Potential Joint Civil and Military Use of Military Airfields

Gao ID: RCED-83-98 March 1, 1983

In response to a congressional directive, GAO evaluated the feasibility of making domestic military airports and airport facilities available for joint civilian and military use to the maximum extent compatible with national defense requirements.

GAO found that 23 domestic military airfields now operate under the joint-use concept. Seven of these airfields authorize unrestricted use by all civilian aircraft, while the remaining facilities restrict use to selected types of aircraft or operations. The mix of civilian and military aircraft operating from joint-use airfields ranged from those with very similar characteristics to those with widely differing characteristics. Problems which GAO found in the program included: (1) military concerns that civilian use of the airfield will interfere with military missions, operations, or security; (2) lack of available land on or adjacent to the military airfield to house civilian operations; and (3) lack of civilian sponsors resulting from either community opposition due to concerns over potential increases in noise, safety risks, and other environmental factors, or the lack of a real need for joint use of the airfield. When these problems can be overcome, GAO found that joint use can be viewed as a feasible option. GAO was not able to determine the cost and development requirements for making military airfields available for future joint use because the data needed to perform the analysis were either not available or were not current. However, GAO identified factors that must be included in making such an assessment. While GAO concurs that the potential exists for considerable savings, it questions the reliability of the Federal Aviation Administration's $1.5 billion figure.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Oliver W. Krueger Team: General Accounting Office: Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division Phone: (202) 275-4914

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