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17 Chapter 1 Chapter 5 Chapter 3 Chapter 7 Chapter 9 Chapter 2 Chapter 6 Chapter 4 Chapter 8 A ppendices Airport operators have a working knowledge of the typical revenue sources that support their facility. With commercial use of UAS on the horizon, airport operators envisioning UAS opera- tions as viable and compatible with their operations may consider several areas when analyzing the potential costs and benefits. The information in this chapter comes from discussions with airport operators with UAS activities currently on their airport, ATC staff with experience controlling UAS, and universities supporting the six FAA UAS national test sites. 4.1 Vision for UAS Operations A prerequisite to determining the costs and benefits of UAS integration is to develop a vision of what future airport business and operations will look like with unmanned systems in the mix. Typically, 14 CFR Part 139 certificated airports have and maintain an airport master plan. According to the FAA guidance (Advisory Circular 150/5070-6B), an airport master plan is the airportâs blueprint for long-term development with one of the goals being to identify a realistic financial plan to support the development. Airport operators who believe UAS opera- tions are possible at their airport might use the master plan as the vehicle that proposes and guides the realization of the vision. The airport master plan is based upon forecasted aircraft operations and passenger numbers and provides a blueprint for the improvement of airport facilities. A vision for UAS operations could be integrated into the master plan, or an airport strategic plan or financial plan if those are more applicable vehicles, and take into consider- ation tasks needed for UAS development and provide a roadmap for this change in airport operations. A publication that may be of benefit to airports considering this change is ACRP Report 76: Addressing Uncertainty about Future Airport Activity Levels in Airport Decision Making. The report provides a guidebook on: . . . how to develop air traffic forecasts in the face of a broad range of uncertainties. It is targeted at air- port operators, planners, designers, and other stakeholders involved in planning, managing and financing of airports, and it provides a systems analysis methodology that augments standard master planning and strategic planning approaches. (Kincaid et al. 2012) While ACRP Report 76 was not specifically published to address UAS forecasting, it is a resource for airport operators that want to understand the process of looking ahead. The guide- book can assist airports in planning for UAS integration and expansion. It provides a process for determining what is possible and likely at a particular airport in terms of aircraft operations and activities necessary to support UAS. Costs and Benefits to Airports C H A P T E R 4
18 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer Ch ap te r 1 Ch ap te r 5 Ch ap te r 3 Ch ap te r 7 Ch ap te r 9 Ch ap te r 2 Ch ap te r 6 Ch ap te r 4 Ch ap te r 8 A pp en di ce s Considerations for an Airport UAS Vision There are two overarching considerations that stakeholders would be well served by address- ing when developing the airport UAS vision. First, have the airport consider the types of UAS that can be expected and the number of operations anticipated. Second, have the airport deter- mine the facilities necessary and currently available for UAS activities, including a communica- tions infrastructure. Both of these considerations will likely have major impacts on attracting and maintaining revenue streams from UAS activities. Types of UAS The type of UAS operating from the airport will likely drive the possible revenue streams. Larger UAS that require runways, ramps, and hangar space are likely to provide more opportunity for revenue to the airport and the surrounding community. The larger UAS will utilize more facilities and require more support than smaller UAS. Many small UAS are hand or truck launched and considered airport independent. While small system operators may desire to use an airport as a base of operations, their independence can limit the potential for increased revenue to the airport and the community. The operational requirements for runway dependent UAS vary from system to system. Air- port planners and operations personnel will need to understand the system requirements prior to commencing the planning for operations. For many systems, unmanned aircraft can be treated the same as manned aircraft by the airport staff. For example, the MQ-1 Predator taxis to the runway, takes off, and lands as a light general aviation aircraft would as the pilot controls the aircraft and communicates directly with ATC. Other