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Impacts of Land Use on the Tinson Pen

The transport sector in Jamaica may be considered to include road, rail, air and maritime transportation (See Figure 1 – Appendix 6). The Ministry of Housing, Transport, Water and Works (MHTWW) has prepared a draft National Transport Policy to provide a framework for the future development of the sector. As it pertains to air transportation, Jamaica’s air transport system comprises an international system and a domestic system. The three (3) main entities in the air transport sector are the Aviation Service Providers such as airports, air traffic services, aircraft maintenance organizations, airlines and AEROTEL; Users of air transport, such as passengers and shippers, and the Regulator, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA). The service providers and regulator facilitate air transportation in Jamaica in a manner that conforms with international best practices stipulated by the United Nations body responsible for civil aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The 1974 enactment of the Airports Authority Act transferred to the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), responsibilities for the ownership, management and commercial functions of the two (2) international airports – Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) and the Sangster International Airport (SIA). In 1997, AAJ’s responsibility was expanded to incorporate the four (4) active domestic aerodromes – Boscobel, Ken Jones, Negril and the Tinson Pen. One of the primary responsibilities of the AAJ is to oversee the expansion and modernization of facilities at the island’s international and domestic aerodromes.

Special emphasis will be placed on Tinson Pen aerodrome for the purpose of this research. Essentially the critical issue to be addressed is the impact that existing and proposed land uses have had on the operations of the Tinson Pen aerodrome. The rational for selecting the Tinson Pen aerodrome is contingent upon the fact that the Tinson Aerodrome represents a critical support system in Jamaica’s domestic air transportation system. Located on Marcus Garvey Drive Kingston, Tinson Pen Aerodrome is used for general aviation, commuter and charter flights courier services and flight training and aircraft maintenance services. It currently provides these services from operators including International Airlink, Wings Jamaica Limited, Caribbean Aviation Centre, Island Aviation Service, Air Speed Limited, Strescon and Tara Courier. It is the largest of the country’s four domestic aerodrome; It is adjacent to the Kingston Wharves, one of the largest trans-shipment port in the English-speaking Caribbean and a major highway which has improved regional connectivity. It is a vital commercial link between Kingston and Montego Bay. Whether it is by commercial or general aviation, access to aviation plays a key role in the conduct of daily business throughout the country. Close proximity to airports increases opportunities for corporations and industries doing business in Kingston and St Andrew by permitting safe, efficient, and cost-effective travel for business passengers and freight. In light of Jamaica’s geographic location, the island is vulnerable to Hurricanes. The first facilities to become incapacitated are the two international airports due to their close proximity to the sea. However Norman Manley International has a greater vulnerability because it is located on a peninsula which continues to be severely inundated subsequent to the passage of hurricanes. However the Tinson Pen aerodrome has survived all of the major disasters and as a result has emerged as a critical back up facility to the Norman Manley International Airport. This manifested itself after hurricane Ivan when relief supplies had to be flown out of Tinson Pen because the Palisadoes was impassable. Despite greater emphasis from the government being placed on international air transportation the importance of revitalizing domestic air transportation has also been on the Governments agenda. According to the National Transport Policy Final Draft the strategic objectives outline the need to promote an efficient and productive aviation industry which will compete domestically and internationally and facilitate the development and commercialisation of the domestic aerodromes. Essentially, if Jamaica is to reinvigorate domestic air travel special attention must be directed to the understanding the impact that land use has on our aerodromes operation, how to assess these impacts and identify various mitigation strategies to protect our aerodromes.

Tinson Pen has to contend with a myriad of developments occurring adjacent to the Kingston Waterfront including the Port expansion, Highway 2000, Marcus Garvey Road Improvements, Factories Corporation of Jamaica, communities such as Greenwich Farm, Union Gardens and Majestic Gardens. In understanding the impacts that these and other land uses have on the Tinson Pen aerodrome, creates the opportunity for future development initiatives in the domestic air transportation to follow a rational planning process to ensure aerodrome are an efficient, functional and integrated part of the air transportation system.

Problem Statement

The underlying issue as it relates to the Tinson Pen aerodrome is in relation to the possible occurrence of incompatible land use within the airport environs that may have a negative impact on the airport’s operations with regards to airport noise, public safety, and airspace protection

Research Goal

To examine the need for land use planning for existing land use and potential developments within the study area related to the Tinson Pen aerodrome. The proposition will identify and examine current and future incompatible land uses within the airport environs, which may conflict with the proposed airport’s operations in relation to noise, public safety and airspace protection.

