Grand Marais/Cook County Airport continue master planning process
Mike Raymond

Grand Marais/Cook County Airport continue master planning process

During the April 20 airport advisory commission meeting, discussions continued regarding the master planning process. 

The Grand Marais/Cook County airport began master planning discussions during the summer of 2022. 

Kelsey Reeves, an aviation planner with RS&H, provided a thorough presentation of the master plan timeline and the draft aviation activity forecast results during the April 20 meeting. RS&H offers architectural design, engineering, and consulting services across a spectrum of industries, including aviation. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states the purpose of the forecasts is to accurately predict future demand by developing assumptions from statistical (econometric) models that explain and incorporate emerging trends for the different segments of the industry. It is a requirement within the master planning process and needs FAA approval.

The results of the draft aviation forecast show that the Grand Marais/Cook County airport has 21 based aircraft, of which 20 are single-engine piston, and 1 is a multi-engine piston. 

The forecast predicts that there will be an increase in diversity and growth across the fleet at the airport in the next twenty years. General aviation operations are anticipated to grow from 3,811 to 4,852 over 20 years, with approximately 30% itinerant and 70% local. In addition, Reeves said he expects growth in multi-engine turboprop aircraft resulting in a potentially more affluent-based airport. 

The growth in diversity in based aircraft will follow the national trend but at a slower pace, Reeves said during the meeting. The national forecast trend predicts the total number of piston aircraft continues to decline. Single-engine aircraft are anticipated to decrease from 123,105 in 2021 to 102,450 by 2041. In comparison, turboprop and turbojet aircraft is expected to increase by .5% to 2.6% in the next twenty years. 

On a local level, the Grand Marais/Cook County airport is expected to see a 1.2 compound annual growth rate in activity over the next twenty years, John Barton, chairman of the airport advisory commission, said. Barton added the results of the aviation forecast are beneficial for planning future airport operations but also help the FAA determine its ability to help with funding. 

The results of the draft aviation forecast will be sent to the FAA for approval. The next phase of the master plan is solutions and implementation. Requirements within this phase include:

  • A facility requirements report.
  • Supplemental inventory studies.
  • Airport layout plans.
  • Financial feasibility studies.
  • An implementation plan. 

Once all the information has been gathered and compiled, the master plan will enter the documentation phase projected for the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024. At that time, the public will be involved for input and comments. 

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with John Barton, the chairman of the airport advisory commission, following the April 20 meeting. Audio from the interview is below.