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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Suggested Citation:"3 Current Conditions." 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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Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   14 3 Current Conditions This section focuses on UAS existing conditions which relate to UAS and airport infrastructure planning. Subsection 3.1 summarizes current regulations. Subsection 3.2 discusses UAS forecasts, and Subsection 3.3 reviews the status of UAS infrastructure design standards. Finally, Subsection 3.4 describes recent UAS infrastructure planning efforts. Current Regulations In June 2016, the FAA published its Small UAS Rule (14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 107). Part 107 provides clarity and a streamlined operational pathway for operators seeking to use small UAS commercially (e.g. approved business use, such as survey, photography, and real estate). Part 107, however, does not currently apply to: Air carrier operations, public aircraft (i.e. an aircraft used by government (U.S. or foreign) for non-military use), and exempted aircraft under 49 United States Code (USC) Section 44807. While Part 107 broadly authorizes low-risk commercial small UAS operations in the U.S., the rule contains several key operating restrictions to maintain the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) and ensure that small UAS do not pose a threat to national security. Key operational restrictions in Part 107 include the following: • Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds (lbs.). (25 kilograms (kg)) including payload. • Visual line of sight (VLOS) operations only. • Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time). Civil twilight operations (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) are approved when the small UAS is equipped with lighted anti-collision lights. • Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, all manned or unmanned public and military aircraft. • UAS may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation. • Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots). • Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level unless flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure and no higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit. • Minimum weather visibility of 3 statute miles from control station. • No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet and above) airspace. • Operations in Class B, C, D, and E airspaces are allowed with the required Air Traffic Control (ATC) permission. ATC permission comes in the form of an airspace authorization. • Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission. UAS that weigh 55 pounds or more and do not hold an airworthiness certificate will require a Part 11 exemption from various sections of the CFRs and an accompanying Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) as well as a Special Authority for Certain Unmanned Systems exemption (49 U.S.C. §44807). These exemptions were previously obtained under “Section 333” exemptions; however, Section 347 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 repealed Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   15 Additional regulations not specific to UAS operations but that nonetheless may be applicable to UAS operations include Part 137 and Part 135. Part 137 prescribes regulations for aerial spraying and agricultural applications while Part 135 includes requirements for commercial air carrier and operator certification. While Parts 135 and 137 are currently being used now to regulate UAS operations, a more tailored regulatory approach for UAS will be needed in the future. (Thipphavong, et al., 2018), (Allred, Eash, Freeland, Martinez, & Wishart, 2018) On October 5, 2018, the President signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (“2018 Act”). The FAA is currently evaluating the impacts of the 2018 Act and how implementation will proceed. The 2018 Act impacts the entire aviation system for the next 5 years through 2023. Regarding UAS, the 2018 Act supports the continued development of the Unmanned Traffic Management System (UTM) and will help enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and package delivery UAS operations (McMahon, 2018). The 2018 Act also supports current and future test sites to foster the development of sense and avoid technology, in addition to educational development and training programs. Regarding model aircraft, the Act “establishes new conditions for recreational use of drones and immediately repeals the Special Rule for Model Aircraft [Section336]” (FAA, 2018). As such, the Act clears the way for FAA to enact a rule that requires remote identification for all (or most) UAS. In February 2019, the FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking. The proposed rule would establish performance-based standards and means-of-compliance for allowing small UAS operations over people. The comment period for this notice of proposed rulemaking closed on April 15th, 2019. The FAA also published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on February 13th, 2019 after requesting public comments on UAS-security related issues. The ANPRM highlights safety and security concerns provided by homeland security, federal law enforcement, and national defense communities related to UAS. Specifically, public comment will be solicited on several operational limitations, airspace restrictions, hardware requirements, and associated remote identification or tracking technologies for UAS. This ANPRM follows the release of the UAS Identification and Tracking (Remote ID) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) report in 2017, which included recommendations on issues related to identifying and tracking drones in flight. Most recently, in February 2019, the FAA published 8900.504 Expanded Unmanned Aircraft Systems Oversight (FAA, 2019). The implications of this notice to Flight Standard District Office (FSDO) are not yet entirely clear. However, the notice indicates the FAA’s interest in expanding its efforts to assure that UAS are being adequately studied and regulated within the NAS. Another important regulatory development is that the FAA Office of Airports is updating the definition of “aeronautical activity” – as it pertains to airport access – to include certain unmanned aircraft systems. This new definition will be included in the next update to FAA Order 5190.6B, FAA Airport Compliance Manual. Note, however, defining UAS operations as an aeronautical activity does not itself confer federal funding eligibility under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Eligibility or justification for AIP-funded facilities continues to be subject to the requirements of FAA Order 5100.38, Airport Improvement Program Handbook, and FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5000-17, Critical Aircraft and Regular Use Determination. For additional information on current regulatory efforts, refer to the FAA website (www.faa.gov/uas).