Research Objectives

  • To determine the Tinson Pen airport locality boundaries
  • To examine the importance of domestic aerodromes as an integrated part of the air transportation system
  • To identify the existing land use within the airport locality
  • To examine current land usage within the study area and any proposed developments by private, government or NGOs and what impact they may have on the proposed airports operations.
  • To identify land use control methods that will ensure the protection of the airports operations and the reciprocal protection of land use within the airports locality.
  • To assess the applicability of land use control measures that minimize the public’s exposure to excessive noise and safety hazards within areas around the Tinson Pen Aerodrome.
  • To examine the roles and responsibilities of the state, local governments, private sector organizations and the local community in land use compatibility planning and implementation.
  • To identify and examine the effectiveness of current local and international regulations, legislation and polices related to airport operations and land use compatibility planning.

Research Questions

  • What is the importance of the Tinson Pen aerodrome to Jamaica’s Air Transportation system?
  • What is the current land usage within the study area and any proposed developments by private, government or NGOs and how will they impact on the airports operations?
  • How compatible are the adjacent development/land use compatible with aviation related activities?
  • To what extent can land use within the airport locality be reserved for compatible uses?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the state, local governments, private sector organizations and the local community and to what extent are they exercised in land use compatibility planning and implementation for airports in Jamaica?
  • Is there any legislation and regulations related to airport operations and land use compatibility planning and how important is it to have this legal framework established?
  • How effective can zoning ordinances/regulations facilitate airport operations



Jamaica’s air transportation infrastructure consists of the two international airports; Norman Manley and Sangster International along with four domestic aerodromes which are Tinson Pen, Boscobel, Ken Jones and Negril. From a macro-economic perspective both international airports are critical to Jamaica economic viability. Access to aviation is essential to the business traveler, an aid to the farmer, and an unparalleled convenience to the tourist. As it relates to domestic aerodromes, The degree to which our domestic aerodromes have been integrated into the transport system is questionable and may be linked to the unfortunate reality that the development of the transportation system has been taking place in the absence of a comprehensive, well articulated National Transport Policy that should guide its overall development; and ensure that specific transportation initiatives such as the Tinson pen aerodrome are integrated into an overall vision for economic and social development.

The critical issue faced by airports both domestic and international airports across the world is the origination of land use conflicts within airport locality because of inadequate zoning and land use planning FAA Airports Division (1999). According to Federal Aviation Administration (1998) in the article “Airport Compatible Land Use” it outlined the fact that in the United States (USA) this failure to protect the airport environs has led to the loss of many airports from their national inventory of landing facilities. In the past five years, an average of over 60 public-use landing facilities has been lost every year. The article highlighted the fact that the calls to close the airports identified zoning laws or the lack thereof as a major contributor. This problem by extension has manifested itself at the Tinson Pen aerodrome. In particular, the problems include the port expansion, road developments, encroachment of communities to name a few. This literature review seeks give context to the issues faced at the Tinson Pen aerodrome by sourcing literature which examine the importance of domestic aerodromes in the air transport system, show all the critical processes and components of Land use planning for airports, examine the impact that land use conflicts have on aerodrome operation, examine the roles and responsibilities of the state, local governments, private sector organizations and the local community in land use compatibility planning and implementation and how effective local and international regulations, legislation and polices are to airport operations and land use compatibility planning.

Determination of Airport Locality Boundaries

According to the Virginia Department of Aviation (2006), to implement effective land use planning and control measures around airports, it is necessary to identify specific planning boundaries. These boundaries will define the airport environs for land-use planning purposes. It highlighted the fact that it is important for airport owners, elected officials, land-use planners and developers to understand the components of an effective compatible airport land-use plan. A comprehensive plan will incorporate federal and state airport design criteria, safety of flight requirements and land use provisions unique to the community. The Department of Aviation made reference to the need to accurately represent airport boundaries, recommending that Safety Zones, Standard Traffic Patterns, Overflight Areas, Noise Contours and FAR Part 77 height restriction criteria be considered by land-use planners when developing zoning ordinances, airport overlay districts and comprehensive land-use plans for their community. A comprehensive plan for airport-compatible land-uses should include an area large enough to consider all these factors.

Airport Master Plan

The Airport Master Plan is a document that details the long-term development of an airport. The plan includes the information, analyses, and resulting decisions and policies guiding the future development of an airport, typically over a 20-year planning period. To meet future demands, the need for facilities on the public side and airfield side of an airport must be detailed in advance, based on an established approach for determining need and possible impacts to the community, with a plan for implementation and funding FAA (1998). Updates to the original master plan are required to document significant changes in policies or development needs. Through the preparation of a master plan, justification can be established, alternatives reviewed, public comment received, and a policy set for the future so that subsequent land use decisions can be compared against an established plan.

