives analysis, a preferred airport development plan will be prepared to reflect the alternative that best helps the airport achieve its goals and meet future demand.

The preferred airport development plan will be graphically depicted in an airport layout plan (ALP) that is designed to meet FAA standards. The ALP depicts the current and future airport layouts and includes plans to address airspace requirements and obstructions. The ALP can be considered the “blue print” for development at Bentonville Municipal Airport and must also be approved by the FAA.