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Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 71 6 Anticipated Future Conditions Industry innovation has outpaced both U.S. regulations and ICAO standards and practices until recently. FAA, ICAO and the European Aviation Safety Agency have or are in the process of establishing UAS operational guidelines and airspace integration programs. The U.S. Congress as part of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act specifically enacted new legislation and guidance for FAA oversight and UAS integration into the NAS. In addition to the initial seven UAS test sites established in 2013, the FAA in May 2018 implemented the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) to help local, state, and tribal governments partner with the private sector to accelerate safe integration of UAS into the NAS. These participants are testing UAS applications in various sectors (i.e., delivery of time-sensitive medical equipment and controlling mosquito populations). In addition, some IPP test sites, like the initial seven test sites, are evaluating BVLOS operations and technology while others are focused on night operations and sense and avoid technologies. For example, as part of the IPP, the North Dakota DOT is testing large commercial UAS, BVLOS and UAS sensor technology at Grand Sky, which is part of the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The testing of BVLOS is crucial to developing an appropriate regulatory framework that will not hinder innovation. (Wyman, Why The Use Of Drones Still Faces Big Regulatory Hurdles, 2018). In addition, due to several natural disasters, in October 2018 the FAA granted two waivers (BVLOS and BVLOS above people) to State Farm Insurance Company due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence. (AUVSI, 2018). The IPP program currently provides an avenue for FAA to issue waivers to current regulations and is anticipated, like the EASA âBasic Regulationsâ framework (European Union Aviation Safety Agency, 2017), to help inform new enabling rules for low-altitude UAS operations and integration into national, and ultimately international, airspace. The FAA, ICAO and EASA have all re- established drone advisory committees or working groups comprised of industry leaders in UAS manufacturing and commercial operation. The overall purpose of these committees is to provide independent advice and recommendations for establishing standardized UAS operator, operating, and safety criteria for integration into the national and international airspace system. As stated, federal regulations today are limited and a framework for wide-scale commercial UAS operations does not currently exist. This is believed to be due to lack of regulation and technological hurdles (e.g., BVLOS, sense and avoid, aerial communications and current radio spectrum limitations). Further, FAAâs tendency to focus on UAS risks rather than potential benefits may have unintentionally helped foster a hesitant culture surrounding UAS, potentially affecting public perception of UAS operations. (Wyman, Why The Use Of Drones Still Faces Big Regulatory Hurdles, 2018) (NASEM, 2018). Thus, future UAS regulations, particularly related to large commercial UAS operations, will need to promote safety and security while encouraging innovation. Integration of these new regulations and practices will impact airport operations and infrastructure. Therefore, airports must consider these new provisions and requirements as part of their planning, design and operations efforts, whether through new provisions in the airport master planning process and/or additive measures as part of an airportâs Airport Certification Manual and general Part 139 operations, minimum standards, and operational procedures related to airport safety and security. Given current data and discussions with airport sponsors and government officials, UAS operating on or near an airport does impact airport air traffic procedures. However, the type and level of operational and infrastructure impacts is still unclear due to limited guidance and regulations. What is clear is that the type of UAS and application will shape the regulatory environment in the years to
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 72 come. Thus, the focus of this section is on potential UAS development and airport opportunities and impacts anticipated to occur beyond 2028. Although the future of UAS continues to be debated, internal government and external industry forecasts both agree that a shift in demand is likely to occur in the late 2020s because of various factors including: public acceptance, economic/market demand, technology, regulations and infrastructure needs. Since it is anticipated that UAS, especially large UAS, will replace aircraft in mature aviation market sectors such as agriculture, cargo, and passenger travel in addition to creating new aviation opportunities, airports at large need to remain flexible to adapt to changes that UAS technology is driving. The findings of this section highlight likely long-term impacts of UAS on airport infrastructure, operations, and airspace using some of the recommendations highlighted in ACRP Report 144 as well as insight obtained from stakeholder interviews, available data, and anticipated market demand. Public Acceptance Public acceptance of UAS technology is considered the most vital for investment, favorable UAS regulation, and overall integration into the overall transportation system. If safety concerns are effectively addressed in conjunction with a public perception shift regarding automation and artificial intelligence, then UAS growth is expected to increase, especially in the large UAS market, exponentially. Public acceptance of unmanned and autonomous aircraft is anticipated but depends on how society embraces other daily technology that regularly makes decisions without significant human input. Several studies were performed to determine public perception of UAS specifically regarding safety compared to manned aircraft, government and news descriptions of UAS technology, and other concerns. Both the Queensland Australian Study completed in 2015 (Clothier, Greer, Greer, & Mehta, 2015) and a 2013 U.S. study completed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Ison, Liu, & Vincenzi, 2013) determined that public perception of the technology was neutral, which was the result of limited knowledge of UAS technology. However, less than half the respondents of the U.S.