systems have very different modes of operation that will impact the airport. The MQ-1C Grey Eagle is similar in size and appearance to the Predator but is handled very differently on the runway. The Grey Eagle uses automatic modes for takeoff and landing with the operator taking control once the aircraft has reached a certain position and altitude. The aircraft is towed onto the runway and requires a period of time, perhaps two minutes, to align the systems and conduct pre- takeoff checks. These procedures, along with the equipment that is required on or near the runway, have an impact on airport operations for this system and need to be included in airport planning. Airport Facilities It is generally true that airports today have either fully utilized facilities or are looking to remove or transform existing, older facilities. New investment is often hard to come by and therefore new facilities that could be available for immediate UAS use are equally hard to come by. The airport operator should understand and plan for what facilities are now available for unmanned systems, or facilities that may be repurposed in their use. Examples might include: â¢ Vacant hangars (even general aviation T-hangars might serve a UAS purpose) â¢ Vacant office space â¢ Industrial park space adjacent or in close proximity to airport property â¢ Vacant operational space (perhaps an available communications center left by an air cargo operator) â¢ Ramp space â¢ Vacant land that is planned for or has airfield access â¢ Utility capacity (e.g., water, sewer, electrical power, natural gas, and fuel access) UAS ground control stations may also require on-site storage (hangar capacity). The opera- tors of the larger UAS are often relatively self-sufficient, utilizing vehicles and mobile control stations that can be located within the hangars. There may not be a need to provide a special control room or center for UAS operations in a new facility. All of these types of facilities or property might have a purpose for UAS operations. With little or no investment, they could provide the airport with an attractive environment for a UAS
Costs and Benefits to Airports 19 Chapter 1 Chapter 5 Chapter 3 Chapter 7 Chapter 9 Chapter 2 Chapter 6 Chapter 4 Chapter 8 A ppendices operator. The airport operator should know what they have and what it might take to put the assets to use for UAS operations. 4.2 Airport Revenue Streams Associated with UAS Most airports have a structured way in which they obtain necessary revenue to cover operat- ing costs and make capital investments. ACRP has produced, or is in the process of producing, resource materials that may assist an airport operator in understanding and developing rev- enue streams from UAS operations. While these publications are not UAS specific, they provide information that might be helpful in structuring a cost recovery system (revenue streams). They include but are not limited to: â¢ ACRP Report 33: Guidebook for Developing and Managing Airport Contracts â¢ ACRP Report 36: Airport/Airline AgreementsâPractices and Characteristics â¢ ACRP LRD 23: A Guide for Compliance with Grant Agreement Obligations to Provide Reason- able Access to an AIâFunded Public Use General Aviation Airport â¢ ACRP Report 106: Being Prepared for IROPS: A Business-Planning and Decision-Making Approach (UAS operations might initially be considered IROPS) When planning for UAS related revenue streams, airport operators are well advised to under- stand how their facilities and airport properties are encumbered or limited in their use because of local tax codes, zoning laws, grant assurances [FAA AIP (Airport Improvement Program)], or other issues that might restrict the airport. An airport operator may find that the UAS operator requires a lease, contract, or use agreement that has substantial financial differences from exist- ing agreements for similar facilities. This may cause issues for the airport operator, and the legal requirements associated with such an agreement should be investigated and fully understood before entering into such a relationship. Given a full understanding of how a lease, contract, or use agreements for airport facilities might be structured, an airport operator should consider the following opportunities for rev- enue streams from UAS operations: â¢ Fuel flowage fees (dependent on fuel type) â¢ Landing fees (dependent on runway use and or adjacent land use) â¢ Hangar rent â¢ Ramp space rent (including tie downs) â¢ Office space rent â¢ Operations or communications center rent or use fees â¢ Industrial park space rent or use fees â¢ Special emergency equipment and staff standby or response [if UAS operations require air- craft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) or other emergency