Centennial Airport is a General Aviation Reliever Airport. General Aviation includes all civil and military aviation operations other than commercial scheduled air services. Centennial Airport is also classified as a Reliever Airport because we help relieve congestion from Commercial Service Airports, in this case Denver International Airport. Centennial Airport is also considered to be an International Airport since we provide 24/7 Customs services.
In 2021, Centennial Airport accommodated 314,071 aircraft operations with most of the traffic concentrated during the daytime hours. The record year at Centennial occurred in 1998, with over 466,000 aircraft operations. Activity levels at airports are measured by aircraft operations. An operation is defined by the FAA as a takeoff or a landing. A "touch and go" conducted by a training aircraft counts as two operations.
There are a large variety of users who call the airport home. There are more than 120 businesses here and over 850 based aircraft. Primary users include corporate businesses, charter operations, fractional operations, several large flight schools, medevac and air ambulance service and support, military and Department of Defense, research and development, cargo, and more.
Many people assume Centennial Airport is just for airplanes, but it is also home to the Family Sports Center and golf course, go-cart track, the Perfect Landing and Avalanche Grill, and a hotel (coming 2024). In addition to that, South Metro Fire Rescue Station 35 sits conveniently on airport property and services the Airport and the surrounding community.
The Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority is a quasi-governmental entity that owns and operates Centennial Airport. It is governed by a Board of Commissioners which include five voting members appointed by the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners and three ex-officio Douglas County Commissioners or their appointees.
Centennial Airport is responsible for generating approximately $2.1 billion in direct and indirect economic impact for the local and regional economy according to the CDOT 2020 Airport Economic Impact Report! The economic impact of the Airport is measured through jobs employed, payroll distributed, business revenues, and value added (business revenue earned minus costs of purchasing goods and services).
That same year, 10,341 jobs depended on Centennial Airport, so it is extremely likely that you know at least one person who either works at the Airport or is supported by the businesses that utilize the Airport.
Since 2020 and despite COVID, Centennial Airport business has increased, and we expect that our economic impact has simultaneously increased.
Centennial Airport is financially self-sufficient through three major categories. Fees and taxes collected by fuel sales account for approximately 50% of the revenue. Land leased to tenants accounts for approximately 35% and includes aeronautical leases such as hangars and nonaeronautical leases such as the hotel, go-cart track, and golf course. Concessions fees, commercial activity fees, and construction fees account for the remaining approximately 15%. These percentages fluctuate slightly on an annual basis.
No! Centennial Airport is self-sufficient relying solely on the tenant and users of the airport for its financial support. Centennial Airport does accept Federal and State Grants for capital improvement projects that are also funded through Federal and State taxes on aviation fuel.
Aside from our significant economic contribution, the Airport regularly supports the local community through charitable donations. Between the Centennial Airport and the Centennial Airport Foundation, the Airport donates to more than 20 individual charities. We spread our contributions throughout five major categories: aerospace education and history, veterans’ and law enforcement, health and wellbeing development, business and economic development, and civic, cultural, and youth organizations. Our tenants have also been known to be great contributors to the community!
Centennial Airport is open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and in most weather conditions. Although significantly less than daytime operations, the airport does have aircraft activity at night. Interstate Commerce Laws and Federal Grant Assurances prohibit restrictions on flight times.
Before the area was ever developed, a plan was created for the Denver Technological Center (DTC). Of that inception was the idea that an airport should be a major component and contributor to a successful business community operation. On May 12th, 1968, the Arapahoe Public Airport was opened and at the time Arapahoe Road was just a two-lane dirt road leading to the Airport. Since then, the DTC has grown and with it, residential development and supporting facilities. Centennial Airport continues to work with the surrounding jurisdictions to establish compatible land use and create a positive relationship within the community.
While each person has a different threshold for noise sensitivities, Centennial Airport believes that all home buyers should be informed consumers. We can provide a free consultation to home buyers before purchasing a home near the Airport. Staff are available to answer your questions related to flight tracks and aircraft noise and are happy show detailed maps of flight patterns collected from our noise monitoring systems which can help you make a more informed decision.