-based survey would be uncomfortable with UAS except in a firefighting and weather monitoring capacity. Both studies revealed that privacy was the primary concern followed by safety, military use, and misuse (e.g., terrorism). Both the 2013 and 2015 studies revealed that the public was not yet ready to accept widespread use of such technology. However, if privacy and safety issues can be overcome through improved coordination and transparency with the public, then expansion of UAS technology beyond its current uses is likely. Improvements in technology, especially regarding aircraft autonomy, is expected to cause a paradigm shift as people become more comfortable with the technology. As noted in the recent Department of Defense Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap (2017-2042), advances in autonomy are expected to âgreatly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of both manned and unmanned systems.â (DOD, 2018). Autonomous systems allow the system to independently develop and select different courses of action based upon the mission goals as well as the entitiesâ knowledge of the environment and situation. In the future, it is anticipated that both military and commercial UAS will draw from past aircraft and air crew data when making decisions, which is expected to instill confidence in air traffic controllers, operators and the public regarding the overall safety of autonomous aircraft operations. Since the size of UAS will need to increase to meet data and mission requirements (e.g., passenger and cargo transport), acceptance of large UAS by consumers is
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 73 critical. As shown by the Uber Elevate and other UAS passenger models, an optionally piloted aircraft may be useful in mitigating concerns in addition to liability and insurance concerns. Market Demand Although the DOD has used UAS since World War II, regulation and mass adoption of commercial and civil UAS are still in the early stages. ACRP Report 144, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer, was published in 2015 to assist airports and stakeholders in understanding how UAS can impact airports. Although much of the information found in that report remains accurate, additional steps should be taken by airport sponsors and regulators to address the demands of this quickly evolving industry. Economic drivers will continue to push and shape demand by determining UAS applications with a viable customer base. UAS is currently being used on a small scale for the movement of objects as well as surveillance and photography with commercial UAS delivery services expected to be implemented within the next five to 10 years (Cohn, Green, Langstaff, & Roller, 2017). However, other potential uses such as large air cargo, personal and commercial air travel, and law enforcement and medical evacuation will require a longer development and approval timeline (Cohn, Green, Langstaff, & Roller, 2017). Global commercial pilot demand forecasts for the next twenty years anticipate a substantial shortfall in available pilots, by approximately 600,000, in the next twenty years due to attrition including retirements, increased number of aircraft in service, decrease in military trained pilots, high cost vs. salaries, and less vocational interest. Due to this shortage, industry and DOD are looking to technology to help fill the gap. With enough automation built in, only a âsafety pilotâ would be needed in case something unexpected happens. Automation continues to be integrated into passenger aircraft, improving safety and aircraft performance. In the 1980s, commercial airlines decreased the flight crew from three (flight engineer, co-pilot and pilot) to two (co-pilot and pilot). UAS integration will be impacted not only by public acceptance, technology, and operating infrastructure, but by market timing and safety concerns as well. Future aviation is anticipated to consist of a combination of automation, new aircraft design, new propulsion systems (i.e., electric and/or hybrid) as well as introduction of subsonic, supersonic and long-haul hypersonic/suborbital flights. (Crosby-Close & Ros, 2018). Based upon existing data and discussions with FAA personnel, U.S. and international industry and airport stakeholders, early adopters of new UAS technology will be the DOD, research and development agencies and organizations, including the FAA Technology Center, and various UAS test sites, in addition to early adopter commercial operators such as urban air mobility, agriculture, survey, cargo shipping, telecommunications as well as firefighting/emergency management. These early adopters are expected to expand their fleets to include large vehicles, autonomous but with pilot back-up, either on-board or remotely, resulting from anticipated improvements in endurance, sensor payloads, and onboard data processing. Note that medivac patient transfer is not expected within this first stage of market integration. During this first stage of market integration, major infrastructure improvements within the airport environment except for additional storage facilities, additional markings and visual navigational equipment, communications, and backup power supply, may not be warranted. However, since the face of transportation has not changed substantially since the 1950s and large infrastructure projects can take more than a decade to complete, airport infrastructure planning and environmental efforts should begin to address the anticipated next stage of market demand including integration of large