response equipment to standby for normal operations, then perhaps a premium might be charged for this type of service] Airports may benefit by making sure the rates for services and facilities paid by UAS operators are comparable to those paid by the manned aircraft community in order to avoid conflicts and ensure operational cooperation. Revenue from Additional UAS Support It is commonly accepted that UAS operations require more support than manned aircraft from the ground and perhaps in the air because of the necessary communications and control protocols. This additional support manifests itself in more trucks, buildings, communication/operations centers, etc. The additional burden on the airport, its facilities, and resources should be recovered financially. Otherwise the UAS becomes a negative revenue flow to the airport. If the airport receives grant funding, it is important for
20 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer Ch ap te r 1 Ch ap te r 5 Ch ap te r 3 Ch ap te r 7 Ch ap te r 9 Ch ap te r 2 Ch ap te r 6 Ch ap te r 4 Ch ap te r 8 A pp en di ce s airport management to have a discussion with their FAA Airport District Office (ADO) prior to executing UAS leases, contracts, or use agreements. Generally speaking, where larger UAS are operating and have been operating for some time, the communities around those airports have experienced growth in additional services required to sup- port the additional personnel who build, operate, and maintain UAS. At the GTR, UAS manufacturer Stark Aerospace located personnel and business operations at the airport. At SYR, the New York Air National Guard (while not a commercial organization) located UAS operational units at the airport as other Air National Guard flight activity began to subside. This brought Air National Guard per- sonnel and their families to the area thus contributing to the economic growth of the community. The same can be said for any additional operations at an airport. Once the operation becomes well established and requires more people, equipment, and materials, the local community is usually the benefactor from such economic growth. Establishing a baseline of economic activity at an airport whereby the economic contributions of UAS operations can be measured should be of consideration to airport operators. The ability to demonstrate growth will likely aid in developing future community and political support. 4.3 Infrastructure Considerations and Costs As discussed previously, airports are well advised to understand what they have available, what is possible with the facilities and airspace, and what may be required in the form of investment in order to make the facilities usable for UAS operations. Initial Infrastructure Questions The considerations for infrastructure requirements should start with some basic questions from the airport to the UAS operator: â¢ Does the UAS need a runway for takeoff, landing, or both? If so, what runway length and width is required? â¢ Can the UAS taxi to/from the runway and follow ATC commands and other voice commands? â¢ Does the UAS need hangar space when not flying? â¢ Does the UAS need ramp space prior to or after flight? â¢ What sort of control station is required (truck, trailer, office space, etc.)? â¢ Does the UAS need launch and recovery space (in lieu of a runway)? If so, how close to the airport does this space need to be? â¢ What sort of communications infrastructure is needed? Does the UAS operator need special tow- ers of antennas in order to ensure communications are established and maintained with the UAS? â¢ Will the communication frequencies needed create conflicts? Will they interfere with exist- ing frequencies used by airport staff, the FAA, tenants, airlines, fixed base operators, or others? â¢ Will the UAS need special emergency standby equipment? Is it available at the airport or does it need to be brought in from an outside source? As an example, a large general aviation airport might need to bring in a local fire department truck to standby for UAS operations as a matter of protocol. As mentioned earlier, the airport needs to recover the actual costs for the facilities and services used by the UAS operator. The mechanism for recovering those costs should reflect the ones already in use by those individuals and organizations that use the airport. If new facilities or services are necessary to accommodate a UAS operator, the airport operator and airport owner will need to determine if these are recoverable costs. Will UAS related costs and revenues go toward the long-term development and expansion of the airport? If so, should they be funded by the airport? Or will additional costs be absorbed by outside agencies and investors who have a stake in the airportâs success?
