The National Academies

ACRP 07-18 [Completed]

Develop Airfield Design Guidelines for Large Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Research Agency: Woolpert
Principal Investigator: Thomas Mackie
Effective Date: 9/1/2019
Completion Date: 3/24/2022

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) activity for civilian purposes continues to grow and expand as operators use UAS not only for surveillance, aerial photography, and infrastructure inspection, but also for disaster relief and commercial operations.
As airports consider introduction of larger UAS that need to use airports, there are a number of questions. It is unknown if (1) current airfield surfaces are adequate for use by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of similar-sized manned aircraft; (2) there is a design impact on capacity and safety; (3) airports should seek to integrate them with or segregate them from manned operations; and (4) in communities with multiple airports, communities should integrate UAS at the primary commercial service airport or design another airport for UAS.
As indicated in ACRP Research Report 212: UAS and Airports, Volume 2, Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure Planning, airport planners and engineers are considering whether and how to update master plans/airport layout plans (ALPs) for UAS. As technologies advance, UAS operators will find airfield design guidelines useful to their business and operational decisions.  Many UAS operate in a manner similar to piloted aircraft and, therefore, need airfield facilities for their safe and efficient operation, but airfield facility planning guidance specifically tailored to address the unique needs of large UAS is limited.
The objective of this research is to develop guidelines for airfield design challenges, issues, and considerations for the unique operational needs of large UAS (currently greater than 55 lbs), considering safety and capacity at existing airfields of different types and sizes.  The primary audience for this research consists of airport managers, planners, UAS operators, and other stakeholders. 
The guidelines should address, but not be limited to the following:
·         Integration vs. segregation of operational areas at airfields;
·         Considerations for different UAS categories and capabilities;
·         Integration of technology (e.g., command and control systems (C2), detect and avoid (DAA) systems, cybersecurity, infrastructure and utilities, etc.);
·         Airport master planning,  including economic and cost considerations;
·         UAS support infrastructure (e.g., maintenance facilities, hangars, terminal, fueling, etc.);
·         Environmental impacts (e.g., hazmat, noise, battery storage); and
·         Approach surfaces and terminal airspace.
Note: This project will not address accommodations for space vehicles and spaceports.
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objectives. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objectives. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objectives. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.
The research plan should include appropriate deliverables, for ACRP approval, that include at a minimum:

1. A gap analysis to identify existing design criteria and emerging airfield design challenges, issues, and considerations related to UAS;
2. An annotated outline of the draft guidance document; and

3. An interim report that describes work done in early tasks with an updated work plan for remaining tasks.
The research plan should include other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including, at a minimum, (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables as deemed appropriate. 
The final deliverables will include (1) guidelines that meets the research objective; 
(2) a Summary of Key Findings (see Special Note C), and a Further Recommended Research Memo (see Special Note D). Include a feasibility plan for a potential interactive tool which provides design airfield assessments for follow-on research.
Note:  Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, there should be 3 months for ACRP review and comments and for contractor preparation of the final deliverables.   For budgeting purposes, proposers should assume that ACRP will provide access to web-enabled teleconference services.  ACRP will pay panel members’ travel costs for the face-to-face meeting. Proposers should assume that the meeting will be held in Washington, DC.

A. A large UAS is defined as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) greater than 55 lbs and its accompanying systems. Unmanned implies either remotely piloted or autonomous operation and the potential to carry passengers.
B. Consider existing FAA Guidelines (i.e., AC-150/5200, 5300 series and orders), ACRP publications, and other relevant industry-related resources when conducting this research. It is expected that portions of publications and/or resources will be discussed or linked into the final publication as appropriate, including, but not limited to, ACRP Research Report 212: UAS and Airports, Volume 2, Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure Planning, ACRP Project 03-50, "An Airport-Centric Study of the Urban Air Mobility Market,” and ACRP Project 03-51, "Electric Aircraft on the Horizon,” and others. 
C. The Summary of Key Findings will be a stand-alone document.  It should (1) convey the most pertinent and applicable results of the project’s research; (2) be geared toward the airport industry practitioner while minimizing technical language; (3) present results using text and graphics as appropriate; and (4) encourage readers to explore the primary project deliverables.  The Summary of Key Findings should be limited to no more than 4 pages.
D. The Further Recommended Research Memo will be a stand-alone document.  It should (1) identify logical follow-on research that would benefit the industry but that was beyond the original scope and budget of the project; (2) describe how the proposed follow-on research relates to ACRP’s research roadmaps, if applicable; and (3), for the highest priority research needs, include research ideas and/or problem statements to be added to ACRP’s IdeaHub, the program’s online repository of research needs.
STATUS: The research is completed; publication process is underway.

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