The National Academies

ACRP 06-10 [Pending]

Enhancing Airport Workforce Efficiency through Automation

  Project Data
Funds: $450,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin


Personnel shortage is one of the primary concerns expressed by airport leadership. Shortages may be due to retirements or retention and recruitment challenges; notably, there appears to be a shrinking pool of skilled and knowledgeable airport employees to meet demands and stabilize the airport workforce. Automation—using technology, programs, or processes to automatically control the operation of an apparatus, process, or system—can help airport employees perform their job duties and achieve more efficient outcomes, especially during staffing shortages.


The objectives of this research are (1) to create a method for U.S. airport policymakers to assess and rate current and emerging software- and hardware-based automation technologies, programs, or processes in their organization and facilities (terminal, airside, and landside); (2) to develop a roadmap for optimizing existing automation and/or adopting new automation; and (3) to develop an executive summary of the findings. The roadmap should include a decision support tool to help U.S. airports select current and emerging automation. The automation should be focused on optimizing business processes to help improve the efficiency of airport employees and enhance the end user experience. Although opportunities for adopting automation could be found throughout the airport ecosystem, this project should focus on applications in the broad categories of airport business processes, human resource management, and facility and equipment management and operation in the terminal, airside, and landside environments (see Special Note A). The roadmap should contain, at a minimum, two practical case studies of representative technologies, programs, or processes in each category, including a business case; technology identification and selection; procurement; implementation; training; and key metrics and measurable improvements, if any.

In accomplishing the objectives, please address at a minimum:

  • Identifying what should be automated; 
  • Leveraging automation to supplement existing workforce capacity; 
  • Human-machine interface and teaming;
  • Stakeholder engagement throughout the life cycle of the automation, i.e., selection and procurement to end of life;
  • Implementation efforts for new automation;
  • Training programs;
  • Fostering a technology skillset in the existing workforce; and
  • Change management.


The research plan shall include the appropriate interim deliverables for ACRP review and approval, which are, at a minimum:

  • A data collection plan for accomplishing the research objectives that includes the proposed case studies and their selection criteria.
  • A list of current and emerging software- and hardware-based automation technologies, programs, or processes worldwide with applicability to U.S. airports. Additionally, please discuss the format of the decision support tool considering current and future airport characteristics, including airport workforce composition, ownership models, size, and geography.
  • An interim report with research results to date, analysis of results, a draft of the executive summary, next steps, and identification of follow-on research ideas to be developed into problem statements.

The research plan should include checkpoints with the ACRP panel, which are, at a minimum:

  • A kickoff web meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed;
  • A face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting;
  • A 1-hour web meeting to be held the week following the delivery of each Quarterly Progress Report; and
  • Web meetings tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.

The final deliverables will include: 

  • The method; 
  • The roadmap;
  • The executive summary;
  • A contractor’s final report documenting all research steps, results, and analysis;
  • A technical memo titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”;
  • A Summary of Key Findings; and
  • A Further Recommended Research Memo.


STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.


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