Essential elements of the airport master plan are outlined in FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5070-6, Airport Master Plans, (1985). Although each airport and community that an airport serves are unique, there are standard elements of any airport master planning process. These elements include the following:

Inventory of Existing Facilities and Airspace

This initial step in the airport master planning process identifies and establishes a database of existing airport facilities, and reviews information about the airport service area, the surrounding communities, and the existing airspace and navigational aids. An historical review of aeronautical activity, development of facilities, and community issues is also included. This inventory of facilities and services establishes a base against which to compare future development.

Forecasts of Anticipated Growth in Activity

Information is collated on the numbers of operations (take-offs and landings), passengers, based aircraft, and cargo tonnage moved; socioeconomic data; national trends affecting airport growth; and other information are collected for consideration in preparing aviation demand forecasts. The forecast years are typically in five-year increments with a planning horizon of 20 years. The forecasts needed include enplanements, local and itinerant operations, based aircraft, cargo and mail tonnage, and peak-hour characteristics for passengers and operations. Based on the type of airport being studied, forecasts of international and domestic passengers and projections of air carrier and commuter operations may also be required.

Demand/Capacity Analysis

The capacity of various airport facilities discussed in the facility inventory is compared to the future demand for these facilities as supported by the aviation demand forecasts. Airside capacity is determined and compared with aircraft demand forecasts to determine the need for and timing of new runways, runway extensions, taxiways, or additional navigational aids that will increase capacity. Airspace capacity is also examined based on projected aircraft fleet mix, the proposed runway configuration, the locations of other airports in the area, and the types of operations (instrument approaches and visual approaches).

Terminal area capacity needs are determined for terminal areas and gates, curbside, and public and employee automobile parking. Surface access capacity for surface roads into and out of the airport, including terminal areas, cargo areas, and general aviation facilities, must be reviewed to determine what future capacity is available in the roadway system. Demand for other facilities on the airport, such as fuel farms, cargo areas, maintenance areas, and general aviation facilities is also determined. Lastly, revenue-producing non-aviation uses, such as industrial parks, and hotels, may also be reviewed. The need for any of these facilities is balanced against the availability of land to meet future airport needs and consideration of what is the highest and best use of available land. In addition, the timing of the improvements must be considered based on need and available funding.


Because options frequently exist as to how to serve the future needs of an airport’s service area, an analysis of alternatives that can meet the projected growth while achieving community goals is conducted as a critical part of the master planning process. The alternatives analysis results in a recommendation for the most reasonable development approach that maintains an acceptable mix of airport-related land uses, considers airspace and environmental concerns, and remains responsive to community concerns.

Environmental Analysis

Existing and potential environmental impacts, and any possible mitigation of adverse environmental impacts, must be considered during the master planning process. This portion of the master plan, while not to the detail required in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement as outlined by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), should provide an overview of environmental issues and potential mitigation to be considered with the implementation of the selected airport development plan.

Plan Implementation

A schedule for development and review of available funding is required-with the selection of a preferred alternative for airport development. The financial feasibility of the implementation of the master plan development must be considered, including both capital and ongoing operating costs. Five-, 10-, and 20-year development plans are provided with a more Page V-5 V. Airport and Local Land Use Planning Processes detailed look at the shorter-term (five-year) projects to be included in the airport capital improvement program.

Airport Layout Plan

According to the California Airport Land Use Planning Handbook (2002) a compatibility plan should contain a drawing showing the locations of existing and proposed airport runways, runway protection zones, property boundaries, and any other features which have implications for land use compatibility as aforementioned. However it also identifies the fact that these drawing may be a formal airport layout plan prepared by the airport proprietor as part of an airport master plan or other planning process and alternatively, it can be a more simplified drawing emphasizing the airport’s fundamental features. This information is a critical component to be retrofitted to this research. It is predicated upon the fact that current airport layout plan is not available for the Tinson Pen aerodrome. This happens as a result of the airport proprietor not keeping it current and is particularly common for small, privately owned facilities where no layout plan may have ever been prepared.

Adopted Master Plan Exists

The California Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics generally does not become involved when a long-range master plan has been adopted by the agency owning the airport and the plan is reasonably current. If the master plan is old, the layout plan contained in it may need to be updated to reflecting recent construction. Such updates should then be submitted to the Division of Aeronautics for approval. Another situation which sometimes arises is that an airport master planning process is being conducted concurrently with the preparation or updating of a compatibility plan. If the master plan is expected to propose airport development which could have airport compatibility implications, it may be advantageous for the compatibility plan to include policies which take into account the anticipated changes. However, the compatibility plan still needs to be based upon the master plan which is in effect.

