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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." 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 11
Page 12
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." 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 12

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Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   10 1 Introduction This guidebook provides airport industry practitioners with guidance for incorporating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into airport infrastructure and planning. Section 1 includes background information on this rapidly changing industry and explains the guidebook organization. Background It is anticipated that UAS activity within the airport environment will expand due to market demand, operational requirements, and changes in UAS specifications (i.e. size, weight and payload). To date, the majority of small UAS, less than 55 pounds, operate outside of the airport environment. However, some public airports are currently supporting limited UAS operations (e.g. testing, agriculture, survey, photography, and racing). As a result, this guidebook provides suggested planning, operational and infrastructure guidance to safely integrate existing and anticipated UAS operations into an airport environment. To develop this guidebook, the research team reviewed:  current regulatory guidance both within the US and abroad;  existing and anticipated UAS activity; and  existing UAS performance requirements and operational needs. The research team also consulted with various airport and regulatory agency stakeholders including airport management and operating personnel, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) personnel, state DOT personnel, UAS commercial operators, Department of Defense (DOD) personnel and UAS test site representatives. Through this consultation, the research team documented stakeholder concerns. This guidebook presents processes and methods to incorporate UAS into airport infrastructure planning based on current and forecast conditions and operating needs. However, the UAS industry continues to rapidly grow and evolve while the integration of autonomy in both ground vehicles and aircraft expands. New developments occur rapidly and governing agencies are under pressure to keep pace with the changes. Regulatory, industry, and research efforts to date continue to focus on UAS integration into the National Airspace System (NAS) including controlled airspace, sense and avoid, beyond visual line of sight, and radio spectrum demand rather than ground infrastructure needs. Therefore, while this guidebook strives to provide relevant guidance to support UAS airport integration, users should recognize that the evolving nature of the aviation/aerospace industry itself will impact airport infrastructure needs and funding priorities. Thus, users should continue to monitor UAS developments and regulations while working with airport stakeholders and federal and state regulators to address existing and future needs, and opportunities related to UAS development. Unmanned Aircraft Systems: “An unmanned aircraft system is an unmanned aircraft and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. An unmanned aircraft is a component of a UAS. It is defined by statute as an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)).” Figure 1: FAA definition of unmanned aircraft systems

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   11 This planning 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. They may recognize benefits of UAS for airport surveys, construction monitoring and wildlife control, but UAS used for these activities are relatively small and need very little if any infrastructure. That said, larger airports will have to accommodate UAS as they are integrated into the commercial cargo and passenger aircraft fleet in the future. These types of UAS are still under development. At this time, it is anticipated that commercial cargo and passenger UAS will use infrastructure similar to that used by manned aircraft. However, anticipated differences will likely include communication /sensing equipment, fueling infrastructure and airspace control procedures. Additional research will be needed as commercial cargo and passenger UAS evolve and their characteristics and operational needs are better understood. Guidebook Organization This guidebook contains a comprehensive set of information for airport infrastructure planning as it relates to integrating UAS operations. It is not meant to be read cover-to-cover. Rather, readers should familiarize themselves with the sections summaries (below) and jump around to the relevant topics. Section 2 – UAS Terminology and Classifications – this section provides basic information on UAS classifications and UAS terminology. Section 3 – Current Conditions – this section highlights current UAS regulations and guidance related to airport infrastructure and planning as well as UAS commercial, civil and military forecasts of demand (as of the writing of this report). Finally, examples of recent UAS infrastructure planning efforts are provided. Section 4 – Airport Opportunities, Issues and Challenges– this section highlights opportunities, issues and concerns regarding UAS operational impacts on future airport planning, environmental and infrastructure needs as described by the industry, airport management, regulatory organizations (i.e. FAA/DOT, US DOD, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and ICAO). Section 5 – Airport Infrastructure Planning for UAS– this section provides planning guidance based on the current conditions described in Section 3 and airport opportunities; issues and challenges discussed in Section 4. Section 6 – Anticipated Future Conditions – this section offers insights on future UAS demand and operational needs based on research and expected resolution of issues identified in the previous sections. This section also highlights suggested infrastructure and planning strategies to address likely future conditions. Section 7 through 13 – Appendices – this section provides further detail into various aspects of airport planning for UAS referred to in this document.  

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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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