Airports represent a crucial a sector of the US infrastructure, but they were documented to have scored a D+. To mitigate this, governmental authorities have issued initiatives to update the airport infrastructure. With an expected critical junction for a major transformation in the airport sector, it is anticipated that airport projects will increase. This shall result in an escalation in the number of disputes. Previous research analyzed dispute concerns within the construction sector, but none tackled the perspective of airport projects. Accordingly, the goal of this study is to investigate the leading causes of disputes in litigation within US airport projects through data-driven techniques. To achieve this goal, a three-step methodology is adopted, including (1) collecting a comprehensive list of federal and state litigation cases to map the data and identify the causes of disputes; (2) clustering and visualizing the data using k-means and network analysis (NA), respectively; and (3) determining the key associations emanating from the dispute clusters through association rule analysis (ARA). The outcomes of this research revealed a total of 23 dispute causes clustered across four groups. Results of the NA indicated that the most common dispute causes are those involved with ambiguity in contractual interpretation, incurred damages, safety issues, and negligence or lack to duty of care. ARA identified several key associations and risk themes related to (1) financial assurance and operational performance: (2) contractual compliance and execution; (3) business affiliation, methods, and inclusion; (4) integrity and misconduct; (5) regulatory hurdles and area effects; and (6) collaboration and teamwork challenges. By identifying these associations and causes of disputes, airport stakeholders can implement early proactive measures that aim to mitigate dispute risks experienced. Ultimately, this study is of value to stakeholders concerned with the overall support and success of dispute management procedures in US airport projects.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1943-5479; 0742-597X

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2024 American Society of Civil Engineers, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2024