What Is Aviation and Airport Operations and Administration?

Professionals with a specialized Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in aviation management can work in a wide variety of settings and capacities. As the world grows more interconnected and consumers continue to increase travel, airport planning and strategy are areas with significant opportunities.

In the United States alone, there are 5,082 public airports and 14,551 private airports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA handles an astounding 45,000 daily flights, with 2,9000,000 passengers per day and 10,000,000 flights each year. There are nearly 11 million U.S. jobs in the aviation industry, generating $488 billion in annual earnings, and many of them are operations and administration positions.

Airports Operations and Administration: A Background

A systematic process is used in this industry to develop airports in accordance with local, state and national objectives. The FAA provides standards and guidance regarding national airports’ layout and master planning. Among the key objectives of airport planning is to ensure effective use of airport resources to satisfy aviation demand in a financially viable manner while considering environmental factors.

There are different types of airport planning, including national system plans and airport master plans.

The primary types are classified as follows:

  • National System Planning (NPIAS)
  • State Airport System Planning (SASP)
  • Metropolitan Airport System Planning
  • Airport Master Planning

An Airport Layout Plan (ALP) shows the existing airport facilities as well as planned future development. In order for airport improvements to be carried out at federally obligated airports, the development must comply with an FAA-approved airport development plan. By definition, the plan encompasses:

  • Additions and boundaries to areas owned or controlled by the sponsor
  • Nature of current and proposed airport facilities, including locations
  • Locations within the airport for non-aviation areas

Identifying short- and long-term airport needs is the result of effective airport planning. There may be airport needs due to aviation demand, security recommendations, airport inspections and runway safety recommendations. A significant percentage of the funding for airport planning comes from federal programs, including the Sponsor’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the FAA Airport Capital Improvement Program (ACIP).

Nearly 3,310 airports currently serve a variety of roles in the national airport system, as detailed in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), and are eligible for federal funding through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) over the next five years. All commercial service airports, all reliever airports and selected public-owned general aviation airports are included in the NPIAS. The FAA must publish a 5-year estimate of AIP-eligible developments every two years.

How This Field Is Essential to National and Global Development

The FAA aims to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world to facilitate business and personal travel, contributing to a wide range of economic sectors. Both business travel and tourism play a large role in the economic development of the United States and its economic partners. In addition, the aviation industry creates a smaller, closely tied world where individuals can learn about other cultures and ways of doing business. Though digital technologies temporarily took the place of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no long-term substitute for the experience of immersion in other cultures and face-to-face communication. Without international air travel, trade and global communications, experiencing places beyond one’s borders would be much more difficult and out of reach for many.

The Henderson State University Curriculum

In this specialized MBA program, students will examine airport management techniques, aviation regulations and current issues, as well as future trends related to airport operations. Concentration courses prepare you for success in a wide variety of executive and management roles, including aviation operations manager, director of operations, chief operations officer, project manager and business consultant.

Among the concentration courses, Airport Operations and Administration offers a study of airport planning, FAA’s National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), airport organization and administration, airport operations and administration under FAR Part 139 and landslide/airside access and security. There are also courses in law, economic analysis, strategic information systems, management and analytics and marketing management.

Learn more about Henderson State University’s Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Aviation Management online program.

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