We encourage you to talk with your potential new neighbors and spend time near the property both during the week and on the weekends. If possible, visit the property at night during the times you would be sleeping to better evaluate how the noise may affect you.
Although Centennial Airport is responsible for addressing aircraft noise, it has no control over the aircraft once it departs the airport. At that point in time, the Federal Aviation Administration - Air Traffic Control dictates the direction or altitude of the aircraft. Their main concern is safety which always takes precedence over noise-related concerns.
Centennial Airport works continuously with the FAA, Community Noise Roundtable and the airport tenants and users to develop aircraft routes and procedures that maintain a high level of safety while reducing aircraft noise exposure within the surrounding areas.
Except for takeoff and landing maneuvers and emergency operations, the FAA’s general flight rules specify a minimum altitude of 1,000 feet over congested areas and 500 feet over non-congested areas. Within Centennial Airport’s airspace (5 miles surrounding the airport), aircraft may be in a climb or decent phase of flight and will likely be flying lower than 1,000 feet. Helicopters, law enforcement and military aircraft are not required to adhere to these rules.
For safety and performance factors, aircraft must arrive and depart into the wind. Centennial Airport’s primary runways are angled with the predominate wind directions of north and south. During typical fair-weather days for the area around Centennial Airport, the wind direction is predominately from the south. This puts the airport in a “South Flow” configuration with aircraft arriving and departing towards the south. During inclement weather days (low clouds, high winds, precipitation, etc.), the wind direction is predominantly from the north and the airport operates in a “North Flow” configuration with aircraft arriving and departing towards the north. Approximately 55 percent of the traffic at Centennial Airport arrives from the north and departs to the south.
Centennial Airport is a public-use airport and accepts federal funding for capital improvement projects. By accepting federal funding, the airport is required to adhere to “grant assurances”, one of which prohibits the restriction of aircraft using the airport, including military aircraft. Centennial Airport sees a variety of military aircraft operations, including F-18s, C130s, Blackhawks, and more. Military aircraft are not held to the same noise standards as civilian aircraft.
Centennial Airport supports the military and the training requirements needed to protect the nation.
Although the Centennial Airport does not sell fuel directly, the fixed based operators (FBO) on the airfield engage in fuel sales. FBOs can establish a contract with the military to purchase fuel at a discounted rate.
Aviation is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the USA, but accidents do happen. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates everything from manufacturing of aircraft to flight rules and air traffic control in and out of airports. Because of this, aircraft travel remains the safest form of travel in the world, especially in the United States. While aircraft accidents may be highly publicized, they are extremely rare with fewer than .07 deaths per billion passenger miles for aircraft versus 7.28 deaths per billion passenger miles for cars. (Source: Ian Savage, Northwestern University).
While aircraft accidents are never a comforting thought, and Centennial Airport would never like them to happen, the likelihood of an aircraft ground strike is many times smaller than getting hit by lightning or sustaining fatal injuries from a car accident.
Centennial Airport continues to work closely with the surrounding cities and counties to keep the approach, departure and pattern areas clear of incompatible residential development.
The Airport Authority is tasked with addressing noise complaints by the Federal Aviation Administration. Noise Complaints can be filed in several ways including a via the noise hotline, a form available on our website or through the Centennial Airport WebTrak also available on our website. You can reach our noise complaint hotline at (303) 790-4709 and our webpage at centennialairport.com. When logging a noise complaint please keep the following guidelines in mind:
Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable (CACNR) meets the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30pm. It is comprised of community leaders and their appointees, pilots, and the FAA. The public is encouraged to join.
ANCA was passed by Congress in 1990 to shift responsibility for noise abatement away from local governments and airport sponsors, and to grant the FAA preemptive authority over the setting of noise levels and imposition of noise and capacity restrictions at airports.
ANCA attempted to create a comprehensive method for regulating aircraft noise by shifting authority away from local governments and airport proprietors to protect the integrity of the national airspace system. Imagine what would happen to our nation’s system of highways if every vehicle off-ramp had its own access restrictions or curfew. In addition to having a severe negative impact on jobs, businesses and the economy, environmental justice issues would be raised in communities bearing heaviest traffic. With over 5,000 public use airports in the U.S., changing regulations for a few airports could place unwarranted pressure on thousands of others.
