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Suggested Citation:"10 Appendix: UAS and Airport Operational Guidance." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 2: Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure— Planning Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25606.
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Page 117
Page 118
Suggested Citation:"10 Appendix: UAS and Airport Operational Guidance." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 2: Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure— Planning Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25606.
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Page 118
Page 119
Suggested Citation:"10 Appendix: UAS and Airport Operational Guidance." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 2: Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure— Planning Guidebook. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25606.
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Page 119

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Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   116 10 Appendix: UAS and Airport Operational Guidance UAS Operations and Air Traffic Control FAA is implementing LAANC. Based upon discussions with airport sponsors supporting UAS operations as well as FAA personnel, the LAANC system applies to airspace and airport terminal airspace in which procedures have not yet been put into place. According to the Executive Director of Golden Triangle Regional Airport (GTR), LAANC procedures do not apply to GTR since management and the FAA ATCT personnel have completed a safety risk assessment related to UAS operations and established specific operational criteria to safely support manned aircraft and UAS operating within the airport’s-controlled airspace.2 If an airport and community support expansion of UAS and aviation related activity within the airspace above and around the airport, the airport can first request inclusion into the LAANC network of airports and then obtain a COA or operations to support expanded UAS commercial activity. If an airport supports military operations, additional operating criteria must be implemented. Thus, as part of the COA, an operating manual should be developed with input from the military, ATC personnel, on-airport tenants and stakeholders as well as state DOT and FAA regional Airport personnel and FAA UAS Integration and Flight Safety staff. Note, military UAS activity will require a different set of requirements as required by DOD. Airspace and Airport Coordination Established UAS operational procedures should be implemented especially within controlled airport airspace to support safe integration of unmanned and manned aircraft. FAA has provided several waivers allowing UAS operations in Class B, C and D airspace if specific requirements are implemented. For example, in January 2017, the FAA allowed limited UAS operations at Hartsfield - Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s (ATL) controlled airspace as part of a major parking garage expansion. However, to avoid potential impacts with manned aircraft, the UAS operator, 3D Robotics, was required to comply with the following requirements: • The pilot/operator must have a manned pilot’s license to steer the drones and have experience speaking with controllers. Currently, commercial drone pilots just need to pass a knowledge-based test which does not include radio communication and procedures training. • Three observers watched the drones from the ground to ensure that they flew the planned routes. • FAA put an operating ceiling of 200-feet to avoid any conflicts with other traffic • The UAS pilot kept in communication with air traffic controllers for each of the 15-minute flights to avoid any potential conflicts or changes in manned aircraft operations (e.g. aborted landings or takeoff and missed approach) • The drones flew along automated paths but could be redirected by the pilot as needed.                                                              2 Based upon conference call and follow-up discussions held on September 21, 2018 with Mr. Mike Hainsey as part of Topic B, Stakeholder Discussions.

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   117 • If the UAS did lose connection with the pilot, they were programmed to automatically return to one of the four launch points. The pilot also had the ability to recall the UAS to their launch points at any time during the flight (UAS Vision, 2017). According to ongoing waivers and research, UAS operations can be safely integrated into even the busiest of airports if infrastructure, operational, and standard communication protocols are in place. Thus, operational protocols and minimum operating standards should be developed as part of any COA request. Also, the use of protocols used at Atlanta and other similarly sized airports may be used to facilitate integration and coordination between UAS and manned aircraft operations and can be included in an airport’s COA operating standards documentation. Communication and Coordination Manned Aircraft Procedures could be implemented, as they are at Golden Triangle Regional Airport, that would allow for UAS operators and ATC to coordinate both over the radio and via ground communications. This allows ATC personnel and manned aircraft users to be aware of UAS operating in the vicinity and would allow the UAS user to apply the traditional “see and avoid” procedures for collision avoidance. If an airport will support military UAS operations along with other military and civilian activities, coordination and communication is extremely important. Larger Military UAs are equipped with navigational aids to avoid collisions with other manned or unmanned aircraft, however, most commercial UAS to date are not that sophisticated. Therefore, to facilitate UAS integration, airport management could: • Request that the military operator provide its operating frequency to airport management who can then monitor military operations along with manned air traffic; • Request that the military monitor the manned traffic frequencies, so that it’s aware and can give right of way to manned traffic; and • Obtain a memorandum of understanding with regional air traffic control and military ATC if planned operations are to be a regular occurrence. In addition, airport management should work with airport stakeholders and air traffic personnel to establish coordination, communications, and other operating procedures to avoid conflicts between operations as well as have protocols in place in case of loss of link issues. A temporary mobile communication array system, like used at Searchlight Droneport, could be used initially to address the communication and link issues while the airport works with FAA FCC to add another frequency to the airport’s Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS). Alternatively, the airport could introduce a separate ground-based surveillance and communication such as the system currently being tested by the FAA Technical Center at Egg Harbor New Jersey. Eventually, it is anticipated that UAS will operate like manned aircraft. Therefore, plans should be considered for developing coordination and communications procedures to address both varying size and use of manned and unmanned aircraft along with potential air traffic control automation and monitoring. Data Management Data management like communications requires an unencumbered, flexible and secure system to allow the transfer of data between a UAS vehicle and its operator. Due to commercial, civil, and

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   118 military demands on the wireless network, loss of link and data either through lost signal or cyber- attack is possible. Therefore, a secondary back-up and encrypted system can be requested from the FCC. As noted, the FAA Technology Center along with its academic partners are working on the spectrum capacity issue. However, both the commercial and military UAS segments have stated that demand outweighs capacity. Therefore, alternative data collection efforts are being evaluated by both the FAA and the ASSURE Team.

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It is anticipated that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will increase in activity within the airport environment and will expand due to market demand, operational requirements, and changes in UAS specifications (such as size, weight, and payload). To date, the majority of small UAS, defined as less than 55 pounds, operate outside of the airport environment. However, some public airports are currently supporting limited UAS operations (like testing, agriculture, survey, photography, and racing).

As a result, this pre-publication draft of ACRP (Airport Cooperative Research Program) Research Report 212: Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 2: Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure— Planning Guidebook provides suggested planning, operational, and infrastructure guidance to safely integrate existing and anticipated UAS operations into an airport environment.

This guidebook is particularly applicable to smaller airports (non-hub and general aviation) without capacity issues. The planning approach could help these airports prepare for and attract UAS operations for additional revenue in the near term. Larger airports (large, medium, and small hubs) are likely less inclined to be interested in attracting UAS operations in the near term, but they will have to accommodate UAS as they are integrated into the commercial cargo and passenger aircraft fleet in the future.

Other Resources:

Volume 1: Managing and Engaging Stakeholders on UAS in the Vicinity of Airports provides guidance for airport operators and managers to interact with UAS operations in the vicinity of airports.

Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators provides airports with resources to appropriately integrate UAS missions as part of their standard operations.

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