Costs and Benefits to Airports 21 Chapter 1 Chapter 5 Chapter 3 Chapter 7 Chapter 9 Chapter 2 Chapter 6 Chapter 4 Chapter 8 A ppendices Current Facilities Available for UAS As the airport makes preparations for bringing in UAS, taking inventory of available facilities that potentially meet UAS operator needs is an important early step. The goal of the inventory is to help ensure an airport does not turn UAS operations into a negative revenue situation. To the extent possible, UAS operations should be considered by airports with a master plan already established; the UAS component of the operation might be a consideration during the next master plan update. For those airports without a master plan, perhaps a business plan has already been established and can be updated accordingly. For those smaller airports without a tool for long-term plan- ning, it is recommended that a simple inventory of the facilities be developed. It should consider the following: â¢ Unleased and unused ramp space â¢ Unleased and unused hangar space â¢ Available office space â¢ Available storage space â¢ Airspace restrictions â¢ Communication frequencies actively used by all users of the airport as well as those located nearby (a trucking company with distribution warehouses, as an example) â¢ Any FAA ATC restrictions (does the tower close for part of the day) â¢ Emergency response capabilities After taking an inventory of what is available, the airport operator can then estimate the costs associated with these facilities and services should they be leased or used by a UAS operator. The costs of UAS operations should not become a negative cash flow situation for the airport. This information is necessary for a cost recovery discussion with the UAS operator. Funding New UAS Facilities If new facilities and services are necessary to accommodate UAS operations, their funding sources for them should be an early topic of discussion with the UAS operator. If the UAS operator is attracted to the airport as a result of favorable airspace, available ramp space, near the testing areas, close proximity to the mission areas, or other factors, the airport may be able to leverage these possible advantages and ensure the UAS operator assists with the cost of its operation and any necessary capital investments. Regardless of costs and the UAS operator needs, there may be the possibility that the local political environment drives the airport to pursue and retain UAS operations as a means to improve revenue to the airport or to provide revenue and job growth to the local community. Given this possibility, the airport operator is advised to know and understand the desires of the airport owners and their political representatives or elected officials. This is critical if the airportâs cost recovery model includes taxes from local government, such as a hotel tax or local property taxes that may go to support the local airport. If this is the case, the elected officials may feel as though they have a substantial stake in how the airport is operated and developed. The air- port operator needs to identify these types of issues before a UAS opportunity becomes known. In order to stay ahead of such a possibility, the airport operator needs would be well served by having as much information about UAS as possible and initiate discussions with the appropri- ate political representatives in order to identify potential issues and how they are to be resolved. 4.4 Engaging the Public and Surrounding Communities Airports looking to introduce UAS into their operations will be well served by actively reach- ing out to their local communities. The purpose of the outreach should be to educate the public on the aircraft to be flown, the types of activities the UAS will perform, and the risk mitigations implemented to ensure public safety. UAS are an unknown for most. They are referred to as
22 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer Ch ap te r 1 Ch ap te r 5 Ch ap te r 3 Ch ap te r 7 Ch ap te r 9 Ch ap te r 2 Ch ap te r 6 Ch ap te r 4 Ch ap te r 8 A pp en di ce s âdronesâ in the news media, and drones are the aircraft many people only know as those that collect intelligence and fire weapons for the military. Understanding local politics and public perceptions will be important for the airport operator prior to pursuing UAS opportunities. Although the awareness of UAS is growing as the industry grows, it is likely that a percentage of the public have particular views on drones that may not be accurate, and could impact the airportâs ability to bring UAS business to the community. Multiple incidents involving UAS have been newsworthy in 2014 and 2015. On January 26, 2015, a small UAS crash landed inside the grounds of the White House in Washington, DC. Two near miss incidents between commercial aircraft and UAS in March of 2014, one near Tallahassee, FL, and one near Perth, Australia, made headlines and brought to light key airspace and safety issues facing the aviation industry. In another event that will likely have an impact on the use of UAS for commercial purposes, the NTSB in November 2014, while ruling on a decision by the FAA to levy a $10,000 fine on a person for flying a small, remote-controlled UAS to film a promotional video, determined that anything that flies is defined as an aircraft, whether it be a manned aircraft, a classic model aircraft, or a small UAS. The case highlighted the ability, and the need, for the FAA to regulate UAS to ensure the safety of the public. These are but a few examples of a large number of incidents involving UAS in the last couple of years. These types of incidents work to influence public opinions on UAS, perhaps feeding skepticism and fears over the presence of unmanned aircraft in the community. The airport operator may need to work to gain public support for introducing UAS into the airport environment. The DOI Approach to Public Outreach The DOI is one of the most active users of UAS. The DOI uses UAS for a number of varied missions. To