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   16 Current UAS Forecasts of Industry Demand This subsection summarizes available UAS forecasts: specifically commercial, civil (i.e. academic, governmental or research), and military demand. The commercial and civil markets are still in their infancy, and, therefore, are vulnerable to changes in market conditions, cost, regulations, safety concerns, and other technological changes. While these forecasts apply to national and global UAS activity, the trends provide localities with a starting point to conduct further research on the specific risks or opportunities they may expect to face with UAS. The Teal Group, an independent aerospace and defense research and analysis company, produces an annual market profile and forecast for global UAS demand, including world UAS production by region. Although consumer systems (i.e., recreational UAS or “model” UAS) worldwide represent approximately 50 percent of UAS currently in service, the most dynamic growth is expected in the commercial (i.e. business) sector. This sector is expected to overtake consumer demand, according to Teal Group, “commercial systems (will) surpass consumer systems in value by 2024…” (Finnegan P. , 2015). The Teal Group also anticipates a 5 percent compound annual growth rate for military drone production as well as 15.5 percent compound annual growth for worldwide commercial UAS production from 2017 through 2026.16 The U.S. currently dominates the market with approximately 50 to 60 percent of all UAS production. However, as technology expands, the U.S. market share is anticipated to decrease as other countries and businesses enter the market (Finnegan P. , 2017). The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Commercial Outlook for a New Industry, 2015 document was a report prepared for Congress by the Congressional Research Service to explain the opportunities and likely uses for UAS within the U.S. and worldwide. The Congressional report identified various sectors for continued commercial development including agriculture, real estate, construction, utilities, film making, and local law enforcement and public safety. Product development is expected to accelerate as FAA issues guidance regarding commercial UAS operations including allowing nighttime flights, beyond user/visual line of sight, and the possibility of one operator or computer/artificial intelligence system operating more than one UAS at a time. The Congressional report highlights forecasts by IBISWorld, Deloitte, Teal Group and Business Insider. “IBISWorld estimates that of the $3.3 billion in revenue generated in the United States by all UAS sales in 2015 (military, civil and commercial), the civil and commercial segments will account for 3.8 percent or about $125 million” (Canis, 2015). “Deloitte estimates that this year [2015] about 300,000 nonmilitary [commercial and civil] UAS will be sold worldwide…with projected revenues of $200- $400 million” (Canis, 2015). “[The Teal Group] forecasted that the United States will account for 64 % of research and development spending and 38 % of military procurement spending [over the next decade (2015-2015)]” (Canis, 2015). “A commercial drone report from Business Insider predicts that the commercial and civil UAS market will pick up slack from declining military spending on drones, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 19 % over the next five years, compared to growth in the U.S. military’s drone spending of about 5 %” (Canis, 2015). Thus, based upon the market forecast data outlined in the Congressional Report, civil and military UAS aircraft are expected to increase at an annual rate of approximately 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively, over the next 10 to 15 years. The FAA Aerospace Forecasts, FY 2018-2038, predict that the number of non-model UAS units operating in 2022 could range from approximately 452,000 (base forecast) to 718,000 (high forecast). The number of non-model UAS operating in the United States in 2017 is estimated at approximately 111,000. Thus, predicted base and high FAA forecasts of UAS units anticipated to be actively

