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Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators Â 3 1 Introduction 1.1 Background The rapid introduction of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) has far-reaching ramifications for the users of existing manned aircraft. Rapid and large-scale changes due to technological advances can jeopardize the safety of people and property. Furthermore, the Federal Aviation Administrationâs (FAA) UAS integration effortsâincluding counter-UAS mechanisms, remote identification and tracking, and airspace authorization waiversâ have direct implications for airport operators. Introduction of UAS will pose safety, economic, operational, regulatory, community, environmental, and infrastructure challenges to airports. These risks are further complicated by the dynamic nature of UAS technological development. Experiences and lessons learned from recent major aviation system changes demonstrate the critical importance of ensuring that airports have the resources needed to avoid adverse impacts and maximize benefits as early as possible. This research effortâAirports and UASâin support of the Transportation Research Boardâs (TRBâs) Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) aims to develop an initial set of critical resources and tools for use by airport operators. 1.2 Overview of âPotential Uses of UAS for Airport Operators â This guidance document provides airports with resources to appropriately integrate UAS missions as part of their standard operations. The use of UAS by airports can result in efficiency gains if implemented effectively. However, improper implementation will cause safety risks and damage effective airport operations. This document covers several topics. First, potential uses of UAS at airports will be identified. Some of these uses can be applied immediately in the short-term. However, others may require changes in the current legal framework, infrastructure, and operational procedures of airports. When applicable, this document will indicate if such a change is required to safely and routinely perform a UAS use. Implementation timeline will also be described when appropriate. Second, safety concerns and mitigation solutions related to UAS operations will be described. Impacts to operations, personnel, and equipment can be mitigated with thorough coordination, planning, and communication when operating UAS at an airport. A safety management system (SMS) application describing this approach is included in this document to provide a framework for safety considerations when implementing UAS. Third, stakeholder coordination best practices will be analyzed. Airport operations have many stakeholders at play. For UAS operations to take place successfully, coordination is necessary among these stakeholders. The lessons learned from past experiences as well as best practices are documented. Airport operators will need to find and identify the stakeholders most pertinent to their operations. They should consider involving stakeholders in regulatory, local communities, emergency personnel, operators, airlines, and any other airport personnel whom might be impacted. Fourth, regulatory requirements are identified. The fast-paced regulatory landscape governing UAS operations requires airport operators to maintain current knowledge of the requirements to fly UAS. This document provides an overview of the current parameters. Before conducting any UAS operations, airport operators should have a plan to work through the relevant authorization processes as it applies to them. Operators must understand the purpose of their UAS operation, the
Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators Â 4 location of the operation, and any property or personnel who might be impacted. The operator must reference specific regulations and identify those that pertain to the scope of their operation. As with any flight, the UAS operation needs to have a clear and concise flight plan. This helps maintain a smooth, purposeful operation that yields the expected results. A schedule of events with clearly identified mission areas, staging areas, and other such areas that the operation will occupy should be provided and understood by all who will participate. At the very least, a general understanding of the area and times impacted by UAS operations should be understood by all at the airport. 1.3 Guidebook Audience and Format This guidebook is aimed at airport operators or personnel interested in integrating UAS to fulfill airport operations and expand their capabilities at the airport. This document is not intended for recreational users who are looking to fly UAS at an airport. This document is structured into sections that will walk airport operators and personnel through how to use UAS at their airport. It is meant to provide a format that will allow airport operators and personnel the ability to pick up and identify the most pertinent information to them based on their interests. Section 2 provides a description of the types of UAS operations that can be implemented at airports. It is intended to provide some examples of ways airports can use UAS. Section 3 details how airport SMS plans can be enhanced to include UAS operations. Section 4 details the elements of planning a UAS operation at airports. Section 5 describes the UAS operations that were conducted to test the UAS operational planning guidance that are presented in this document. The guidance on UAS applications relies on past data collection efforts (such as workshops and airport interviews) and is organized more broadly into the most prevalent and in-demand uses of UAS at airports. An overarching, high-level, approach to conducting UAS operations is included to allow quick reference by airport operators when considering whatâs required for them to operate UAS at their airport. These are meant to act as guidance that airport operators can use and apply to their airports. The case studies are intended to provide more detailed examples and provide lessons learned and best practices gathered that airport operators can apply to their unique situations. Â