Airport Design Project

In this project connected with the study of forces and wind, students are required to locate and site a new airport for a major American city.


When runways (and new airports) are built, their layout is influence by many factors:

  • Federal Aviation regulations
  • Environmental concerns
  • Noise level impacts
  • Terrain and soil considerations
  • Natural and man-made obstructions
  • Annual weather patterns
  • Size and performance characteristics of the airplanes that will use the runways

You will find additional information about airport design at:

Your assignment:

Locate and site a new airport for your Mobile App city. You will use either the Greater Rochester International Airport in Rochester, NY or the Nashville International Airport as a model.

Steps to Success, Part 1: Locating Your New Airport

  1. Research the size of the Greater Rochester International Airport, including the terminal, runways and parking. You can assume that the rental car facilities are off site. You will need the square footage/acreage for the airport.
  2. For your city, research annual weather patterns, specifically average wind direction and average wind speed. It is best to represent this information as a wind rose.

A wind rose is a graphic tool used by meteorologists to give a succinct view of how wind speed and direction are typically distributed at a particular location. You will need this information for your airport design as the prevailing wind direction and speed are critically important to your location.

  1. Research an appropriate open space for your airport in your city. Here is where you need to be careful in that, for most cities, there is not a lot of open space available to you. Within reason, you may take property by eminent domain as the location of a new airport is for the greater good. But still choose your location wisely.
  2. Use Google Maps to find an appropriate location. Remember, the airport needs to be convenient – and near major highways. You may assume the feeder roads are built for free.
  3. Consider the environmental impact of your airport.
  4. You also need to consider how to orient the runways and the terminals. The information on the NASA Virtual Skies website gives you an idea of how to connect prevailing winds with the location of the runways.
  5. In the end, you must be able to fully justify the location of your new airport.



  1. Each student is required to print a 3D topographical map using Terrainator to show the location of their airport.
  2. Each student is provided with a Google Map image of either the Rochester or Nashville airports.  They are required to overlay and resize this image in Google Earth using these guidelines.
  3. The new airport needs to be given an appropriate name.
  4. Each student will create a 60 second video/press conference announcing their new airport.