L.R. Kimball Senior Research and Planning Manager, Thomas Thatcher, recently authored the Airport Cooperative Research Program Report 44, A Guidebook for the Preservation of Public Use Airports. The report was written following a study completed by L.R. Kimball to determine how airport infrastructure can remain open and has been published by Transportation Research Board.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are approximately 5,000 public-use airports in the United States. Many of which are in danger of closure, typically to make land available for alternative uses such as residential or commercial development. The purpose of the Guidebook is to help preserve America’s public use airport system.
The actual closure of an airport is usually the last step in a chain of events that occurs over several years. One of the keys to airport preservation is to take action early in the process when numerous options are still available. However, organizations seeking to preserve public-use airports have difficulty obtaining information about their options to preserve the airport and to increase its economic viability. Public-use airport preservation is about achieving and promoting actions that will result in a well-maintained, well-run and economically sustainable airport that is integrated into the community.
ACRP Report 44 is a resource for all airport advocates, including state and local agencies, airport owners and operators, airport users, civic organizations and airport consultants. ACRP Report 44 shows airport advocates how to identify and organize to address the underlying causes for airport closures, including issues with airport funding, economics, community and environmental issues, and airport infrastructure issues. The report also addresses how to recognize airports with a growing risk of closure, and what measures can be taken to preserve America’s public-use airports.
Thatcher says he is, "delighted that the joint interest and commitments of L.R. Kimball and the National Academy of Sciences gave me the opportunity to do the nation’s most definitive study on what puts public-use airports at risk of closure, and what actions can be taken by airport advocates to preserve America's public-use airports."
Thatcher has worked for L.R. Kimball for four years. Prior to joining the firm he spent 27 years with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, last serving as the New Jersey State Director for Aeronautics. Thatcher has held commercial airplane, instrument, multi-engine, flight instructor and ground instructor licenses since the 1980's. He is also a nationally certified AICP land-use/city planner and a NJ State licensed Professional Land-Use Planner.