The St. Louis metropolitan area is currently conducting the first regional aviation system plan in the nation under the federal
government's new aviation planning guidelines. This plan is a cooperative effort among the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Illinois Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of
Transportation, and East-West Gateway. Gateway is managing the study. A consulting team led by Edwards & Kelcey with additional expertise provided by InterVistas, Vector
Communications, and Vesta-Rae & Associates has been selected to perform the study.
The primary objective of the study is to develop a St. Louis Metropolitan Aviation System
Plan, which will examine the region's aviation assets and propose a regional approach for the future development of these assets. The study will:
- Identify the region's long-range air transportation needs;
- Make recommendations on how to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of existing and planned aviation assets; and
- Explore mechanisms for regional cooperation and integration in the development and operation of these aviation assets.
While the metropolitan area hosts two public-use commercial airports and eleven public
-use general aviation airports, the study's primary focus will be the region's five major airports: Lambert-St. Louis International; MidAmerica St. Louis; Spirit of St. Louis; St.
Louis Downtown Parks; and St. Louis Regional. These airports span two states – Missouri and Illinois – and fall under the jurisdiction of two different FAA regions. Such
multi-jurisdictional layers can complicate matters, but East-West Gateway is one of a handful of metropolitan planning organizations in the nation that assist the FAA with
regional airport system planning.
As currently designed, this study consists of two phases. Phase I, which is underway
until June 2006, seeks to provide a comprehensive assessment of the current airport facilities, their roles within the region, and airport demand, management and funding. It
will also examine the pressing system and community issues; study the overall regional transportation network; and offer an integrated analysis of the existing system's main
components. These components include the five study airports, the regional transportation network and local population, demographic and socio-economic trends.
Phase II of the study will build upon the information, analysis and public input generated in
Phase I. It will use the data gathered to assess evolving trends within the aviation industry and to evaluate the impact of these trends on the future roles / traffic of the study's
airports. From its findings, the study team will then develop a system plan with recommendations regarding priorities for future development.
Critical to the success of the St. Louis Metropolitan Aviation System Plan is the
implementation of a comprehensive public engagement process. This effort must help citizens and stakeholders understand the planning issues and process so that they are
adequately informed of the study's activities and can contribute to its findings in meaningful ways. Throughout the entire span of Phase I of this project, public
engagement activities will be ongoing as a means of helping the study team to identify and clarify important community issues. To this end, the study team has conducted
close to 30 stakeholder interviews with local aviation experts, planning officials and economic development interests. It has also facilitated four focus groups with business
associations in Missouri and Illinois as another method of gaining value information from private sector users of the region's aviation assets.
In addition to the stakeholder interviews and the focus groups, the study team developed a
Study Advisory Committee (SAC) made up of the region's airport directors, business community members and federal, state and local government officials. Members of this committee:
- Serve as advisors to the process;
- Provide input on technical data;
- Provide input on public engagement and public comments; and
- Serve as study ambassadors.
During Phase I, the SAC will meet three times. The first SAC meeting was held on
September 30, 2005. At this meeting, members learned of and helped to refine the study's key objectives as well as articulated their expectations of the study. The second
meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 16, 2006 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. At this meeting, the study team will present the
data it has collected from its inventory of the current system, economic and demographic trends analysis, regional transportation system analysis, and public engagement activities.
For more information, contact Jerry Blair, Director of Transportation Planning for East
-West Gateway Council of Governments at (314) 421-4220.