Tracker 2018

Aeronautics Division Performance

photo credit - Derek Kenney
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What is Aeronautics?

The mission of the Aeronautics Division is to promote aviation throughout the Commonwealth while establishing an efficient, integrated airport system that will enhance airport safety, economic development, and environmental stewardship.

The Aeronautics Division has jurisdiction over the Commonwealth’s 36 public use airports and multiple heliports, private restricted landing areas and seaplane bases - all but Logan and Worcester airports and Hanscom Air Force Base, which are the responsibility of Massport and the U.S. Air Force, respectively. The Division certifies airports and heliports, licenses airport managers, conducts annual airport inspections, and enforces safety and security regulations.

Click the map below to explore public use airports in the Commonwealth.


The additional responsibilities of the Aeronautics Division include:

  • Overseeing the statewide Airport Capital Projects Program;

  • Developing statewide aviation safety programs;

  • Overseeing state-owned navigational aids;

  • Conducting statewide aviation planning studies;

  • Implementing statewide airport security initiatives; and

  • Promoting statewide aviation education.

In addition, Aeronautics also oversees the Drone Program. The mission of the MassDOT Aeronautics Drone Program is to facilitate the adoption of drones across MassDOT in a manner that is safe, cost-effective, and secure, and to incentivize applied research to solve drone challenges. Drones will have a wide variety of applications for transportation to include construction site imagery, asset management, inspections, and incident response. In these use cases and more, drones are expected to improve safety, reduce task times, improve the quality of data, and reduce cost. The Drone Program has laid a strong policy-driven foundation, and is executing an operationally focused effort to build practical capabilities, gain field experience, while also using experiential learning to improve and solidify the foundation.

Below is a video introducing this program.

MassDOT has undertaken a systematic and comprehensive approach to unmanned aerial systems opportunities and challenges. In 2016, the MassDOT Aeronautics division completed an analysis of other states' DOT's drone programs, including the identification of policy, preferred uses, opportunities, and best practices. Working with the UMass Transportation Center, a concurrent analysis evaluated counter-drone technologies, challenges, and threats, designed to provide situational awareness and protection from drones that are flown in unauthorized locations, such as airport approach and landing corridors. In 2017, the MassDOT Aeronautics division embarked on a formal program to evaluate the use of unmanned aerial systems, or drones, to support MassDOT missions in a safe, cost-effective, and secure manner. The Drone Program team interviewed representatives from the MassDOT Highway, Rail and Transit, and Aeronautics divisions, as well as the MBTA, to identify and prioritize drone use cases and to evaluate the benefits. The team also performed a series of demonstration flights that showcased how drones can be used to inspect airport runways, evaluate the underside of bridges, inspect subway tunnels, and support incident response. As a result of this effort, MassDOT Aeronautics lay the foundation for safely integrating UAS into the everyday work of MassDOT and the MBTA.


Please note that the 2020, 2022, and long-term targets noted in the scorecard below reflect changes made during the FY18 target-setting process. The 2018 target reflects initial 2-year targets set in FY16.

Performance Goal Performance Measure Target Met? July 1 2017 - June 30 2018 (FY18) Change from FY17 2018 Year Target 2020 Year Target 2022 Year Target Long-term Target
Customer Experience Percent of aircraft registrations registered Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 82% -2% 85% 85% 87% 90%
Budget & Capital Performance Pavement Condition (PCI) - 68 n/a 72 74 74 75
Safety Capital budget disbursement Target Met - Decreasing Performance 92% -8% 90% 92% 95% 95%
Contracts completed on budget Target Met - Increasing Performance 96% +6% 85% 90% 92.5% 95%
Contracts completed on time Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance 74% -7% 90% 90% 90% 90%
Healthy & sustainable transportation Airport safety and emergency management training attendance rate Target Met - Increasing Performance 90% +1% 75% 75% 75% 75%
Airport safety inspections completed (CY17) Target Met - Increasing Performance 12 0 (from previous CY) 12 12 12 12
Scorecard Legend
Target Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Not Met - Decreasing Performance
Target Met - Increasing Performance
Target Met - Increasing Performance
Target Not Met - Increasing Performance
Target Not Met - Increasing Performance

Customer Experience

photo credit - Derek Kenney

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Percent of Aircraft Registered

The Aeronautics Division serves a range of customers, primarily aircraft owners. The aircraft registration program provides the Division with data about the aircraft located at their facilities, and about their owners.  All airworthy aircraft that are based in Massachusetts or temporarily located in Massachusetts for 60 or more days (per calendar year) must be registered with both the Aeronautics Division and the airport on which they are based.

In FY18, airport managers registered 82% (1,883) of the aircraft throughout the Commonwealth.  The Aeronautics Division has a target of registering 85% of all aircraft by 2020.

