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National Airspace System. Within the airspace sur- be useful to airport operators considering use of rounding each airport, obstruction identification sur- LIDAR. However, the FAA and NGS have not en- faces provide the basis for determining whether or dorsed either the sample specification or LIDAR not a topographic feature constitutes an obstruction. technology as a generally acceptable basis for con- Towers, trees, buildings, or other features whose lo- ducting these surveys. cation and height are calculated to penetrate the ob- An obstruction survey may have a number of struction surface qualify as obstructions that may uses for an airport's development and management, pose hazards to air navigation. The characteristics of including geodetic control for engineering projects, these imaginary surfaces are established by the Code planning for site navigational aids, siting runway of Federal Regulations Title 14 Part 77, "Objects thresholds to meet approach obstacle clearance re- Affecting Navigable Airspace" (CFR 14 Part 77) and quirements, and supporting design and development related FAA guidance on airport airspace analysis. of instrument approach and departure procedures Most obstructions-survey data are obtained using and other flight operations information. Because of traditional field-survey and photogrammetric meth- the critical nature of obstruction information for pub- ods. A NOAA-certified obstruction survey using such lic safety, the FAA issues guidance for how obstruc- traditional methods takes approximately 6 months tions surveys should be conducted and the specific and can be costly. A backlog of demand for such sur- formats and other characteristics of the geospatial veys typically exceeds the funding available under airport and aeronautical data collected to support de- federal programs, so that some airports may operate velopment of an obstruction survey. If an airport op- with obsolete and possibly inaccurate obstructions erator intends to use funds administered by the FAA information. In addition, introduction of new GPS under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) or approaches at some airports has increased demand Passenger Facility Charge Program (PFC) to procure for new obstructions surveys. Seeking to reduce the obstruction-survey data or to use the data to costs and enhance accuracy of obstructions surveys, demonstrate compliance with airport operations stan- FAA and NOAA have sponsored research on the use dards under CFR 14 Part 77, key provisions of FAA's of airborne LIDAR technology. This research has guidance become mandatory. FAA's advisory cir- shown promise that airborne LIDAR data can be cular "General Guidance and Specifications for Sub- used effectively in analysis and accurate mapping of mission of Aeronautical Surveys to NGS: Field Data obstructions. Collection and Geographic Information System (GIS) ACRP Project 03-01 "Light Detection and Rang- Standards" (AC 150/5300-18B; May 21, 2009) is the ing (LIDAR) Deployment for Airport Obstructions principal statement of the agency's requirements. Surveys" was begun in January 2007 with the intent AC 150/5300-18B represents a substantial revision of accelerating development and adoption of LIDAR. of previously issued guidance and standards for ob- The project's objectives were to (a) describe require- struction survey data. ments that must be met to use LIDAR data in aero- To date, there have been no FAA-authorized or nautical obstructions surveys and ALP elevation -approved, third-party airport obstruction surveys surveys; (b) recommend procurement specifications prepared using LIDAR for data acquisition. More- and procedures that could be used by airports or other over, AC 150/5300-18B does not provide specific agencies for procuring and using LIDAR data; and details for independent validation and verification (c) describe the technical bases that could justify ac- procedures for LIDAR-based data. However, use of ceptance of LIDAR-based obstructions surveys by LIDAR is not precluded. The research conducted NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS), FAA, under ACRP Project 03-01 has shown that use of airports, and airlines. The work entailed reviews LIDAR may be cost effective. of government guidelines and standards governing preparation of airport obstruction surveys, available LIDAR AND ITS APPLICATION equipment and procedures used by surveyors of IN AIRPORT SURVEYS airborne-LIDAR-based topographic surveys, and examples of LIDAR's application to conduct sur- LIDAR is an active sensor technology, utilizing veys at a number of airports. The research team then its own source of electromagnetic radiation (a laser), drafted the sample specification presented as an ap- rather than relying on the sun as the source of illu- pendix to this digest. The sample specification may mination, as is the case with more traditional aerial 2

