What is a General Aviation Airport?

An airport is an organization that provides transportation of passengers, baggage, cargo, and mail, as well as services for aircraft operations, maintenance facilities, and storage. The airport represents a self-sustaining unit and consists of the airport building or terminal, cargo and storage facilities, hangars, towers, runways and taxiways, parking lots and driveways. Airports are classified according to their purpose, function, size, and types of aircrafts they can accommodate and are categorized based on their size, capacity, purpose, and kind of aircraft they can handle.  

What is a general aviation airport?  

A general aviation airport is a public-use airport that does not have commercial service or has scheduled service with less than 2,500 passenger boardings each year. Typical operations include business flying, personal flying, industrial flying, and charter activity, aerial photography, law enforcement, banner towing, skydiving, sightseeing flights, medivac, organ transplant transport, search and rescue. Those airports can be used for agricultural purposes, such as scrub dusting or mosquito spraying. More than 90 percent of civil aircraft registered in the United States are general aviation aircraft. And, over 80 percent of US-certified pilots operate general aviation aircraft.  

How about PNE?  

Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE) is a general aviation reliever airport for Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). A reliever airport's main purpose is to provide additional capacity and relief for the primary commercial airport in the area. Reliever airports may also reduce the need for capacity by relocating non-jet general aviation activity from a commercial airport. By removing aircraft with lower capacities and slower speeds, the commercial airport is able to operate more flights with larger aircrafts and handle more passengers. This increases the airport's overall efficiency.   

PNE is home to several important aviation tenants for our area, including Leonardo, Tailwinds Flight Education, GQ Aviation, United Refrigeration, Keystone Aerial Surveys, Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Legacy Aviation, and others.    

Furthermore, by dispersing aircraft over a larger area, the reliever airports enhance air traffic throughout the region. Many flights that use PNE would instead use PHL resulting in increased delays for the airlines.   

In the United States, there are approximately 5,000 public-use airports, with about 3,000 of those being general aviation facilities. In addition, there are approximately 14,400 private-use airports. Based on FAA operational data for the calendar year 2022, PNE is the fourth busiest airport in Pennsylvania, following PHL, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster airports. With 95,991 annual operations, PNE ranks 176th in the United States.  

General aviation generates more than $247 billion in economic activity annually and supports 1.2 million jobs across the country. According to a 2022 PennDOT publication, PNE’s economic impact generated 4,097 jobs, $302,395,800 in total payrolls, and $973,966,300 in total output. 


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Christine Ottow
Director of Strategic Communications
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Heather Redfern
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