National Academies Press: OpenBook

Alternative Fuels in Airport Fleets (2017)

Chapter: CHAPTER TWO Methods

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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER TWO Methods." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Alternative Fuels in Airport Fleets. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24868.
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Page 9
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER TWO Methods." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Alternative Fuels in Airport Fleets. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24868.
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Page 10

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10 CHAPTER TWO METHODS SELECTION OF AIRPORTS A list of airports to survey and potentially interview was compiled from a variety of sources including the list of airports in the FAA Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program (FAA 2016), DOE’s alternative fuel station locator database (DOE 2016a), correspondence with members of the ACI-NA Environmental Affairs Committee, and correspondence with panel members and consultants. The final list of 41 airports invited to take the survey represented a range of sizes of airports and a large portion of FAA regional offices. The lack of randomization and the relatively small sample size make it impossible to generalize the statistical results beyond descriptive statistics. Additionally, most airports are in the commercial service cate- gory—smaller general aviation and reliever airports may differ in the costs and benefits they can expect from alternative fuels. DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF FULL ONLINE SURVEY An online survey was developed to gather insight into airport experiences with alternative fuels. The survey was designed to quickly and efficiently capture basic information about the airport’s alternative fuel use, and identify barriers to and unanticipated outcomes of using alternative fuels in airport-owned and airport-operated vehicles. The survey achieved 33 unique responses across the United States and Canada, representing a response rate of 80%. The survey was built using the web-based SurveyGizmo tool. In some cases, the survey was saved by one user and completed by another user from the same airport, owing to the breadth of topics covered. The logic paths within the survey guided participants to questions relevant and specific to their indicated alternative fuel usage. For example, a user who indicated that the airport in question used biodiesel would be prompted to indicate whether the airport blends that biodiesel with conventional diesel, and at what ratio. Participants who did not indicate biodiesel usage would never see this question. These branching pathways aided in minimizing survey completion time and user fatigue while still allowing the gathering of highly detailed information on each airport. The survey began by requesting basic information about the airport, followed by descriptive information about its use of alternative fuel (e.g., types and number of vehicles, purchase dates, and infrastructure required for fueling), and then more detailed questions (e.g., ownership breakdown, procurement strategies, funding, satisfaction, and experience with implement- ing use of the fuel). The survey also included questions specific to the fuels the respondent reported using (e.g., biodiesel blend). Snapshots of the online survey can be seen in Figure 3. DEVELOPMENT OF FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEW On completion of the survey portion of this project, follow-up interviews were conducted with 16 of the airports that par- ticipated in the survey. These interviews were conducted by teleconference and lasted between 30 min and 1.5 h. The inter- viewees had varying positions and roles at their respective airports: Some were environmental managers; others were fleet managers or consultants who supported an airport. Although airport interest in participation was limited, the study team strived to achieve a diversity of geographic regions and airport classifications (i.e., large/small commercial service, reliever, and general aviation). The follow-up phone interviews also varied in content and structure, based on the airport’s survey responses. The inter- viewer usually began by asking what was driving the airport to adopt alternative fuels. The interviewer then invited any insight the interviewees could offer and any experience they had gained that would be valuable to others who are beginning to implement alternative fuels. The interviews were used as an opportunity to clarify points of confusion or scarcity of detail

11 in the survey responses. (Frequently, the interviewer invited greater detail about the owner/operator breakdown, because the answers were typically more complex than the survey instrument allowed.) The survey asked about a range of topics relevant to airports planning alternative fuel use, including • Accessory equipment • Employee engagement • Weather impacts • Training requirements • Emission reductions • Fleet size • Fuel costs • Vehicle costs • Procurement process • Operations and maintenance • Project financing • Refueling infrastructure • Safety • Policy The full survey questionnaire can be found in Appendix A. The list of airports that responded to the survey and that par- ticipated in phone interviews is featured in Appendix B. FIGURE 3 Snapshot of cover page of the online survey (left) and of questions within online survey (right).

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TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 85: Alternative Fuels in Airport Fleets is designed to assist airport operators in analyzing complex procurement, operational, and environmental decisions when considering alternative fuels in airport fleets.

Airports own and contract fleets to transport passengers, staff, and goods by on- and off-road vehicles. Although most transportation fuels are consumed by aircraft, using alternative fuels in airport fleets is one opportunity airports have to control emissions and fuel costs and potentially reduce maintenance.

The report compiles information on eight alternative fuels, including biodiesel, renewable diesel, compressed natural gas, renewable natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, and electricity.

Ethanol and hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) are not included in this report because the driving experience and refueling operations associated with ethanol and HEVs are well understood and documented elsewhere.

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