Located in Arapahoe County, Centennial Airport is home to one of the busiest general aviation airports within the country, accommodating 314,071 civil and military aircraft operations in 2021.
The Arapahoe Public Airport officially opened in 1968, when Arapahoe Road was just a two-lane dirt road leading to the airport as part of establishing the Denver Technological Center (DTC). In 1975, the Board of County Commissioners created the Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority (“the Airport Authority”) and the airport property title was transferred from the County to the Airport Authority. In 1984, the airport was renamed Centennial Airport.
Airport Authority Board
The Airport Authority is a separate political subdivision of the State of Colorado. It has the power to own property, sue and be sued, enter contracts, borrow money, issue bonds, and construct, maintain and manage the airport (C.R.S. Section 41-3-106). The Airport Authority is governed by a Board of Commissioners (known as the “Airport Board”), which consists of five members who are appointed to four-year terms by the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners. The Board of County Commissioners traditionally has appointed three county commissioners to the Airport Board, and two non-county commissioners. Pursuant to the Airport Board’s by-laws, three appointees of Douglas County are “ex-officio” non-voting members of the Authority.
Learn more about the Airport Board’s membership and upcoming meetings.
Since the Authority is an independent and separate governmental entity, Arapahoe County does not have direct power over the management and operations of the airport. That authority exists exclusively with the Airport Authority and the Airport Board. Arapahoe County’s influence over the management and operations of the Airport Authority is limited to its power of appointment of the voting members of the Airport Authority’s Board, although once appointed, the members exercise full discretion as to how vote on Airport Authority matters.
Centennial Airport Community Noise Roundtable
Arapahoe County is one of several government entities who participate in the Centennial Airport Noise Roundtable (CACNR). Created in 2009, the CACNR works with the airport to explore ways to reduce and mitigate the impact of aircraft noise on surrounding communities. In addition to local elected officials and appointed community representatives, the roundtable includes airport staff, airport users, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division. The Board of County Commissioners appoint two members and two alternates to the CACNR.
Learn more about the CACNR and upcoming meetings.
Arapahoe County understands the public and economic benefits general aviation provides, while also acknowledging the public health impacts noise and leaded emissions pose.
The Airport Authority—not Arapahoe County—has exclusive control over the management and operations of the airport, subject to any limitations contained in federal and state laws or grant assurances.
The Board of County Commissioners has advocated for a change in leaded emissions:
- Participated in the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking process regarding leaded fuels.
- Endorsed Centennial Airport’s “first in the state” leadership in offering unleaded aviation fuel, a direct result of organized community efforts within District 2.
In Colorado, counties do not have express or implied statutory authority to regulate noise from airports. The Federal Aviation Administration has exclusive control over the operation of aircraft in the air and on runways (29 U.S.C. Section 40103).
Most recently, the Board of County Commissioners has advocated to address noise concerns by:
- Pressing for additional environmental analysis from the FAA prior to implementing the DEN Metroplex to adequately address noise and other environmental impacts, ultimately joining a lawsuit against the FAA with the City of Greenwood Village and Centennial Airport.
- Seeking support from Colorado’s congressional delegation for additional FAA resources to address community noise concerns.
- Partnering with Centennial Airport and Greenwood Village to secure a federal lobbyist—The Normandy Group—to identify new avenues for resolution.