Potential Joint Civil and Military Use of Military Airfields

RCED-83-98: Published: Mar 1, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 1983.

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In response to a congressional directive, GAO evaluated the feasibility of making domestic military airports and airport facilities available for joint civilian and military use to the maximum extent compatible with national defense requirements.

GAO found that 23 domestic military airfields now operate under the joint-use concept. Seven of these airfields authorize unrestricted use by all civilian aircraft, while the remaining facilities restrict use to selected types of aircraft or operations. The mix of civilian and military aircraft operating from joint-use airfields ranged from those with very similar characteristics to those with widely differing characteristics. Problems which GAO found in the program included: (1) military concerns that civilian use of the airfield will interfere with military missions, operations, or security; (2) lack of available land on or adjacent to the military airfield to house civilian operations; and (3) lack of civilian sponsors resulting from either community opposition due to concerns over potential increases in noise, safety risks, and other environmental factors, or the lack of a real need for joint use of the airfield. When these problems can be overcome, GAO found that joint use can be viewed as a feasible option. GAO was not able to determine the cost and development requirements for making military airfields available for future joint use because the data needed to perform the analysis were either not available or were not current. However, GAO identified factors that must be included in making such an assessment. While GAO concurs that the potential exists for considerable savings, it questions the reliability of the Federal Aviation Administration's $1.5 billion figure.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in performing the required study to evaluate military airfields for potential joint use, establish that a valid need exists for civilian use of a military airfield, taking into account such matters as capacity constraints, airspace congestion, and safety in the area where joint use is proposed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in performing the required study to evaluate military airfields for potential joint use, establish that a valid need exists for civilian use of a military airfield, taking into account such matters as capacity constraints, airspace congestion, and safety in the area where joint use is proposed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in performing the required study to evaluate military airfields for potential joint use, identify and assess any adverse impact on military mission, operations, and security.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in performing the required study to evaluate military airfields for potential joint use, identify and assess any adverse impact on military mission, operations, and security.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in performing the required study to evaluate military airfields for potential joint use, determine if land is available to house civilian operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in performing the required study to evaluate military airfields for potential joint use, determine if land is available to house civilian operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, for cases where these issues have been dealt with and joint use is considered operationally feasible, determine whether community opposition exists in cooperation with the civilian sponsor and, if so, attempt to resolve it.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, for cases where these issues have been dealt with and joint use is considered operationally feasible, determine whether community opposition exists in cooperation with the civilian sponsor and, if so, attempt to resolve it.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in evaluating military airfields for potential joint use, estimate cost and development requirements by, at a minimum, identifying, developing, and analyzing the following factors: (1) number and type of civilian and military aircraft proposed to use the airfield; (2) number of operations proposed; (3) services to be provided (maintenance, fuel); (4) structures to be built (hangers, canopies, terminals); (5) land to be acquired; (6) parking area needed (aircraft, automobile); (7) access roads to be constructed; (8) ramps, taxiways, and aprons required; and (9) security measures required (fences, guards).

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, in evaluating military airfields for potential joint use, estimate cost and development requirements by, at a minimum, identifying, developing, and analyzing the following factors: (1) number and type of civilian and military aircraft proposed to use the airfield; (2) number of operations proposed; (3) services to be provided (maintenance, fuel); (4) structures to be built (hangers, canopies, terminals); (5) land to be acquired; (6) parking area needed (aircraft, automobile); (7) access roads to be constructed; (8) ramps, taxiways, and aprons required; and (9) security measures required (fences, guards).

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, after analyzing the above factors and identifying military airfields that are operationally feasible for joint use, prepare a detailed cost-benefit analysis to determine whether developing each airfield for joint use would be cost effective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Defense and Transportation should, after analyzing the above factors and identifying military airfields that are operationally feasible for joint use, prepare a detailed cost-benefit analysis to determine whether developing each airfield for joint use would be cost effective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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