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 74 passenger and cargo UAS, including manned and unmanned regional/short-haul electric aircraft and âlast mileâ electric air taxi operations. The next stage, which will be based upon technology and regulatory improvements, will likely involve some level of UAS substitution of aircraft within mature market segments, but still likely requiring a âsafetyâ pilot, including large air cargo, corporate/business, air taxi and air carrier passenger, emergency management and medivac, civil and military transport and fighter aircraft as well as various aviation related training programs (air traffic control, aircraft maintenance and some flight training). Improvements associated with substitution of some manned aircraft operations with UAS are also anticipated to create new uses for UAS applications including, but not limited to, use of UAS for non-aviation construction as well as for the transfer of products from inland ports to large marine vessels. Development of UAS along with other transportation technology improvements is anticipated to completely change transportation worldwide. Improvements in Technology As technology improves, it will enable new and expanded UAS applications. Ongoing technology improvements include autonomous flight, battery performance, detect and avoid technology, and development of electrical propulsion systems for passenger aircraft. Recently, NASA successfully flew a large UAS in the NAS without the use of a chase or safety aircraft (Northon, 2018). The aircraft was able to take off from Edwards Air Force Base and land successfully at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCT). This example is indicative of a statement cited in the previous ACRP Report 144: namely, large UAS may require facilities similar to those of manned aircraft and operate in like manner. (Fleet, Grosoli, Neubauer, & Verstynen, 2015, p. 18). UAS military operations have and continue to occur at commercial and joint use airports (e.g., Syracuse Hancock International Airport) with few issues since these vehicles, for the most part, operated like manned aircraft. Conversely, other smaller rotorcraft UAS for personal or recreational use are not likely to impact airport infrastructure as current regulation bans UAS operations in a 5- mile radius at airports. (Matthews, Esq., Frisbie, P.E., & Cistone, Ph.D., 2017). It may be in airportsâ best interest to attract large UAS as opposed to smaller, commercial ones (Wanner, 2018) unless operational limitations and infrastructure (i.e., Air Traffic procedures, designated apron areas for landing and takeoff, and on-site coordination with stakeholders) can safely and effectively be implemented. This includes airport operations staff use of small UAS for on-site survey and wildlife management. Large UAS (greater than 55 lbs.), which are anticipated to be the primary UAS users of an airport, are likely to operate like traditional manned aircraft. Businesses utilizing large UAS would be treated like manned aircraft tenants by paying traditional airport operating fees to contribute to an airportâs financial sustainability. This could also include fuel services associated with electrical charging stations or more traditional fuels like JP8, 100LL, Jet A and gasoline. This would allow airports to generate additional revenue from UAS operators including fees obtained from charging stations as well as potential advertising revenue. Another consideration related to larger UAS operations is the potential for the previously mentioned new on-demand services (e.g., Lyft and Uber business models) that can now be built in new, constrained areas within cities much akin to heliport or short takeoff and landing airport (STOLport) operations. A STOLport is an airport designed to accommodate short aircraft takeoff
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 75 and landing operations and is limited to certain types of aircraft. STOLports typically include short runways (<2000 feet) and have limited infrastructure compared to traditional airports. New concepts include Uber aerial vehicle services located over existing highways for Uber vehicle transfer to aerial vehicles. Such new vertical type âairportsâ would require their own rules, regulations, planning/design/construction requirements. Nearby airports would need to coordinate with these types of facilities based on air traffic routing, Uber split services into an airport vs. the STOLport, and overall traffic avoidance through air traffic control. As a result of these new operations and consumer demand, significant changes in infrastructure both at the airport and within the intracity environment will be needed. While public acceptance of a fully-automated airliner is not envisaged within the next 20 years, it would allow the industry to more effectively handle the pilot shortfall. In addition, the airline industry could save as much as $30 billion if it replaces pilots by adopting autonomous flight technology (Zhang, 2017). According to a member of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the greatest challenge to aerospace development is ânot technological, but financial or operationalâ (Crosby-Close & Ros, 2018). The planned use of electric propulsion for short haul flying as well as tiltrotor technology for intracity air taxi operations will transform air travel. In addition, some tasks that have historically occurred within the airport environment, such as luggage check-in and identity verification via biometrics could be completed as part of the UAS air taxi service, which may fix âone of the major pain points in the air travel experience.