Fresh Look Is Needed at Proposed South Florida Jetport

CED-82-54: Published: Jun 15, 1982. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1982.

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To protect the Everglades, the United States entered into the Jetport Pact of 1970 with the the State of Florida, and Dade County, Florida. The Pact provides, as one alternative, that a suitable replacement site at which to locate a regional airport be found in south Florida and training facilities equivalent to those now at the Everglades Jetport be constructed without cost to the county. GAO reviewed the Pact to determine whether: (1) the replacement training facility is still needed based on changing circumstances in the past decade and on projections of future need; and (2) plans for a new commercial jetport at site 14, the recommended replacement, have adequately shown that the site is suitable for air carrier airport development.

The need for a south Florida air carrier training airport, which was a primary condition leading to the Pact, has almost disappeared because advances in air carrier training simulator technology and changes in the Federal Aviation Administration's regulations have virtually eliminated the need for hands-on training. Another condition which led to the Pact, the need for a regional commercial airport, has also changed. The Pact did not directly address general aviation training needs, but apparently the need to accommodate this demand is the justification for constructing training facilities at site 14 to replace the Everglades Jetport. However, the capacity available at existing airports, coupled with expansions to them, will adequately satisfy expected general aviation training demands. The 1981 estimate to acquire site 14 and construct the training facility is $161.9 million. Potential operational problems which would apparently face a regional airport at site 14 and have not been adequately resolved. Significant airspace conflicts may be created by commercial operation at that site, which could reduce overall airport system capacity, even with the additional capacity provided by the site. Also, ground access planning for site 14 is inconsistent with established policy and assumptions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should, as one of the signatories to the Jetport Pact, not consent to renewing the Pact unless it is revised to recognize that a training facility is no longer needed and that the claimed need for a regional airport has been moved 15 years into the future.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Since the Pact was not renewed and site 14 will not be developed, any action on recommendations relating to development of the site is moot.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should satisfactorily resolve the airspace conflicts that commercial development at site 14 may create and the inconsistent ground transportation access planning for site 14.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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