Fact Sheet

ASE Airport Modernization Facts

What is an Airport Layout Plan (ALP) and why do we need one?

  • A graphical presentation of the existing and future airport facilities, their location on the airport campus, and pertinent clearance and dimensional information.
  • The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) uses information in the ALP to program future funding assistance and monitor the airport’s compliance with design standards and grant assurances.
  • An ALP also allows the FAA to anticipate budgetary and procedural needs, and to protect the airspace required for facility or aircraft approach procedure improvements.
  • An approved ALP is required by all airports in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NIPAS). NIPAS includes the 3,300 busiest public use airports in the United States.

How does an updated ALP change things at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport?

  • The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) is currently operating under a plan approved in 2016 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that shifts its runway, not the taxiway.
  • Without an updated ALP ASE’s existing plan remains the blueprint for the future.
  • ASE’s approved ALP lists critical aircraft as “To Be Determined”; however, the FAA has stated the facility must be available to Airport Design Group (ADG)-III aircraft.
  • An ADG-III airport could accommodate aircraft at the larger end of the Design Group III spectrum.
  • The community realized the approved 2016 ALP needed an overhaul and met for nearly two years during an ASE Vision Process to pinpoint a set of community goals to inform an updated ALP. At the airport, staff worked with the FAA on an update both entities could support.
  • The updated ALP works to weave in aspirations from the vision process.
  • In the update, the airfield shift happens on the taxiway, not the runway and the critical aircraft is an Airbus A220‐300, which is cleaner, quieter, and more comfortable for passengers than the jet commercial airlines most often use now at ASE. It also has more modern avionics, which would likely result in fewer flight delays and cancellations.
  • The existing ALP calls for the development of a new 140,000-square-foot passenger terminal; the updated ALP envisions a smaller terminal, between 75,000 and 90,000 square feet.

What is a Fleet Mix or Aircraft Forecast?

  • A 20-year forecast of aviation activity at the airport developed by using industry-standard forecasting methods and based on the data forecast.
  • Additional factors considered in its development were the community’s feedback and input from the Common Ground Recommendations and the visioning process, as well as input and feedback from the FAA.
  • The forecast created for the ALP update was approved by the BOCC in July 2023.

Why does the airport need to be modernized or changed?

  • The FAA requires design standards, based on safety. The FAA has requested changes to adhere to these safety standards at ASE, currently operating under a modification to a design standard.
  • The standard separation for a runway and taxiway for a design group three airport is 400 feet.
  • ASE operates with a 320-foot separation.
  • The FAA has stated to keep commercial service ASE needs to meet Group III airport design standards. That means increasing the runway and taxiway separation by 80 feet.

What is the FAA’s role in ASE’s modernization?

  • FAA’s role is to really provide advice and guidance. Monitoring where ASE is from grant assurances and partnering on funding.
  • When it comes to desired changes on the airfield at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, the community has little input, the airside is the FAA’s realm.
  • The FAA ensures safety standards are met and area airspace is protected.
  • Because the airfield, for all intents and purposes, is under the control of the FAA, an updated ALP is important since the community was very clear it did not support the approved 2016 ALP.


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