Airport Layout Plan Available

When a master plan does not exist or was never adopted by the airport owner, but an airport layout plan is available, the Division of Aeronautics is responsible for reviewing the plan and any associated activity projections for currency and suitability for airport land use planning purposes. The Division of Aeronautics may suggest modifications to the plan if deemed necessary.

No Airport Plan Exists

When no plan exists, the commission typically will need to prepare a simplified or diagrammatic airport layout drawing on which to base its land use compatibility plan. Such drawings need not be detailed. The only components essential to show are ones which may have off-airport compatibility implications—specifically: runways, runway protection zones, airport property lines and traffic patterns. Also, because lack of an airport layout plan mostly occurs only with regard to low-activity, often privately owned, airports for which few changes are anticipated, the plan merely needs to reflect the existing conditions.

Typical Airport Traffic pattern

Specific areas to be considered at and around airports are defined by two major Federal Aviation Administration criteria: Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 77 – Objects Affecting Navigable Airspace and FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-13 Airport Design Standards. These two primary documents provide the form the basis for delineating the limits of the environs affected by aircraft near airports.

FAR Part 77 establishes standards for determining which structures pose potential obstructions to air navigation. It does this by establishing standards for defining obstructions to navigable airspace. These airspace areas are referred to as “Imaginary Surfaces.” Objects affected include existing or proposed objects of natural growth, terrain, or permanent or temporary construction including equipment that is permanent or temporary in character. The imaginary surfaces outlined in FAR Part 77 include Primary Surface

Transitional Surface

Horizontal Surface

Conical Surface

Approach Surface

FAR Part 77 clearly defines these surfaces as follows:

Primary Surface: The primary surface is longitudinally centered on a runway. When the runway has a specially prepared hard surface, the primary surface extends 200 feet beyond each end of that runway. When the runway has no specially prepared hard surface, or planned hard surface, the primary surface terminates at each end of the runway. The width of a primary surface ranges from 250 feet to 1,000 feet depending on the existing or planned approach and runway type (i.e., visual, non precision, or precision).

Transitional Surface: Transitional surfaces extend outward and upward at right angles to the runway centerline and are extended at a slope of seven (7) feet horizontally for each foot vertically (7:1) from the sides of the primary and approach surfaces. The transitional surfaces extend to where they intercept the horizontal surface at a height of 150 feet above the runway elevation. For precision approach surfaces, which project through and beyond the limits of the conical surface, the transitional surface also extends a distance of 5,000 feet measured horizontally from the edge of the approach surface and at right angles to the runway centerline. depict the dimensional requirements of the transitional surface.

Horizontal Surface: The horizontal surface is a horizontal plane located 150 feet above the established airport elevation, covering an area from the transitional surface to the conical surface. The perimeter is constructed by swinging arcs from the center of each end of the primary surface and connecting the adjacent arcs by lines tangent to those areas. The radius of each arc is 5,000 feet for all runway ends designated as utility or visual, or 10,000 feet for all other runway ends.

Conical Surface: The conical surface is a surface extending upward and outward from the periphery of the horizontal surface at a slope of one foot for every 20 feet (20:1) for a horizontal distance of 4,000 feet.

Approach Surface: Longitudinally centered on the extended runway centerline, the approach surface extends outward and upward from the end of the primary surface. An approach surface is applied to each end of each runway based upon the type of approach. The approach slope of a runway is a ratio of 20:1, 34:1, or 50:1, depending on the sophistication of the approach. The length of the approach surface varies, ranging from 5,000 feet to 50,000 feet. The inner edge of the approach surface is the same width as the primary surface and expands uniformly to a width ranging from 1,250 feet to 16,000 feet depending on the type of runway and approach.

Compatible Land Uses

According to the Wisconsin Department of Aviation (2002), the types of airport compatible land uses depend on the location and size of the airport, as well as the type and volume of aircraft using the facility. Most commercial industrial uses, especially those associated with the airport, are good neighbors. Land uses where the airport creates the demand, such as motels, restaurants, warehouses, shipping agencies, aircraft related industries, as well as industries that benefit from access to an airport, are compatible land uses. At airport locations where there is not now a demand for these uses near the airport, communities may find it desirable to promote the use of this land for commercial or industrial use through a program of aids and incentives. Buildings and structures must not obstruct the aerial approaches to the airport, interfere with aircraft radio communications, or affect a pilot’s vision due to glare or bright lights. Motels, restaurants and office buildings should also be soundproofed to make them more comfortable and attractive to clientele and employees. Other uses compatible with airports are large parks, conservatory areas and other open spaces. These land uses are created for public purposes and are opportunities for local government bodies to provide a compatible land use. Forestry services, landscape services, game preserves and some extractive industries such as mining and excavation are also land uses considered compatible with airports. Agriculture is another land use that is compatible with airport operations. While some types of animal farming are sensitive to aircraft noise, most agricultural uses are not adversely affected by airport operations. Agricultural land also allows the owner of property near the airport to make an efficient use of the land while benefiting the community in terms of airport protection.

