Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL) is a vibrant, rapidly growing aviation facility that’s home to the world-famous NOAA Hurricane Hunters, the Sun-N-Fun International Fly-In, the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, and aerospace programs at Polk State College.
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With more than 125,000 aircraft operations annually, LAL’s regional economic impact is over $574 million. The airport’s focus on smart growth has targeted air service, increased aircraft maintenance and repair activity, domestic and international air cargo, and increased military and general aviation operations for continued expansion and economic development opportunities.
ESA provides as-needed environmental support for numerous projects at Lakeland Linder Airport, a dynamic Part 139 airport that is home to a wide range of aviation businesses and events.
Following the recent completion of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance and comprehensive permitting for a large multi-phase intermodal and cargo complex, ESA is supporting LAL with environmental clearances and compliance as the project continues to evolve.
ESA also completed an Environmental Assessment for the relocation and construction of a new 145-foot tower Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) in an expedited timeframe to ensure that facility was operational for the annual Sun n’ Fun fly-in event. ESA also assisted with ATCT permitting, working with various agencies to avoid wetlands and to relocate dozens of protected gopher tortoises from the project area to a protected site.
In 2013, ESA completed a Wildlife Hazard Assessment (WHA) and developed a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan (WHMP) for inclusion in the airport’s Part 139 certification. After the FAA approved the WHMP in 2014, ESA conducted Wildlife Hazard Management Training for compliance with Part 139 and continues to support the airport’s ongoing wildlife management program.
Other NEPA and regulatory compliance projects completed by ESA over the past five years include an environmental assessment (EA) for an Instrument Landing System (ILS) relocation; EA for a 30-acre solar farm; categorical exclusion for a new turf runway and airfield improvements; line-of-site and Runway Protection Zone tree clearing; and onsite mitigation design, permitting, and implementation.
ESA manages the implementation, maintenance, monitoring, and reporting for two onsite wetland creation areas, providing all compliance and land management services. As new projects are proposed, ESA works with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, U.S. Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other stakeholders to implement cost-effective and sustainable mitigation strategies.
Commercial airports all over the country share the same mission: to provide high-quality, safe air travel services. Their success often drives regional economic development as business travelers, tourists, and the transport of goods rely heavily on these “mini cities.”
As airport planners and environmental specialists, ESA’s airport specialists are always keeping an eye on new trends that affect airport operations. Two trends that we have been tracking are upgauging and NextGen. Upgauging is a trend in the airline industry that has had a profound effect on the growth in passenger traffic at airports throughout the world.