ACRP Report 144: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer was developed to assist airports of all types and sizes and their stakeholders in gaining an understanding of UAS and their potential use and impact on airports. Information in the primer includes a glossary of key terms and a background on the current state of UAS operations. The primer addresses costs and benefits to airports, regulatory and community considerations, UAS infrastructure and operational considerations, and UAS safety and security among other issues.
The FAA and other stakeholder agencies are working to safely integrate UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). Currently the FAA prohibits commercial use; however, public entities are allowed to operate under a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) and civil entities under special airworthiness certificates. As UAS operations become more common, public airports will begin to receive increased requests to utilize their facilities. There are many factors that will influence airport operations. Therefore, this initial review and analysis of current UAS operations may be helpful to airports and other stakeholders.
Under ACRP Project 03-30, research was conducted by Futron Aviation Corporation in association with Merlin Global Services, LLC and Whirlwind Engineering, LLC. Surveys were conducted targeting UAS operators, airport operators, and experts in the UAS industry to gather information specifically about UAS operations on and around civilian airports. The surveys served as guides for conversations and interviews with DOD, civilian airport operators, universities, and FAA UAS test site representatives.