Goals and Recommendations
In 2020, following the community-driven ASE Vision process, the Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) adopted a resolution informed by the group’s comprehensive Common Ground Recommendations to make the airport safer, quieter, and cleaner. This now serves as a blueprint for Pitkin County and the community to achieve the BOCC’s aspirational goals for the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport over the next 30 years.
In 2021, the Commissioners approved the formation of the Airport Advisory Board to ensure the community recommendations are implemented in the modernization of the airport and the airport’s broader future. Part of this modernization is an update of an Airport Layout Plan (ALP) developed in partnership with the FAA.
Following an approved updated ALP by the FAA, a draft redevelopment roadmap (Capital Improvement Plan) will also be developed. This explains what future projects are and their sequence for development. This roadmap guides the implementation schedule for the airport for approximately the next 10+ years including changes to the runway and taxiway and the design and development of a new passenger terminal.
Goals and recommendations developed by community members and included in Pitkin County Resolution 105-2020:
#1 - Maximize the Safety of Our Airport
- Work with non-airline pilots and insurance providers to encourage and provide training and safety resources related to the unique characteristics and challenges of flying into ASE
- Work with FAA and Airlines on implementing NEXTGEN program, which includes safe clearances, enhanced efficiency, and precision approaches
- Work with the FAA to enhance safety by increasing the separation between aircraft in the air and on the ground (This may reduce flow rate during peak periods)
#2 - Maximize the Sustainability of Our New Airport
- Strive towards carbon neutral/free and tie decisions to the Climate Action Plan
- Implement short and long-term energy goals for airfield, landside and facilities, pursue and optimize renewable energy and storage both onsite and offsite, including ground and roof solar, geothermal, etc. while honoring view planes and open spaces
- Utilize the most energy efficient technologies throughout the landside, terminal, and airside, such as LED lighting
- Include carbon offsets as a strategy to increase the overall sustainability
- Fuel and Emissions
- Establish the most accurate emissions baseline possible as a starting point by using industry best practices and experts in the field. Implement strategies to reduce emissions by at least 30% as soon as possible, but no later than 2030
- Employ both modeling and local monitoring to track GHG and criteria pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates
- Reduce overall use of aviation leaded fuel
- Incorporate biofuels that genuinely reduce the overall carbon footprint
- Pursue other fuel options as they become available
- Create financial incentives through things like landing fees and fuel prices by allocating airport costs from excessive GHG emissions to the aircraft operations that create those costs and, thus, rewarding aircraft operators that meet the airport emission goals
- Emphasize public transportation and commercial flights as first choice solutions
- Maintain and strictly enforce the curfew
- Electrify the airfield for both GA and commercial operations
- Use berms and sound walls to mitigate noise impacts. Use landscaping to enhance the visual appearance of berms and walls
- Incentivize quieter planes
- Other sustainability goals should be pursued to ensure water conservation, elimination of single use items, and promotion of recycling are happening throughout the airport
#3 - Seamless Ground Connectivity
- Increase utilization of RFTA
- Provide internal and external wayfinding to promote transportation modes into town
- Infrastructure encourages electric ground transportation
- Encourage multi-passenger and ride-sharing opportunities in hotel shuttles, taxis and TNCs / ride hailing (Uber/Lyft), reducing reliance on single-occupancy vehicle trips to and from the airport
- Develop airport-specific circulator(s) with luggage capacity connecting to Rubey Park and Brush
- Creek Park and Ride
- Improve baggage transport options for all traveling public to and from the terminal
- Reserve space for future multimodal opportunities which may be included in future planning processes, in concert with the Multi-Modal Upper Valley Transportation Plan
#4 - Improve Airline Service Reliability
- Work with the FAA and Airlines to institute a NEXTGEN and/or a Reservation System for commercial and GA operations during peak periods to protect airline schedules –as part of this, evaluate the past reservation system and reasons for its elimination
- Consider a Peak Period GA Pricing Program (if reservation system isn’t sufficient)
- Seek further actions that other airports may have implemented 5
- East side taxiway and ramp design and moving GA to the north allows airliners to queue up more quickly for take offs
#5 Non-airline Reserved Parking (ramp space)
- Reconfigure GA ramp space to move large GA and Air Taxi to the north end of the airport away from noise-sensitive residential areas
- Provide electrical and tempered air hook-ups at each parking space
- Implement International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) spacing standards
- Avoid crowded “aircraft carrier parking”
- County requires aircraft to plug in and minimize auxiliary power unit (APU) use. If County can’t require plugin, County should subsidize to incentivize plug in use
- Maintain current number of aircraft parking spots to avoid increases in drop and go’s County should add non-airline parking spaces incrementally and measure impacts before adding additional space to reduce drop-and-go’s
- Analyze if the addition of hangars would reduce drop-and-go’s
- Phased incremental approach to construction buildout with space reservations as shown as part of Airport Layout Plan (ALP)
- Reserve space in the ALP for the current number of general aviation aircraft parking spots
#6 - FBO Reflects Community Values
- The new FBO terminal should be designed striving towards carbon neutral/free emissions