This is the total number of aircraft registered with the Aeronautics Division. This metric impacts the customer experience as the Division communicates with the aircraft owners on the airworthiness of their aircraft. It also provides insight into the economic impact that the airports are having on the surrounding communities.


photo credit - Derek Kenney

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Airport Safety and Emergency Management Training Attendance Rate

The Aeronautics Division is the air operations lead coordinating agency for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency; a partner in the MassDOT Emergency Management Committee; and participates in various emergency planning exercises across the Commonwealth (e.g. with municipal airports, local first responders, Civil Air Patrol, State Police, and other state and federal agencies such as Massport and Joint Base Cape Cod). During these events, live-action exercises validate plans, policies, and procedures, test equipment, identify gaps in training, and establish best practices. A tabletop exercise uses a hypothetical, simulated emergency to validate plans and procedures, rehearse concepts, and assess the level of preparedness through an interactive discussion.

Aeronautics staff attended 90% of the emergency training events and exercises they were invited to in FY18, exceeding their 2018 target of 75%.

The percentage of training events attended by Aeronautics Division personnel, out of the total number to which they were invited. The emergency trainings provide personnel with fundamental elements of emergency management knowledge and protocols, while bringing together and strengthening the community of providers and emergency responders.

Airport Safety Inspections Completed

The Aeronautics Division performs all airport inspections by the calendar year as directed in the FAA contract, and is on schedule to complete all 12 required inspections by the end of CY18. The inspections cover the following facilities: paved and unpaved aprons, runways, taxiways, safety areas, markings and lightings, navigable airspace, navigational aids, traffic and weather indicators, fueling operations, construction safety, wildlife hazard management, airport operations, and compliance with MassDOT Aeronautics Regulations. MassDOT oversees 36 airports and is required to complete a minimum of 12 inspections per the calendar year (set as a target).

This measure reflects the number of airports inspected by the Aeronautics Department in a one year period. Airport safety inspections are required by the FAA, and are a key element of maintaining safe airports for users.

System Condition

photo credit - Derek Kenney


Pavement Condition Index (PCI)

Pavements represent one of the largest capital investments in the Massachusetts aviation system, and maintaining the condition of these pavements is important for both cost-effectiveness and safety. Airport pavement weaknesses, such as cracks and loose debris, pose a significant safety risk to aircraft. Timely airport pavement preventative maintenance is essential because once the condition deteriorates to require rehabilitation or reconstruction, the costs increase significantly. Recognizing a need to protect this significant investment, the Aeronautics Division established a statewide airport pavement management system (APMS) in 2012 to monitor the condition of Massachusetts airport infrastructure and to proactively plan for its preservation. The APMS system provides the airports, MassDOT Aeronautics, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with the pavement information and analytical tools that help them to identify pavement- related needs, optimize the selection of projects and treatments over a multi-year period, and evaluate the long-term impacts of project priorities.

Airport pavements rated at a PCI of 65 or higher are considered to be in “good” condition. In FY12, the average Pavement Condition Index (PCI) rating of all runway was measured at 70. The runway was last measured in FY17 and the average PCI rating decreased from 70 to 68. Additionally, the FY17 update found that more of the pavement in need of repair will require rehabilitation or reconstruction. This change shows a need for additional near-term investment in airport pavement in order to achieve the 2020 target of an average PCI rating of 74, as well as to reduce the risk of escalating pavement deterioration.

Runway pavement condition is monitored using a statewide airport pavement management system. The condition of these pavements is important from both cost-effectiveness and safety standpoints. Airport pavement weaknesses, such as cracks and loose debris, pose a significant safety risk. Pavement rehabilitation costs increase as conditions deteriorate. The PCI scale ranges from a value of 0 (representing a pavement in a failed condition) to a value of 100 (representing a pavement in excellent condition).

Budget & Capital Performance

photo credit - Derek Kenney

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Capital budget disbursement

The Aeronautics Division has set a 2020 goal to spend at least 92% of the funds budgeted for airport capital improvements each year.  In FY18, the Division’s performance exactly met this target ahead of schedule.

This is the percentage of total allocated capital budget that is dispersed to contractors, vendors, etc. by the end of the fiscal year. This measure is an indicator of how well the Aeronautics Division is executing its planned expenditures.

Percentage of projects completed on/under budget

In FY18 the Aeronautics Division awarded a total of 153 contracts;  147 (96%) of these were completed on budget.  The 2020 target for this measure is 90% completed on budget.

This measure compares the number of projects completed on or under budget against all projects. The Aeronautics Division manages projects through extensive project and internal controls. These metrics, along with other factors, provide an indication of the effectiveness of those strategies.


Percentage of projects completed on/under time

Of the 153 contracts completed in FY18, 113 (74%) were completed on time.  The 2020 target for this measure is 90% of all projects completed within the timeframe established in the contract.

This measure compares the number of projects completed on or under time budgeted against all projects. The Aeronautics Division manages projects through extensive project and internal controls. These metrics, along with other factors, provide an indication of the effectiveness of those strategies.