ensure the success of their UAS missions and avoid conflict with the local popu- lation, the DOI goes to great lengths to educate the public on their aircraft and activities before and during their operations. The DOI Director of Aviation Services uses scheduled public and town hall meetings and prepared information publications to let people know what their goals are and what types of flying they will do. As an example of the power of public outreach, one of the missions of the DOI is to enforce the laws on illegal dumping of trash and waste. In the Mojave Desert, where the residents are few and value their privacy, DOI representatives made the effort to let the public know they would be flying unmanned aircraft in an effort to locate illegal dumping sites and identify those doing the dumping. This effort happened to support the desire of residents to stop others from dumping trash on their private property. Once the mission, the capabilities, and limitations of the aircraft were laid out, and a face was associated with the drones, the public discovered that flying UAS was a good thing for their community. Topics for Public Outreach Building and maintaining community support for UAS operations is a continuous process that goes beyond simply giving the public notice of upcoming operations. The community needs to be informed about the organizations that will be conducting the operations, how the flight activities could impact them, and then given the opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns. Using the DOIâs approach as an example, a list of topics the airport and UAS operator might present to the public is as follows: â¢ Define a UAS â Explain the history of UAS flying â Describe the different types of UAS
Costs and Benefits to Airports 23 Chapter 1 Chapter 5 Chapter 3 Chapter 7 Chapter 9 Chapter 2 Chapter 6 Chapter 4 Chapter 8 A ppendices â¢ Who is doing the flying â Overview and history of the organization â Safety record and risk management processes â Examples of past missions and their results â¢ The aircraft and the missions â Types of UAS â Sensors on board â Purpose of the flights â Flight routes and restrictions â¢ Benefits to the community â Economic benefits â Safety benefits â Environmental benefits â¢ Status of regulation â Current regulations â Proposed regulations â¢ The future of UAS â Companies involved in the UAS industry â Future applications of UAS The topics are best presented by the UAS operator or by persons experienced in the type of UAS operations to be conducted in order to provide the public with the most accurate informa- tion and to completely answer any questions the audience might pose. Some universities associated with the FAA test sites and others building UAS programs have gone to great lengths to be a source of public information. As an example, the UAS professors from Indiana State University have presented to the local and regional chambers of commerce and several philanthropic organizations, provided numerous press releases to various news agencies, presented at several aviation industry organizations, and continue to give information specifically on educating the public in order to improve UAS acceptance. Additional Approaches in Presenting UAS to the Public Regardless of public opinion, there are a few approaches and issues to consider when discussing UAS operations with local officials and citizens. â¢ Providing public education about proposed UAS uses and missions (such as UAS testing, agricul- ture, photography, and university studies) can have a positive impact. If the public understands what the UAS is doing over or around the community, the likelihood of developing a negative public opinion is lessened. Making presentations at local and regional chambers of commerce events, providing press releases to local and regional newspapers and TV stations, and address- ing aviation associations in the state and region can all aid in educating the general public. â¢ Careful planning of UAS lost link procedures and holding points are important operational issues to consider. This specific point was discussed in Chapter 3 as a lesson learned by mul- tiple airports. If a UAS loses the communication links with the pilot or operator, most robust UAS platforms are programmed to perform specific maneuvers until the link is re-established. If those procedures include a holding pattern or returning to a specific area to land, the public should be made aware of this potential so that unnecessary panic and concern can be avoided. â¢ Noise considerations and mitigations are important for the public to understand. While most UAS are actually quieter than manned general aviation aircraft, they may present a different type of sound that the general public is not used to hearing from an aircraft. If this is the case, the public should be made aware of the types of sound they should anticipate in order to head off unwarranted concern or complaints.
24 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer Ch ap te r 1 Ch ap te r 5 Ch ap te r 3 Ch ap te r 7 Ch ap te r 9 Ch ap te r 2 Ch ap te r 6 Ch ap te r 4 Ch ap te r 8 A pp en di ce s â¢ Any fuel or environmental considerations of note should also be presented to the public. In most cases, UAS do not operate with exotic or substantially different fuels than manned aircraft. This might be an important point for community awareness in order to alleviate concerns, particularly by environmental groups that may want to restrict UAS growth at the airport. During the development of the primer, no specific challenges encountered by airports with UAS operations were discovered. This may be attributable to the fact that most of the current UAS operations from airports are taking place in remote locations and therefore, are not in front of larger communities. As UAS become more reliable and the FAA allows operations to occur more frequently from civil airports, the need to educate and communicate with local communities to gain acceptance of UAS will increase.