In 1975, an aviation and airports system plan was prepared for the State of Delaware. Since that time, several localized aviation planning studies have been undertaken throughout the State and many of Delaware’s public use airports have undergone significant changes in terms of services and facilities. Additionally, air carrier and general aviation demands have changed since the 1975 plan was prepared. As an example of these changes, the Delaware Transportation Authority has entered into a joint-use agreement with the United States Air Force to enable multi-engine aircraft to utilize the runway facilities of Dover Air Force Base. To cope with these changes the Delaware Transportation Authority undertook to update the current plan.
An issue addressed in the Delaware System Plan concerned the questions of airport economic feasibility and implementation. It was imperative that the proposed system study address the problems of airport financing since most general aviation airports are not typically enterprises which produce large amounts of revenue. Most local governments are hard pressed to provide sufficient airport operating revenue and encounter great difficulty at the prospect of funding an airport construction improvement program or acquiring a complete new private facility. A realistic look at the alternative financing programs including sources of revenues, matching ratios, the airport’s costs and benefits, and criteria to be used in formulating fiscal policies was made. Careful attention was given to identifying and describing an economically feasible aviation system which could be implemented, as contrasted to development of a plan which failed to address the realities of programming and implementation.
The Delaware Aviation and Airport System Plan, also, provided a public forum where both public and private aviation interests could discuss individual airport needs and aviation related problems or challenges. Functioning in this manner, the aviation system plan served to create a general awareness of the need for a systematic approach to air transportation planning. Further, this process served to coordinate the efforts of various state agencies, local governments, airport sponsors, and interested aviation groups.