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   17 operating in the U.S. in 2022 is approximately 4.1 and 6.5 times higher than that in 2017 (FAA, 2017). The DOT VOLPE Centers forecast of unmanned aerial systems for the period 2014-2035 (DOT, 2013) estimates that UAS are anticipated to represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. military fleet by 2035 with the primary user being the U.S. Department of the Army (DOA). This data supports current trends that unmanned aircraft will ultimately resemble and operate like current manned (i.e. pilot onboard and controlling) aircraft. The DOD already uses UAS that in size, weight, and operating criteria resemble small (less than 12,500 lbs.) and medium (greater than 12,500 lbs.) sized manned aircraft. Historically, the DOD has led research, training and certification efforts related to new technology including UAS. Thus, it is anticipated that DOD UAS research and integration efforts will continue to spearhead UAS growth and changes in the U.S. aviation/aerospace regulatory environment. UAS Airport Design Guidance Summary This subsection describes existing U.S. and international guidance regarding UAS infrastructure design at airports. 3.3.1 United States’ Airfield Design Standards and UAS While the FAA and DOD publish standards for airfield and heliport design, only the Department of the Army (DOA) has standards that specifically address UAS. The FAA publishes various standards and recommendations for the design and layout of airside features at civil airports via Advisory Circulars (ACs), orders, planning guidance letters, and standard operating procedures. The primary sources for civil airport airfield design criteria are found in AC 150/5300-13A, Change 1, Airport Design; AC 150/5390-2C Heliport Design; and AC 150/5000-17 Critical Aircraft and Regular Use Determination. However, none of these ACs specifically address UAS operating and infrastructure needs. Further, based upon discussions with FAA personnel, there are no plans at the time of this writing for specific UAS airport infrastructure guidance to be published. Regardless, because UAs are by law designated as aircraft, several FAA sources, including personnel from UAS Integration Office, Airports, Aviation Safety and Air Traffic Offices, both headquarters and regional offices, FAA Technical Center personnel, as well as Policy, International Affairs and Environmental personnel, indicated that AC 150/5300-13A, Change 1, Airport Design, guidance may be relevant for determining infrastructure needs to support UAS operations. Similarly, since a substantial portion of UAS currently in operation and in design allow for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), AC 150/5390-2C, Heliport Design, guidance may be relevant for defining infrastructure needs to support VTOL UAS rotorcraft operations. The DOD publishes specific airfield design and operational standards outlined in United Facilities Criteria (UFC) 3-260-01 Airfield and Heliport Planning and Design. In addition to planning and design criteria, this document also contains guidance for construction, sustainment, restoration, and modernization of runways, taxiways, aprons, and other facilities on airport property. Standards and recommendations are provided for Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps facilities. UFC 3-260- 01 does not specifically address UAS infrastructure design. The DOA, however, provides UAS infrastructure design guidance in its Engineering Technical Letter No (ETL) 1110-3-510, published in May 2013 and expired in May 2018. To date, no information is

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   18 available regarding an update to this document. This document provides specific aviation complex planning and design criteria for UAS including runway and movement area design criteria such as airfield facility dimensions, lateral safety clearances, and imaginary surfaces for seven (7) unmanned aircraft (RQ-4A/B Global Hawk, MQ-9A Reaper, MQ-1B Predator, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, MQ-5B Hunter, RQ-7A/B Shadow 200, and the MQ-8 Fire Scout). The DOA ETL specifies the design requirements for facilities used by both manned and unmanned aircraft (dual use facilities) based on the critical aircraft(s) operating criteria (i.e., approach speed, wingspan, tail height, and landing gear) and a combination of dimensional standards outlined in UFC 3-260-01 and in ETL 1110-3-510, whichever is the most stringent. The ETL also provides required separation distances between runway centerline and UAS support equipment if the airfield does not conform with clearances required for UAS operations, specifically the Tactical Automated Landing System (TALS) and Tactical Automated Landing System – Tracking System (TALS-TS). For UAS-only facilities, the DOA ETL supplements the airfield design