Incompatible Land Uses

Incompatible airport land uses include residential development, schools, community centers, libraries, hospitals, religious service buildings, and tall structures. Residential housing is the most prevalent urban land use, and also the use most incompatible with aircraft operations. As residential developments fill the vacant or former agricultural land between the urban settlement and the airport, the possibility of the residential developments restricting the airport’s potential increases. Residential growth restricts the airport by acquiring the land needed for expansion and by removing the buffer between the airport and residential neighborhoods. This buffer is important because it diminishes the impact of aircraft noise and lessens the possibility of an airplane accident in the residential neighborhood. As residential uses expand into this area around the airport, homeowners inevitably express concerns regarding safety and noise. Wisconsin experienced a strong population growth during the 1990’s, gaining almost 400,000 new residents. Metropolitan counties showed the most rapid growth. During a period of strong or rapid growth, residential uses have often developed too close to an airport. However, with careful planning there is no reason for the continued encroachment on the airport by this type of incompatible land use.

Residential neighborhoods, schools, churches and other similar land uses are the most susceptible to the side effects of aircraft operations. It is neither in the interest of the homeowner nor the community to locate these uses where they will be subject to the greatest impact of aircraft takeoffs and landings. It is clearly in the public interest that action should be taken to prevent this land use conflict. Because this research seeks to highlight the impacts that land use have on the operations of the Tinson Pen, the aim is to identify the reciprocal effect of the aerodrome. Therefore the focus for the issue regarding residential communities locating near airports is not the associated noise impact on the community but the reciprocation of complaints which may apply pressure for an airport’s closure. Other examples of incompatible land uses around airports include wetland mitigation, retention ponds, and land fills. These may appear to be good land uses around an airport but are restricted or could possibly be associated with wildlife hazards. Caution should also be exercised with wildlife preserves located near airports due to the possible wildlife hazards associated with them. The sound made by aircraft is a primary consideration in the determination of compatible land uses. Technical improvements in aircraft engines, flight paths that detour around populated areas, and changes in landing and takeoff procedures have continued to reduce the impact of aircraft noise. Aircraft will always create a level of noise that will make some land uses in the proximity of the airport incompatible.

Compatibility Concerns

The California Airport Land use compatibility handbook (2002) explained that airport land use compatibility concerns fall under two broad headings identified in state law: noise and safety. However, for the purposes of formulating airport land use compatibility policies and criteria, further divided these concerns into four categories. These categories are noise, safety, overflight and airspace protection.

The ICAO Environmental controls and land use (2001) highlighted the fact that there are basic categories of concern when discussing compatible land uses. The following outlines the top priority items that need to be addressed as part of a land use compatibility program. Some factors to consider include the density of developments and the height of structures. Other conditions to consider when planning for safe airport environs include distracting lights, reflective glare, smoke, dust, induced fog, electronic interference, and bird attractants. These conditions can distract the pilot and interfere with their safe approach and departure from an airport. Land uses that can lead to, or contribute to, these conditions should be discouraged in the airport environs. In particular, proposed development should not be permitted beneath the approach surface of a runway if that development generates any of the potentially hazardous conditions described in the following paragraphs. This is by no means an inclusive list, however, it illustrates the diverse types of land uses that a planner needs to be cognizant of when developing an airport land use plan.

Density Development

A primary means of limiting the risks of damage or injury to persons or property on the ground due to near-airport aircraft accidents is to limit the density of land use development in these areas. The question of where to set these limits is dependent upon both the probability of an accident and the degree of risk that the community finds acceptable. From the previous sections, it is clear that accident probabilities increase with closer proximity to runway ends both because of greater concentration of aircraft over that area and because aircraft are flying at low altitude. The areas where aircraft regularly fly less than 500 feet above the ground are regarded as the most critical. Low flight altitudes present the greatest risks because they offer pilots less opportunity to recover from unexpected occurrences. Because aircraft are turning to follow the traffic pattern, this area encompasses more than just the area beneath the FAR Part 77 approach surface. Turns mostly take place between 2,000 and 5,000 feet from the runway end, dependi

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