â (Crosby-Close & Ros, 2018). Today unmanned aircraft are remotely controlled or perform pre-programmed tasks, but over time, aircraft autonomous functions will expand eventually allowing a fully independent unmanned system that can operate with little to no human input. Growth of autonomous technology will also push improvements in communications, cybersecurity, data management, avionics and sensors, all of which will support both the growth of UAS and the transmutation of aviation itself. Regulations Regulations continue to determine the viability of different UAS applications and typically cover three specific areas: UAS operations, operators, and vehicles. Operations focuses on beyond line of sight, autonomous operations, altitude restrictions, flights over people, and airspace integration. Federal regulations will continue to govern operator certification as well as training requirements, whereas regulations governing UAS vehicles are likely to be a combination of federal and state regulations. Vehicle regulations have and will likely include UAS identification, aircraft propulsion systems, airworthiness, use (e.g. passenger, cargo, surveillance, and military), and weight restrictions. Unmanned aerial systems cover a large spectrum of vehicles including the smallest of nano drones to the largest military aircraft. To date, UAS operations are used for a variety of missions including surveillance and safety purposes, fire and rescue, security, law enforcement, wildlife management, environmental monitoring, etc (Matthews, Esq., Frisbie, P.E., & Cistone, Ph.D., 2017). Additionally, more recent operations include providing cellular service to areas affected by disaster for emergency response purposes (Margaritoff, 2018), the use of the current telecommunication network LTE for wide-area connectivity to allow UAS-to-UAS communication, (Asplund, et al., 2018) and even to deploy flotation devices to save swimmers caught in rough tides (Kwai, 2018). These examples are by no means a comprehensive list of UAS applications. There will certainly be additional uses in the future as technological advances occur, some of which have not yet been conceived. However, this begs the following questions: how well equipped is the current regulatory environment to promote
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 76 the safe use of UAS in these emerging applications? How do these UAS operations impact current airport facilities or the NAS at large? The regulations that have been addressed to this point have been primarily at a national level. However, state and local government will also play a role in shaping the UAS regulatory environment. Two years ago, Uber Elevate published a white paper called âFast-Forwarding to a Future of On-Demand Urban Air Transportation.â The document highlights a case for urban mobility using electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The paper describes using existing infrastructure such as ârepurposed tops of parking garages, existing helipads, and unused land surrounding highway interchangesâ as potential operation sites for the aircraft. The document is interesting for two reasons. First, a large corporation is pursuing large-scale aircraft operations that would not primarily occur at airports. Secondly, Uber Elevate has partnered with local governments in Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, CA to make on-demand aerial ridesharing (Uber Air) a reality. This development raises questions pertaining to the role of state regulation compared to federal regulation. The FAA regulates the NAS, however, it is less clear the extent of that jurisdiction (Donohue, 2018, pp. 1-57). Some academic literature suggests that states and local government may be better equipped to regulate UAS operations opposed to the federal government (Donohue, 2018, pp. 1-57). On the local level, this would require set coordination protocols between local airports and the communities surrounding them to ascertain the type of UAS that will impact the area and NAS. Based on the current market and academic literature, it is apparent that the impact of UAS at airports will differ depending on the type of UAS and application. For widescale adoption of UAS into the NAS, it will be necessary for UAS to operate autonomously and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). (Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and Avascent, 2018). It is also likely that UAS will need to grow in weight and size (beyond 55 pounds) to provide value on a large scale. Sense and avoid technologies for UAS have been improving as technological innovations push the boundaries of autonomy. Yet, the regulatory framework does not yet exist to support BVLOS operations for personal or commercial UAS use. âAbsent the 5-miles restriction, such limiting operating parameters might suffice for some on-airport uses of UAS (e.g., surveying or wildlife monitoring), but ultimately more sophisticated capabilities will be integral to most practical business and commercial operations.â (Matthews, Esq., Frisbie, P.E., & Cistone, Ph.D., 2017). Future regulation for UAS will require thoughtful consideration of UAS applications as well as integration with other aviation activities. Infrastructure Needs The previous ACRP Report 144 poses several questions that airport operators should consider when evaluating the potential UAS infrastructure changes. (Fleet, Grosoli, Neubauer, & Verstynen, 2015, p. 20). If there are future infrastructure changes that need to be made at airports, the following list provides several areas to consider. 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?
