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Highlights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that the number of flights in the United States will increase 20 percent by 2024. It also has identified numerous airports that will need to expand to handle more flights. However, increasing airport capacity and operations poses potentially significant impacts on the environment and quality of life for surrounding communities. This report addresses (1) airports' actions to reduce their environmental impacts, (2) the extent airports believe environmental issues delay development or operational changes, and (3) the strategies airports can adopt to address environmental issues. GAO reviewed pertinent federal laws and regulations; interviewed airport officials, state and local regulatory agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, and community groups for 10 selected airports, as well as federal officials and national industry and advocacy groups; and surveyed the 150 busiest airports as measured by the number of operations. This report does not contain recommendations. A draft was provided to the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and two organizations representing airports and airport officials. GAO incorporated technical clarifications they provided as appropriate.

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