The National Academies

ACRP 10-24 [Final]

Guidance for Developing Ramp Control Facilities

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Research Agency: Metron Aviation
Principal Investigator: Barbara Cogliandro
Effective Date: 4/24/2015
Completion Date: 7/23/2016

Ramp control towers that are staffed by non-FAA personnel have been typically operated by airlines to coordinate the movement of aircraft in the non-movement areas. Over time, some airports have taken on this responsibility because: (a) no airline was willing to take on the responsibility; (b) it was necessary to avoid conflicts between competing airlines and ensure the equitable distribution of access; (c) there was a common-use operating environment; or (d) there were other reasons. Due to space and financial limitations or airline consolidation, some of these ramp control activities take place in buildings or offices that do not necessarily look like a typical Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower. Technology has also introduced “virtual towers” and visual aids that can provide 360 degree coverage in lieu of line of sight and can be located anywhere. Other activities that occur at some ramp control facilities that optimize their use and staffing include coordinating deicing, gate planning, hardstand assignments, updating of Flight Information Display Systems (FIDS), ATC traffic management planning, and ground traffic. As airport operators begin to examine their terminal facility requirements, aging infrastructure, and the physical, technological, and operational changes that are occurring, they have an opportunity to address how aircraft operations in the non-movement area will be coordinated. Currently there is no guidance for airports to help them evaluate whether the airport should take some responsibility for aircraft movements in the non-movement areas by developing a ramp control facility, or how to operate and manage such facility once they are developed.
The objective of this research is to develop guidance to optimize ramp control activities in non-movement areas.
The guidance should include the following:
  • A decision-making matrix or flow-chart, or other appropriate tool, to help an airport operator determine the feasibility and appropriateness of conducting ramp control activities to include considerations for a benefit-cost analysis that examine pros and cons of each alternative;
  • A discussion on the different ways in which the facility can be staffed, i.e., direct or contract staff, including the pros and cons of each;
  • A list of the different activities that can be conducted or organized from the ramp control facility;
  • A list of the different options in which to “build” the ramp control facility, e.g., a tower, a room, virtual tower, etc.;
  • The financial implications and budgeting aspects;
  • Operating procedure considerations, including
    • Coordination with FAA ATC, and
    • Training elements for staff;
  • Tools, equipment, and IT infrastructure and other requirements;
  • Siting and facility considerations; and
  • Lessons learned.   

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