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 77 â¢ What sort of control station is required (truck, trailer, office space [or area for UAS pilots to operate their aircraft])? 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 towers of antennas to ensure communications are established and maintained with the UAS? â¢ Will the communication frequencies needed create conflicts? Will they interfere with existing 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 GA airport might need to bring in a local fire department truck to standby for UAS operations as a matter of protocol. â¢ What type of fuel facilities are needed and where do they need to be located? â¢ Do operators need a place to dispose of batteries and other UAS aircraft operational waste management? UAS applications and market demand ultimately will dictate whether operations will need to occur at an airport or at an offsite location. Infrastructure needed to support UAS activity will include, at a minimum: â¢ Charging stations â¢ Landing facilities and other assets â¢ Air Traffic Management facilities â¢ Vertiports â¢ UAS service centers where UAS Air Taxi and other transport vehicles can be stored, inspected and repaired â¢ Distribution hubs to load and receive goods from UAS â¢ Receiving stations As UAS become more sophisticated and the missions expand, additional infrastructure will be required. Although current market conditions and academic literature indicate that substantial improvements to airport infrastructure are not warranted, use of large UAS, whether commercial or military, will have a substantial impact. According to both the Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and Avascent, âthrough 2036 large unmanned aircraft are expected to drive nearly $150 billion in total spending and sustain up to 60,000 R&D, manufacturing and services jobs annually.â (Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and Avascent, 2018). It is anticipated that all UAS, depending upon mission and need, may use airport infrastructure at some level. However, UAS aircraft with weights greater than 10,000 pounds will need airport infrastructure or similar landing and takeoff infrastructure to effectively operate. The Corgan CONNECT Mega Skyport concept supports Uber Air eVTOL urban air operations as well as provides a facility that is not only a transportation hub but provides an urban location that meets the needs of the community. According to the Corgan Blog (Corgan, n.d.), their vision uses
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 78 the space above major highways to provide locations for development of commercial and social environments that support and connect communities. It is apparent that the types of UAS and UAS applications will continue to evolve, and development will depend upon need. This in turn will drive regulatory changes specific to the UAS application. At present, airports would benefit from considering the types of facilities that would attract large UAS operators, among these could be available apron, hangar, and office space (Fleet, Grosoli, Neubauer, & Verstynen, 2015). Large UAS operators, when treated as an airport tenant, has the potential to generate additional revenue if procedures are implemented to allow for safe coordination with manned operations. The potential economic impact of UAS at airports is already documented in several cases where airports and local government have partnered to pursue such opportunities. For example, the Economic Development Administration has recently awarded a $3 million-dollar grant to help develop a 20,000-square foot facility in Cape May County Airport, New Jersey, specifically to promote innovation in the UAS industry (EDA Public Affairs Department, 2018). In Oregon, the Pendleton City County has approved a $600,000 task order to extend utilities to a new industrial park, north of the airport, meant to support UAS businesses (Sierra, 2018). Airports along with government, academia and industry can collaborate using governmental grants (e.g. U.S. Commerce, DOT, FAA, and DOD), public-private partnerships, public-public partnerships, and academic development to enhance opportunities for UAS development while creating an environment for UAS operations to innovate. GA, reliever airports, and commercial facilities with available capacity and infrastructure, such as UAS specific runways, STOLports and/or vertical takeoff and landing pads, could provide an incubator for UAS growth and aviation technology evolution. UAS runways or STOLports would allow segregation of traffic such as commercial, cargo or flight training activities as well as support additional aviation related development and efficient use of available airport property. 6.5.1 Environmental Changes/Needs As UAS technology improves, it is anticipated that more electric means of propulsion will become more common. It is not unreasonable that airports and UAS operators will require a means of properly disposing of used batteries. Although this does present an environmental concern, at the time of this writing, little information is readily available beyond speculation. It is feasible that airports could begin considering used batteries in a waste/recycling program (Hodgman, 2018). Additionally, noise levels are different for UAS which should be taken into consideration from the public perspective (Fleet, Grosoli, Neubauer, & Verstynen, 2015). Beyond considerations of battery disposal and potential noise concerns, no other environmental challenges were noted based on a review of the literature and none are expected based on the current trends related to UAS. 6.5.2 Communication and Operational Needs Airports should take measures to ensure safety by offering redundancies for UAS operations. Most commercial and civil UAS, unlike their military counterparts (e.g., Global Hawk) require additional time on the runway or taxiway to calibrate their systems, thus impacting airfield capacity. UAS operations may also require additional protocols, communication and safety measures compared to manned aircraft. Thus, due to these current technological and operating limitations, manned and unmanned aircraft operations generally remain separate (Fleet, Grosoli, Neubauer, & Verstynen, 2015).