- Include the voluntary noise abatement into any design RFP
- Require FBO to convey community character, values and culture in the same way as the commercial terminal when a new GA terminal is constructed
#7 - Build New Terminal
- Meet best practices for travelers and employees, including sterile spaces, pet areas, re-composure areas, overflow area for luggage needs, and operational efficiency
- Create spaces that are peaceful with comfortable, appealing dwell time
- Design terminal around arts and culture that reflect our community
- Locally sourced programming, food, engagement, education from local institutions
- Welcome booth and information desk should be visible and accessible
- Accommodate all levels of mobility
- Build terminal spaces that can handle peak capacity but not the feeling of built for peak capacity
- Integrate helpful technology but don’t let it dominate the visitor experience
- Expand curbside check-in and provide space for automated kiosks
- Sponsor exhibits, local advertisements, (pre)historical exhibits to reflect a cultural and recreational experience
- Sell character
- Promotion of health and environmental ethics – best practice/values including recycling
#8 - Enhance the Traveler and Staff Experience
- Implement traveler satisfaction survey
- County will monitor gate utilization during regular and irregular operations and the impacts on staff
- Design of new terminal shall improve traveler and staff experience and provide sufficient surge capacity for irregular operations
- Emphasize ease of information, efficiency, comfort and service to our airline traveling public
- Have architecture that is both memorable and outstanding that reflects our unique history and vision of the future
- Emphasize our place in the natural world and foster a sense of respect, appreciation and responsibility to the environment
- Continue to promote carbon offset programs
- Develop coordinated strategy for greeting and delivering visitors to Aspen whose flights are diverted and end up arriving and departing by ground transportation after the Airport is closed.
#9 - Open air Jetways
- Jetways may be used, if supported by the future terminal design chosen, with defined parameters as defined by the Board of County Commissioners such as customer comfort, safety, and open-air experience. This will allow for electrical hookups, tempered air, and allow greater accessibility. The County has the authority without federal funds.
- Maintain the visibility of the natural environment.
#10 – Provide and Design for 6 to 8 Gates with Comfortable Waiting Spaces
- Begin the design concept of the terminal and ramp with six (6) functioning gates/jetways with sufficient space to add the additional gates/jetways if necessary for safe and efficient airport operations. Consideration should be given as to impacts on staff as well as passengers when determining number of gates
- A design with six functioning gates and space for two additions will allow for constructing a terminal with the core functions accommodating up to an eight-gate volume.
- Addition of gates/jetways over and above six, either during design or post construction are to be determined upon an Airport Advisory Board recommendation approved by Board of County Commissioners resolution or ordinance after public hearings and input.
- Comfortable gate seating to accommodate every person on the aircraft under normal regular operations.
- Design space to be comfortable with the intent to find a balance between limiting and overbuilt.
#11 - Flexible gates
- Provide 6 to 8 gates for smaller regional aircraft but fewer for larger aircraft. Gates “flex” down for larger aircraft, thus keeping total enplanement/deplanement at approximately the same level, regardless of aircraft size.
- Create a special arrival-only process to facilitate rapid deplaning of flights delayed by weather events and arriving together.
- The Board of County Commissioners upon advice from the Airport Advisory Board, will define parameters and policy for the use of how the gates will be expanded or contracted when the gates become more defined during design.
#12: Replace the current ADGIII Airport Layout Plan with an improved ADGIII Airport Layout Plan that accommodates aircraft that meet community goals
- Commission an updated fleet mix study after allowing airline industry to recalibrate after the disruptions caused by the COVID 19 pandemic
- Negotiate with airlines and FAA to achieve agreements with the county that ASE will be served by aircraft with the following characteristics:
- greenhouse gas and other emissions that are significantly lower than the CRJ-700
- quieter than the CRJ-700 o weight limit of 140,000 MTOW
- seat limitation of no more than 100-120 passengers
- Retain and strengthen the voluntary noise restriction
- Separate the runway from the taxiway by 400′ between centerlines
- Widen the runway to 150′
- Charge the Airport Advisory Board to evaluate the success of the negotiations and/or the outcome of update fleet mix studies and make an alternate recommendation if necessary.
#13 - Leave the runway where it is
- Requires future relocation of tower. Operating exception for GA aircraft movements until the tower is relocated or alternative options (cameras or virtual tower) are implemented.
- Move deicing pads to the east and relocate of surface vehicle parking to the north.
- GA parking on the west side will be required to maintain the same number of GA/Air Taxi parking spaces.
- Future ramp expansion space to be reserved based on “drop and go” analysis.
- With leaving the runway as is, a more methodical approach to begin separation for safety is by phasing the west side GA development. By phasing, the collection of data over time will help determine:
- Whether the need for added ramp space for GA decreases if air taxi operations increase
- If lack of parking space for GA increases or decreases drop and go activity.
#14 - Construction Phasing
- Minimize community disruptions while considering the phasing of various terminal, airfield and landside improvements.
- Time projects based on technical requirements and ability to fund in consideration of new aircraft.
- Terminal is a priority when looking at phasing of overall construction projects.