criteria provided in UFC 3- 260-01. Unlike manned/unmanned runways, lighting is not required for UAS-only runways. Also, taxiways are required for only some of the unmanned aircraft. The DOA ETL requires that UAS- only runways be marked with a “UAS” on each end of the runway and notes that these runways are not designed to support standard manned fixed wing or rotorcraft takeoff, landing or taxiing operations. The DOAs ETL also defers to UFC 3-260-01 regarding helipad design criteria, specifically the limited-use helipad (50 ft by 50 ft). Four (4) new layout diagrams were added with dimensions recommendations for specific helicopters (UH-60 and CH-47/CH-53) and those sharing similar characteristics. The DOA ETL states that the performance and clearance requirements are currently being developed for helicopter UAS. The DOA also published an update to UFC 3-260-01 Airfield and Heliport Planning and Design in May 2014 (US Army, 2014). The main addition to UFC 3-260-01 is a new paragraph concerning elevated helipads. It defines what elevated helipads are, their location relative to the level of the roof, and recommended structure and design, including the recommendation for separate access points. Elevated helipads are relevant to UAS infrastructure planning because there are industry proposals to create UAS landing/take off sites on top of buildings including parking structures. However, AC 150/5390-2C also includes guidance on heliport site selection, and differentiates among various purposes (i.e., general aviation (GA) heliport, transport heliport, hospital heliports, helicopter facilities on airports) which, along with the detailed guidance provided in the military standards, forms a basis to determine how to modify the airside layout of the airport, if necessary, to accommodate manned and unmanned operations. 3.3.2 International UAS Infrastructure Standards Based on discussions with international aviation professionals (Representatives, 2018) and review of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and European EASA documentation, there are no specific international standards for UAS airport infrastructure. The ICAO has not published airfield infrastructure standards specifically for UAS nor has Annex 14, Aerodromes Volume I Aerodrome Design and Operations, been updated to specifically address UAS. However, ICAO has published two documents that address UAS integration challenges including issues at airports: ICAO Circular 328, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Document 10019, Manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   19 In 2007, during the second informal ICAO meeting on UASs, the need for a strategic guidance document to harmonize integration of UAS was recognized. The document, ICAO Circular 328, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) (ICAO Circular 328), was published in 2011. The purpose of ICAO Circular 328 was threefold: (1) present the ICAO perspective on integrating UAS into non- segregated airspace and at airports, (2) identify and take into consideration the differences between the operation of manned aircraft and unmanned aircraft, and (3) encourage collaboration and sharing of information between member states (ICAO, 2011). ICAO Circular 328 noted that ICAO’s existing Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) generally apply to UAS, since unmanned aircraft (UA) is considered an aircraft. That said, ICAO recognized that UAS-specific SARPs may be required to supplement the existing SARPs. However, ICAO Circular 328 did not address commercial passenger UAS nor autonomous UAS. According to ICAO, UAS carrying passengers “will not, for the foreseeable future, have passengers on board for remuneration” (ICAO Circular 328). Likewise, ICAO assumed that only remotely- piloted aircraft could be integrated into civil aviation in the foreseeable future. In terms of aerodromes, ICAO Circular 328 noted that integration of UAS at airports will be a challenge. Regardless, ICAO Circular 328 went on to state “…aerodrome standards should not be significantly changed and, and the equipment developed for RPA [Remotely Piloted Aircraft] must be able to comply with existing provisions to the greatest extent practicable” (ICAO, 2011). Also, in terms of airports for unmanned aircraft operations only, ICAO Circular 328 stated that current design standards would apply, along with special alterations to accommodate UAS-specific issues. Circular 328 also noted areas of concern for aerodrome operations given the