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 79 The communication challenges will be overcome as technological advances and innovations occur to sensor, GPS, spectrum and communication technology. Although it is possible that UAS communication technology may require the expansion of remote towers, which have the potential to affect airport infrastructure/operations, the previous ACRP Report 144 noted that âno specific challenges encountered by airports with UAS operations were discovered.â This finding is supported by current developments at the IPP test sites which show that the FAA has and is allowing UAS operations in more densely populated areas. 6.5.3 Funding and Grant Assurances If UAS operate like manned aircraft at airports, it is reasonable to assume that UAS operators should be treated like manned aircraft operators. ACRP Report 144 notes that some airport operators believe that UAS facility development will ultimately become AIP eligible (Fleet, Grosoli, Neubauer, & Verstynen, 2015, p. 31). Additionally, to avoid potential conflicts, airports must charge fair market rates comparable to their manned counterparts to comply with existing federal and state grant assurances. However, concerns have been raised about how UAS operators will contribute financially to maintain infrastructure if operations do not require runway facilities (Wanner, 2018). Airport infrastructure costs will depend on the type and mission of the UAS. Funding will also depend upon anticipated infrastructure use: public or private. As UAS operations become more of a âpublic good,â airport infrastructure is more likely to be eligible for federal funding. Ultimately, a combination of governmental funding and public-private partnership funding is expected to support UAS infrastructure at airports, as well as other infrastructure available for public use such as those used by emergency responders. Yet, if federal, state or local governments do not establish a stake in UAS infrastructure, businesses could create a monopoly through a closed system of vertiports or other related infrastructure (Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and Avascent, 2018). Therefore, like private airports, governments, both federal and state, should take a role in at least regulating private UAS infrastructure and requiring public access as needed for aviation safety and security. What is clear is that the UAS industry has been growing as more money is poured into research and development. Beyond these general speculations, funding concerns surrounding UAS will continue to remain uncertain until UAS operations become more typical. Findings and Anticipated Future Conditions Based on current industry news, informed speculation, and emerging UAS technologies, airport sponsors should be mindful of changes that need to occur. Because the industry is making significant investments in UAS technology, research and development, the outcome of these efforts will invariably require changes to both regulations and airport infrastructure. The type of UAS operations will determine, in part, the impact at and to airports. Other factors affecting airports will include the regulatory environment, available funding and scale of UAS deployment. Figure 5
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 80 outlines the different types of UAS and some of their anticipated effects on airports in the future. Figure 5 : Anticipated impact factors of UAS at airports Commercial UAS activity is likely to impact airports, depending on the scale of the activity and UAS. It is anticipated that large scale delivery of packages by UAS would require airport infrastructure. For example, for the carriage of property, one potential scenario could be the distribution of packages by UAS from the cargo area of an airport. Boeing CEO has said, âthe full vision of self- flying cars ferrying people through busy urban areas will take longer than five years to realize, â¦but vehicles that start with more simple functions like cargo arenât far awayâ (Levy, 2018). As the cargo aircraft arrive at an airport, UAS could be used to deliver and distribute the payload directly from the cargo facilities, replacing other equipment and/or humans that are conducting some of this today. For smaller commercial operations such as aerial photography or inspection, UAS may not require the use of an airport due to their smaller size and minimal/nonexistent payload requirements. Such examples include UAS operations by insurance companies or real estate agencies. However, these types of UAS operations can also occur on airport property such as the inspection of pavement conditions or security perimeters. Simply put, the effect UAS technology will have on airports depends greatly on the application and type of UAS. Urban mobility â as demonstrated by the efforts of Uber, Boeing and Airbus â has the potential to affect facilities both on and off airport property. The industry is already seeing evidence of this. Like Uber Elevate, Vahana announced their first successful flight earlier this year with their electric VTOL designed for urban mobility (Lovering, 2018). The air taxis that Uber envisions could âsiphon off a chunk of shorter flights [at airports] that are 500 miles or lessâ (Bachman, 2017). This scenario envisions UAS replacing short, commuter flights. However, battery technology currently doesnât support the sort of range that would be required for this change. These types of UAS operations, if realized at airports, may trend toward uncongested smaller GA or small commercial airports for several reasons. First, testing UAS operations at an airport may be