Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Master Plan Update all about?

An airport master plan is a comprehensive study of an airport that documents the short, medium, and long-term development plans needed to meet future aviation demand. The elements of a master planning process will vary in complexity and level of detail, depending on the size, function, issues, and problems of the individual airport. The overall goal of a master plan is to provide the framework needed to guide future airport development that will cost-effectively satisfy aviation demand, while considering potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts.

The primary objective of the EWB Master Plan Update is to produce a long-term development program which will yield a safe, efficient, economical, and environmentally compliant facility serving the air transportation needs of the City of New Bedford and South Coast area of Massachusetts. The study covers a 20-year planning period through 2030.

This Master Plan Update follows a defined planning process consisting of several interrelated components, including: a project definition and scoping phase; an inventory of existing conditions; a forecast of future aviation activity; a demand-capacity analysis and facility requirements analysis; airport development alternatives and recommended plan; environmental overview of proposed development; an implementation plan including cost estimates, implementation schedule, an updated capital improvement plan (CIP), and financial plan; public information meetings and workshops; final report documentation; and development of an updated Airport Layout Plan (ALP).

The Master Plan study process is recorded in a written Airport Master Plan document.

Why is the Airport updating its master plan?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends airport master plans be updated every five years or as necessary to keep them current. EWB’s master plan was last updated in 1996, fifteen years ago. Since then the Airport has completed several projects, but the 1996 key study findings and recommendations never materialized. Funding shortfalls and significant environmental hurdles associated with a planned runway extension led to the City’s decision to scale back the Airport’s mission which now focuses on enhancing safety systems, fostering business and general aviation.

The aviation industry has also undergone major changes in the last fifteen years. In addition, the MassDOT Aeronautics Division recently completed a study of the Massachusetts Statewide Airport System Plan (MSASP) with its own vision for the Commonwealth’s public use airport system. Therefore, an update of EWB’s Master Plan has been undertaken to evaluate the Airport’s capabilities and role, to forecast future aviation demand, to assess environmental issues associated with future airport projects, and to plan for the timely development of new or expanded facilities that may be required to meet that demand.

Who is conducting the Master Plan Update?

The Airport hired a consulting team led by Airport Solutions Group, LLC (ASG), a full-service aviation consulting company specializing in airport planning and design. ASG provides airport development services and aviation business solutions for clients throughout New England and across the U.S. Our multi-disciplined team of aviation experts is dedicated solely to designing and managing airport development projects. ASG offers a full complement of services including airport planning, engineering, CADD design, project management, and construction administration. We also offer additional expertise in specialty areas of aviation including statewide and regional system planning, project funding, airfield operations and airport security.

The team also includes Wilbur Smith Associates, Inc. (WSA). Wilbur Smith Associates has offered a full complement of aviation services for well over 50 years. They are an industry leader with a broad-based staff of experienced professional engineers, planners and economists. WSA has successfully completed technically-challenging projects for a wide range of airports and airport systems. Their clients range from the nation's largest air carrier facilities to municipal airports in rural areas to entire state airport systems. Their aviation staff is routinely supported by other disciplines within the Firm to provide innovative, full-service aviation consulting.

Rounding out the consulting team is Epsilon Associates, Inc. (Epsilon). Epsilon Associates provides environmental management and permitting services to real estate, energy, industrial and public sector clients including airports and airport consultants. Their reputation for practical strategies, a focused work effort, and successful project outcomes has made Epsilon an industry leader, as reflected by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce award for Business Excellence, conveyed to Epsilon in 2002.

The Master Plan Update is conducted through close coordination with Airport management, stakeholders, the MassDOT Aeronautics Division and FAA, along with input from a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and the general public.

How can I be involved in the Master Plan Update?

Stakeholder involvement and public input are key elements throughout the master planning process. The project includes close coordination with a Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC will include representatives from key airport stakeholders such as airport tenants and fixed-base operators (FBOs), as well as representatives from local business, local neighbors, City Administration & elected officials, among others. Members of the PAC will act as liaisons to their respective constituency. The PAC will identify community concerns, review technical aspects of the consultant’s analyses, and provide comments on technical reports and recommendations developed during the planning process.

In addition to PAC coordination, public workshops, City Council Briefings and briefings at Airport Commission Meetings are planned at various times throughout the study, offering the public an opportunity to learn more about the study and to provide input. The Public Presentations / Workshops page provides information about public workshops and other meetings pertaining to this Master Plan Update.

The public is also encouraged to provide comments at any time through the Comments page on this project website.

How long will it take to complete the Master Plan Update?

It is anticipated that this Master Plan Update will take approximately sixteen (16) months to complete. The master plan should be completed by December 2012.

Who is paying for the Master Plan Update?

The FAA is funding 95% of this Master Plan Update through its Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant program. The remaining funds are split equally (2.5%) between the New Bedford Regional Airport and the MassDOT Aeronautics Division.

How are projects recommended in the Master Plan Update funded?

A variety of funding sources are available for airport development projects. For an airport the size of EWB, federal grants offered through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP) will be the primary funding source for projects detailed in the Master Plan Update. Under AIP, the FAA currently funds up to 95% of eligible project costs, with the remaining 5% split equally between the Airport and MassDOT Aeronautics Division. State grants through MassDOT’s Airport Safety & Maintenance Program (ASMP) may also be used for funding various projects, which typically receive up to 80% of eligible project costs from MassDOT. Local funding sources primarily include retained revenues of the Airport, and additional City funding assistance including proceeds from the issuance of bonds. However private funding can also be expected for private development including private hangars, parking aprons, etc.

This Master Plan Update will include a financial analysis and funding plan for proposed development projects identified in the study.

Are additional studies needed before recommended projects are implemented?

Yes. Each individual project (or group of projects) recommended in the Master Plan Update must undergo various environmental processing requirements pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The level of environmental study required is based on the nature of the proposed project or action and its anticipated environmental impact. The NEPA process considers potential environmental impacts of a proposed project or action and provides additional opportunities for public review and comment.

Projects identified in the Master Plan Update for near-term development (i.e. 0-5 years) will be included in a joint federal / state Environmental Analysis / Environmental Impact Report (EA / EIR). Projects with little-to-no environmental impact may be “pulled out” of the EA/EIR with a Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI); while other projects may require further analysis and study.

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