Different types of studies are performed in airport planning, including facility planning, financial planning, traffic and markets, economics, environment, etc. Three different planning levels can be identified: system planning; master planning; project planning.
System planning: An airport system plan is a representation of the aviation facilities required to meet the immediate and future needs of a metropolitan area, region, state, or country. Therefore, it is a political planning level. Its overall purpose is to determine the extent, type, nature, location, and timing of airport development to establish a viable, balanced, and integrated system of airports to meet the transportation needs of a region/country.
Master planning: It is related to strategic planning of infrastructures for a single airport, and it is closely related to the Master plan. Detailed information will be given in Section 9.2.1.
Project planning: Project planning refers to a particular project in an airport, e.g., a new runway, a new taxiway, extension of the apron, extension of the terminal building, etc., which has been specified (obviously, only in the case of big projects) in the master plan. Notice that the administrative documents that are compulsory vary from one country to another (even among different regional entities within one country). Typically, one would find: a descriptive report; drawings; technical prescriptions; and a budget.