easier in terms of proving emerging technology, especially to the FAA. Secondly, smaller and less busy airports have existing infrastructure such as runways, helipads, and taxiways, and potentially terminal facilities and hangars that can be utilized to operate and accommodate UAS activity, thus sparing capital investment in new infrastructure. As an example, electric VTOLs could utilize existing helipads for operational activity. However, as the technology becomes more commonplace, these UAS would require other areas for maintenance and storage â this may require vertical infrastructure that would require the proper fueling stations (electricity or otherwise), and access much like a GA terminal. While automobile parking may be a near term need to accommodate travelers who are being AnticipatedÂ ImpactÂ ofÂ UASÂ atÂ Airports CommercialÂ UAS LargeâscaleÂ Delivery LikelyÂ toÂ requireÂ Airports ServiceÂ Providers LessÂ likelyÂ toÂ requireÂ AirportsÂ PersonalÂ UrbanÂ Mobility BothÂ airportÂ andÂ nonâ airportÂ facilities WideâscaleÂ CommercialÂ AirÂ Travel LikelyÂ toÂ requireÂ Airports PersonalÂ &Â RecreationalÂ UAS LessÂ LikelyÂ toÂ requireÂ Airports GovernmentÂ UAS Military LikelyÂ toÂ requireÂ Airports SurveillanceÂ &Â Safety RemainsÂ toÂ beÂ seen AgriculturalÂ UAS CombinationÂ ofÂ bothÂ airportÂ andÂ nonâairportÂ facilities
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 81 transported, it may not be needed in the future depending on the evolution of automated and/or shared vehicles. Either way, the ability of passengers to access the âterminalâ or locations where the UAS are operating will be required so ground transportation and access need to be considered. Most existing airports typically have these facilities already in place. Airspace conditions would need to change accordingly to accommodate UAS activity, whether passenger or freight. This is another advantage of using existing airports since the airspace is already reserved and generally protected for existing manned activity, compared to activity that may take place at new locations or in metropolitan areas that do not today have flight corridors. Conversely, should regulation and conditions not be conducive to on-airport UAS development, it is likewise feasible that private investment for UAS infrastructure could occur elsewhere, off airport property. The case of Uber Elevate highlights the use of existing infrastructure for the operation of electric VTOLs on vacant land, existing helicopter pads, hospitals, hotels, and other buildings for take-off and landing. Should the industry trend this way, UAS urban mobility operations may require changes to regulation, more than physical changes at airports due to the potential prevalence of low- altitude UAS operations. It is feasible that a private facility could be developed for storage, maintenance and deployment of on-demand electric VTOLs. Airspace conditions are likely to be less stringent at a private facility as compared to at an active airport with existing conditions. Availability of funding also affects where investment in UAS development occurs. Regardless, UAS for urban mobility has the potential to significantly affect how our cities and airports operate, opening an entirely new dimension of invisible highways in the sky. Airport sponsors should be aware of how the market is trending to anticipate the changes that may or may not be required at their airports. Should airport sponsors feel the need, these impacts can be prepared for by preserving space for future UAS activities, both airside and landside, on airport layout plans while also considering addressing potential UAS and other new technology infrastructure needs as part of future infrastructure design. As it relates to wide-scale commercial travel, current aircraft can travel great distances on auto-pilot. Logically, the next step is full autonomy for commercial aircraft and passenger travel. Although airlines will continue to utilize airports, aircraft may become more and more autonomous, eventually allowing air traffic control to monitor and control aircraft operations. The explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years promises advances that could potentially lead to a machine-directed NAS. Steps towards this are evidenced at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport which employs an artificial intelligence developed by Searidge Technology to enhance air traffic control and airport efficiency (Searidge Technology, 2017). Public acceptance of AI in air traffic control and autonomous commercial flights are another issue to be considered. It is anticipated that personal and recreational UAS operations will largely remain separate from the airport environment, although there are low-activity airports looking to accommodate this activity. Several low-activity airports see the potential to be used for personal and recreational operations like model aircraft that have been around for many years. These airports could serve as hubs for this type of activity, especially if their traditional manned counterparts are not operating at the facilities. Whether individuals want to operate at an existing low-activity airport will be driven by factors such as cost, distance and ability to conduct the types of operations they are interested in performing. Government sponsored UAS operations will likely continue to occur at airports. Military UAS operate like manned aircraft with subtle differences. Other state-sponsored services such as firefighting and search and rescue operations may also require airport infrastructure akin to the current manned operations. This is primarily because larger UAS may require a runway for take-off
