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Director's Chair: The Value of System Planning

November 06, 2023 13:34 | Anonymous

Benjamin Franklin’s timeless quote, “Those who fail to plan... are planning to fail,” rings true in both our daily and professional lives. True success rarely occurs by chance; it demands a concerted effort to identify challenges, explore potential solutions, and ultimately chart a course with confidence towards our desired destination.

Within the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, one of our key responsibilities lies in shaping the vision and strategy for our state’s aviation system. Presently, we are gearing up for a significant undertaking by updating multiple statewide aviation system plans. These strategic initiatives will play a pivotal role in helping our state identify, prioritize, and justify projects and initiatives that are crucial to the enhancement and maintenance of our aviation infrastructure over the next decade.

In 2024, we intend to begin work to provide an update to the Statewide Pavement Condition Index Study, which is a task that our office coordinates routinely every three years.  There currently exists approximately 60 million square feet of pavement at our airports which also represents multi-billion dollars of past investments. Our pavement management system reveals the condition of each pavement section at the public-use airports throughout the state, along with deterioration details, photos, and projected future conditions.  A recommended funding plan is also provided to each airport, to ensure the pavements are maintained in the most cost beneficial way. The pavement inspections will occur on our airports in 2024 and the results are expected to be available by spring of 2025.

Also beginning in 2024, we are planning to initiate an update of both the Economic Impact of Aviation in North Dakota and the North Dakota State Aviation System Plan.

The State Aviation System Plan will evaluate the foundational principles of the previous 2014 study. It will refresh airport inventory data, redefine performance benchmarks, outline development requisites based upon our airport classifications, update system forecasts, and provide recommendations to guide our aviation system for the future.

The Economic Impact of Aviation Study will offer an updated perspective of the economic value of our airports and aviation industry.  It will build upon the economic snapshot last captured in 2015 and will provide a detailed analysis of the substantial economic contributions that our airports make to our state and local communities. The 2015 study revealed that our 89 public-use airports contributed a staggering $1.6 billion annually to our state’s economy, and we anticipate that those figures will prove to have experienced substantial growth over the past decade.

The final results of both of these studies are planned to be released in the Spring of 2026. Throughout this process, we are also committed to facilitating opportunities for the aviation community and the public to review draft materials and provide comments through an advisory committee and a project website that is planned to be established.

Overall, aviation system planning has the ability to carry profound value for a state.  It provides us with data-backed information that can help us to make informed decisions on where to appropriately invest our time and our resources. This in turn, can result in safer facilities, heightened operational efficiency, and an accelerated pace of economic growth. The benefits of good planning also extends far outside of the aviation sector, as a strong and robust aviation system positively impacts many of our other industries which contribute to the overall development and economic diversification of the state.

Through our due diligence and ongoing efforts to map out a plan for success, we can confidently work together to steer North Dakota’s aviation community in a positive direction.


Kyle Wanner, Director

North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

701-328-9650 |

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