unique characteristics of RPAs: a) Applicability of aerodrome signs and markings for RPA; b) Integration of RPA with manned aircraft operations on the maneuvering area of an aerodrome; c) Issues surrounding the ability of RPA to avoid collisions while maneuvering; d) Issues surrounding the ability of RPA to follow ATC instructions in the air or on the maneuvering area (e.g. “follow green Cessna 172” or “cross behind the Air France A320”); e) Applicability of instrument approach minima to RPA operations; f) Necessity of RPA observers at aerodromes to assist the remote pilot with collision avoidance requirements; g) Implications for aerodrome licensing requirements of RPA infrastructure, such as approach aids, ground handling vehicles, landing aids, and launch/recovery aids; h) Rescue and fire-fighting requirements for RPA (and remote pilot station, if applicable); i) RPA launch/recovery at sites other than aerodromes; j) Integration of RPA with manned aircraft in the vicinity of an aerodrome; and

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   20 k) Aerodrome implications for RPA-specific equipment (e.g. remote pilot stations) (ICAO, 2011) ICAO Circular 328 also discussed unique safety and security considerations relevant to aerodrome design. One such consideration was access to a remote pilot station. A remote pilot station is defined as “the component of the remote pilot aircraft system containing the equipment used to pilot the remotely piloted aircraft” (ICAO). Since the remote pilot station is separate from the aircraft itself, the station itself and installed equipment must be designed to withstand operational, environmental and security conditions, including unlawful communications interference, as designated in the Remote Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) certified flight manual. Both ICAO and EASA provide specific design, operating and equipment guidance related to remote pilot station standards (European Union Aviation Safety Agency, 2016). Further, both recommend that access control to the remote pilot station be to the same or greater level of security as currently applied to commercial aircraft. ICAO also developed the Manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) to “…provide guidance on technical and operational issues applicable to the integration of RPA in non-segregated airspace and at aerodromes” (ICAO). Chapter 15 of the manual identifies UAS integration issues with airports that should be considered by UAS stakeholders including airport operators. Integration issues are similar to those identified in ICAO Circular 328. The Manual also notes that aerodrome emergency response plans should include guidance related to RPAS and operator safety management plans. Recent Examples of UAS Infrastructure Planning This subsection describes recent UAS infrastructure planning at airports and at droneports (i.e., airfield facilities supporting UAS-only operations). 3.4.1 UAS Infrastructure Planning at Airports To date, UAS infrastructure planning and integration at public airports has been limited. The Eastern Oregon Regional Airport (PDT) Master Plan (October 2018) is the most robust example of recent UAS infrastructure planning. “The evaluation of UAS facility needs and operational issues as an element of the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport Master Plan represents the first known FAA- funded airport master plan in Oregon or the Northwest region to integrate UAS into conventional airport planning.” (Century West Engineering, 2018) Other planning efforts to incorporate UAS infrastructure at existing airports have been minimal likely due to lack of funding, interest, or local regulatory agency(ies) support. For example, the Airport Master Plan for the Silver Springs Airport (SPZ) in Nevada included limited reference to UAS. Since Nevada was selected as a designated UAS testing site, the SPZ Master Plan recommendations included constructing a designated area for a UAS apron, Aerial Operations Control Center and vehicle parking. The SPZ Master Plan also states that the “… UAS testing and training area should be segregated from manned aircraft movement areas…” (Armstrong Consultants, 2017). The 2017 Mankato Regional Airport (MKT) in Minnesota included limited UAS forecasts, airspace and facility needs related to UAS flight training and agricultural use as well as recommended dual use (i.e., manned and unmanned) infrastructure improvements which were highlighted in the report and Airport Layout Plan (ALP).