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 82 and landing. It is not anticipated that military or other government type UAS operations will significantly alter the way airports currently operate. Similarly, agricultural UAS may not have as significant an impact to the average individual as urban mobility UAS. Agricultural UAS can operate from both airport and non-airport facilities. Larger UAS that carry heavy payloads for crop spraying would likely require airport infrastructure while smaller UAS used for inspection and monitoring could be deployed in proximity to the activity which may or may not be close to an airport. Informed speculation is meant to capture a glimpse of what the future of UAS could look like. It is important to consider that informed speculation is merely that â and the future of UAS is a world of new possibilities. However, what is clearer is that the challenge for UAS will be both technical and regulatory. As battery technology, autonomy and sense and avoid systems improve, legislation must also keep pace. ââ¦Overly restrictive rulesets curtail exports and risk spoiling U.S. leadership in this emerging global market [of UAS]â (Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and Avascent, 2018). It is anticipated that the FAA will administer more waivers for organizations to test UAS applications. These tests, which will occur both at the IPP test sites and elsewhere, provide the foundation for new and appropriate regulation. UAS is a disruptive technology which has the potential to not only impact airports, but how we communicate, interact, provide service, deliver, travel and much more. Final Thoughts Based on interviews with professionals in the UAS industry, academic literature, and industry news, it is anticipated that UAS will affect airports â to what extent, however, is still uncertain. Airport sponsors can take a proactive approach to pursuing such opportunities. The previous ACRP Report 144 provided practical actions that airport sponsors could take to be prepared for future UAS conditions. (Fleet, Grosoli, Neubauer, & Verstynen, 2015) Table 10 from that report outlines which steps may lead to action items and plans that, to the extent possible, should be captured by airport sponsors in their master plans. Table 10 : Airport action items and resulting benefits to the airport Airport Action Benefits to the Airport Engage with a UAS National Test Site Test sites have available segregated airspace; COAs in place; potential research requirements for airports. Engage with Area Universities Multiple universities offer UAS related courses; multiple universities conduct UAS research; universities are partnered with national UAS test sites and Center of Excellence proposal teams. Contact State Government Departments of Aviation; Commerce, Agriculture, and Forestry; Mines, Minerals, and Energy; state police may be potential advocates for UAS businesses at airports. Attend UAS Conferences and Seminars Conferences and seminars on aspects of the UAS industry are conducted regularly to network and become informed on upcoming technologies.
Incorporating UAS into Airport InfrastructureâPlanning Guidebook Â 83 Airport Action Benefits to the Airport Investigate Complementary UAS Businesses Research UAS businesses that could be supported by the airport or by the local economy. Determine UAS Facility/Infrastructure Requirements Inventory airport facilities and infrastructure that could be used by UAS operators for marketing purposes. Contact the FAA FAA Office of Airports (ARP) and FAA UAS Integration Office (AFS-80) can inform and offer direction to interested airports. Several challenges face UAS integration into the NAS. Technological innovations are rapidly occurring. Some of the biggest barriers to UAS integration include regulatory agencies âstatus quo mindsetâ toward UAS and infrastructure needs, inflexible rulemaking and/or guidance that does not consider potential technological innovations, and export definitions that currently designate UAS as a cruise missile, hampering commercial development. (Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and Avascent, 2018) Multiple test sites are evaluating the application of commercial UAS operations in several applications. It is anticipated that the FAA will incrementally allow more complex UAS operations as technology such as BVLOS and sense and detect/avoid improves. Aviation continues to evolve as new technologies are introduced and as the population and U.S. economy grows. Thus, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the following policy options can support aviation growth: â¢ âEnsuring that sufficient revenue is available to support the operating and capital needs of our national airspace system. â¢ Balancing the systemâs multiple and sometimes conflicting needs for modernization, maintenance, access, efficiency, capacity, environmental sustainability, and services. â¢ Enabling the safe integration of commercial space flights and unmanned aircraft systems into the NAS while minimizing risk to other users of the system. â¢ Shifting to a more collaborative, data-informed and risk-based safety management approach to proactively address emerging safety risks. â¢ Improving surface access to airports for passengers and freight.â (DOT, 2018) In short, âa combination of technological advances and growing consumer comfort â enabled by sound policy decisions and a supportive regulatory environment â will ultimately fuel economic growth and job creation [in the UAS industry].â (Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and Avascent, 2018).