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Regional Airport, and Frederick Municipal Airport) EXAMPLES OF THE USE OF LIDAR were research studies sponsored by NGS and FAA. FOR AIRPORT APPLICATIONS One of the cases (Suffolk Airport in Virginia) was found to have employed terrestrial LIDAR only. The GNV Gainesville Regional Airport (2002) research team concluded that at least 24 airports have RMN Stafford Regional Airport (2003) been surveyed using airborne LIDAR, either as a FDK Frederick Municipal Airport (2003) EEN Dillant-Hopkins Airport (NA) research initiative (the Ohio University study or BMI Central Illinois Regional Airport (NA) Braxton County Airport) or by commercial survey AXV Neil Armstrong Airport (NA) contractors. The research team was able to confirm ANEMinneapolis/Anoka County-Blaine Airport, that at least one commercial LIDAR survey was Janes Field (2005) funded by the FAA, at William R. Fairchild Inter- 0A9 Elizabethton Municipal Airport (NA) national Airport at Port Angeles, Washington. LNP Lonesome Pine Airport (NA) Survey contractors involved in these survey pro- HKY Hickory Regional Airport (2003) jects did not release information on specific survey SBA Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (NA) costs and survey-design details for the cases identi- YVR Vancouver Airport (NA) fied by the research team. However, the research team 48I Braxton County Airport (2005) was able to verify that a variety of vendors provide SUN Hailey Friedman Memorial Airport (2003) airborne LIDAR data collection and processing equip- PUW Pullman Moscow Regional Airport (2003) CLMWilliam R. Fairchild International Airport ment and services suitable for use in an airport ob- (2006) struction survey. Based on the limited information VGC Hamilton Municipal Airport (NA) that could be assembled, the research team concluded JAN Jackson International Airport (2001) that the cost of preparing an obstruction survey using TAN Taunton Municipal Airport, King Field (NA) airborne LIDAR is likely to be comparable to that of SFQ Suffolk Executive Airport (2008) a survey prepared using traditional photogrammetry. EDW Edwards Air Force Base (2003) Terrain, vegetation, and weather-related flight con- S68 Laurel Municipal Airport (2007) straints have significant influence on costs for either IMS Madison Municipal Airport (2006) technology. LIDAR may be used at night, which may DHN Dothan Regional Airport (2006) offer cost savings and other advantages for data col- UNI Ohio University, Snyder Field (2008) lection. Experience suggests that the costs per unit 3A1 Folsom Field Airport (2007) RNO Reno/Tahoe International Airport (2003) area of data collection with LIDAR may decline more 10 Air Force Bases (1997-2002) rapidly than is the case with traditional methods as larger areas are surveyed. LIDAR may sometimes be used in conjunction with traditional photo-imagery. LIDAR application yields very large data sets-- photography. As with its predecessor technology "point clouds" of x-y location and elevation mea- radar, LIDAR has proven to be an effective tool for surements at a high spatial resolution--that must be a variety of survey and mapping applications. Air- processed to yield a digital surface model (DSM) borne LIDAR in particular has emerged in recent that presents terrain and obstruction identification years as a competitive alternative for topographic information. Hardware and software are available surveys and terrain mapping projects, especially for to support the data processing and subsequent dis- the survey of large areas. For example, the Federal play of geographic information, but data-processing Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has devel- costs and technical challenges represent impedi- oped procurement specifications for airborne LIDAR ments to more rapid adoption of airborne LIDAR surveys for preparation of flood maps (FEMA, Guide- technology. lines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping A particular concern in airport obstruction-survey Partners, February 2002). applications is ensuring database compatibility with The research team conducted an extensive search FAA requirements. While this research found evi- to identify examples of the use of LIDAR to acquire dence of LIDAR's application for airport obstruc- data for airport applications. More than 30 cases were tion surveys, there seems to be no consistent guidance; identified. (See text box for airport and year.) Three independent validation and verification; or quality of the cases (Gainesville Regional Airport, Stafford control and quality assurance for the data collection, 3