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   21 Therefore, the focus of the remainder of this section is on the PDT Master Plan. The City of Pendleton, Oregon began the process to update the PDT Master Plan in 2015. A final draft of the PDT Master Plan was published in December 2016 and the final report was published in October 2018. The final report can be found on the City of Pendleton’s website at https://pendleton.or.us/article/airport-master-plan. A summary of this plan can be found in Section 7: Appendix for PDT Airport Master Plan. 3.4.2 Droneport Planning Droneport infrastructure varies widely based on the intended services. A droneport, which may vary in size and scope, is a facility designed specifically to support UAS operations, and in some cases UAS operations only, rather than manned aircraft (Daniels, 2018). Droneport planning ranges from a ‘do more with less’ design for delivery of materials in Africa to futuristic concepts for anticipated Urban Air Mobility. Examples of droneport concepts and plans are highlighted in the following paragraphs. The Norman Foster Foundation, a non-profit institution, is advancing the Droneport project based on a design by British architect Foster +Partners. The Droneport project will facilitate delivery of medical supplies and necessities to communities in Africa that are difficult to reach. The Droneport’s infrastructure consists of a vaulted brick structure that the communities can build themselves. The design is flexible allowing multiple vaults to be linked together to meet community needs and evolving drone technology. A prototype was unveiled in 2016, and a pilot Droneport is to be developed in Rwanda (Norman Foster Foundation, 2016). The Eldorado Droneport and the USA Drone Port are designed to facilitate UAS testing, research and training. The master plan for the Eldorado Droneport located near Boulder City, Nevada intends to develop the following infrastructure: • “50 Acres zoned Light Manufacturing, accommodating R & D, testing and evaluation, assembly and manufacturing • Dronecube (60’ x 60’ x 30’) - Configurable with geotextile surface landing pad • A/C temp office space • A/C pilots lounge • 500-foot runway • Charging stations” (The Aerodrome, LLC, 2019) The Naval Base Gold County (NBVC) Point Mugu houses Navy unmanned patrol aircraft (Northrup Newsroom, 2018). The recently refurbished hangers provide maintenance and support for Navy UAS at a fully operational military airfield. • Hangar for four MQ-4C Triton aircraft • Runway 3-21 (11,100 x 200 feet) and Runway 9-27 (5,500 x 200 feet) • Designated UAV Zones for proper airspace separation (Department of the Navy, 2012) The USA Drone Port or National Unmanned Robotic Research and Development Center is located near Hazard, Kentucky. The USA Drone Port currently includes multiple flight areas and support facilities from asphalt runways to indoor flight testing and robotic manufacturing and printing. Currently, there are plans to expand beyond the three existing runways to provide:

Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook   22 • a secure onsite building that houses advanced manufacturing equipment; • an indoor unmanned flight-testing facility that provides for all-weather testing 24 hours-a- day; • office space; • hangars; • computer labs; • high-speed Internet access; and • a pilot safety shelter” (USA Drone Port, n.d.). USA Drone Port is an example of the possibility of integrating UAS and manned aircraft into one airport. It includes a simplified layout with hangers and facilities for UAS:  • a 3,500' runway and circular landing pads; • solution shops as well as hangars; and • Gigabit enabled office space, meeting areas, common areas and computer labs (USA Drone Port, n.d.). Examples of the most futuristic UAS infrastructure include proposals for Skyports presented at the 2018 Uber Elevate Summit. Skyport concepts were developed by Uber partner architects to accommodate more than 4,000 eVTOL passengers per hour within a three-acre area (Dickey, 2018). The Mega Skyport by Corgan consists of modular components that could be built in open spaces or on top of structures such as parking garages or skyscrapers (Dickey, 2018). Another concept developed by Pickard Chilton and Arup is called the Sky Tower. Individual modules of the Sky Tower are adaptable in that they could be constructed vertically or horizontally (Chilton, n.d.). As demand and technology continue to evolve, future airports will likely expand beyond their traditional role as a transportation center to become an attraction in their own right. Future airports will fill this new role, as shown by international trends, by providing community areas, living spaces, attractions, and other amenities to support user changing needs and wants. This will also likely require existing infrastructure, such as ground level parking and garages, to be retrofitted to support new demand. Thus, airport planning in the future must consider the impacts that UAS, Urban Air Mobility, automation, artificial intelligence, and sustainability will have on airport infrastructure, funding and financial viability.  

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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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