Since ANCA, the process in which airports can make recommendations to mitigate aircraft noise impacts to the surrounding community is through an FAA Part 150 Study. A Part 150 Study consists of two technical elements: Noise Exposure Maps (NEMs), which identify the levels of airport noise in areas around the airport, and the Noise Compatibility Program (NCP), which are measures designed to reduce noise and incompatible land uses within the noise exposure area. The process is designed to identify noise incompatibilities surrounding an airport, and to recommend measures to both correct existing incompatibilities and to prevent future incompatibilities. Once completed, an Airport Authority can submit recommendations to the FAA for consideration. A further FAA Part 161 Study must be conducted for the FAA to consider access restrictions (such as mandatory curfews, aircraft type restrictions, etc.) To date, only Naples Airport in Florida has successfully received approval from the FAA to impose noise restrictions through the FAR Part 161 process.
Ultimately, the FAA is responsible for the safe and efficient use of the national airspace system. Community recommendations regarding changes to air traffic rules, the use of airspace or the control of air traffic must be addressed at the federal level through a Part 150 Study.
Centennial Airport understands the importance of balancing the needs of the community with the needs of the airport. The Airport has taken several steps to help mitigate noise exposure in the surround communities, including (but not limited to): investing greatly in a FAR Part 150 Study, creating a full-time Noise & Environmental Specialist position, investing in the installation of 12 permanent noise monitors and an Aircraft Noise and Operations Monitoring System to track real-time noise data, the creation of the Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable (CACNR), partnering with CACNR to create our voluntary Noise Abatement Guidelines, posters and signage advising pilots of our fly quiet procedures, and hosting Flight School Engagement meetings with the major flight schools that operate out of Centennial Airport.
Centennial Airport has invested over $2 million on our last our Part 150 Study to understand noise compatibility. The FAR Part 150 Study is a formal evaluation of aircraft noise and land use compatibility authorized under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR) Part 150, titled "Airport Noise Compatibility Planning." It is a voluntary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) program in which Centennial Airport participated in. As a result of that study, two committees were formed, one representing the technical aspect of the study (Technical Advisory Committee, TAC) and the other representing the communities (Community Advisory Committee, CAC) around the airport. The consultant worked with the committees to develop and prioritize the following 12 recommendations:
Next year, 2023, Centennial Airport will be applying for a federal grant for a new Part 150 Study to re-establish and re-measure the effects of noise and review the land use guidelines in the surrounding communities. Because of the last Part 150 Study, The Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable (CACNR) was created. Its purpose is to work with the airport to find ways to reduce and mitigate the impact of aircraft noise on surrounding communities. The Roundtable is comprised of local elected officials, appointed representatives from the community, airport staff, the FAA, CDOT (Aeronautics Division) and airport users – meeting monthly. In a non-adversarial, interactive, and collaborative open forum, CACNR seeks to identify the scope of noise issues, find possible mitigation solutions, locate opportunities for implementation and evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented mitigation actions. While CACNR’s initial efforts in the development and implementation of a Work Program is directed to noise issues associated with current aircraft operations, consideration of future noise issues also is addressed, including interaction with roundtable activities at other airports.
In partnership with the CACNR, Centennial Airport has created Voluntary Noise Abatement Guidelines that are distributed to all the flight schools and pilots that fly out of Centennial Airport. A copy can be found here. Please note that these are voluntary because in all cases FAA’s Air Traffic Control instructions take precedence.
To keep up with our communities concerns regarding the flight schools, Centennial Airport has recently been hosting Flight School Engagement Meetings at our admin building for the purpose of discussing possible solutions to the surrounding community’s exposure to noise from training activity associated with flight schools’ aircraft from Centennial Airport. The meetings attended by County and Airport Board Commissioners, Centennial Airport staff, the Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable (CACNR)Executive Committee, and the four major flight schools at Centennial Airport, collectively we came up with 7 proposed initiatives:
Along with these initiative we will continue to hold meetings to further discuss these initiatives and the timeline of completing each initiative.