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Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
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Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
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Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
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Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
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Page 34
Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
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Page 35
Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
×
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Page 36
Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
×
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Page 39
Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
×
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Page 40
Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
×
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Page 41
Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
×
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Suggested Citation:"5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25607.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   29 5 UAS Demonstration Case Studies 5.1 Front Range Airport (KFTG)/ Colorado Air and Space Port This section will cover the UAS field demonstration that was conducted by the Booz Allen team at Front Range Airport (FTG). This section will describe the demonstration details and how it was conducted using the approach provided in Section 4. Unique considerations and scenarios to this field demonstration will be called out to help highlight the unique decision making and logistics that go into conducting UAS operations at a controlled airfield. Front Range Airport is a towered Class D airport, located inside the Class B airspace of Denver International Airport (DEN). FTG is a high-altitude airfield field located in Watkins, Colorado at a field elevation 5,485’. It has two runways, Runway 8-26 and Runway 17-35 both measuring 8,000’x100’. Both runways are mainly used for GA operations with occasional military use throughout the year. On August 17, 2018, the Colorado Air and Space Port announced the Federal Aviation Administration approved its site operator license at FTG. 5.1.1 Pre-Planning Coordination Coordination for the UAS field demonstration at FTG began with discussing the interest, potential use cases, preliminary flight plans, communications and operational logistics with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Division of Aeronautics, Adams County, FTG airport management and the FTG control tower manager. CDOT’s Aeronautics Division oversees 73 public use airports and 1 sea-plane based airport in the state. FTG is a strong proponent for UAS integration at airports and with the future of Space Port development onsite, were very intrigued about the possibilities and capabilities UAS would bring to the facility. This led to encouraging discussion and succinct coordination and the eventual selection of FTG as the airport for the first field demonstration with a focus on Pavement Management applications. FTG was chosen due to its location, type of air traffic, simplicity, and eagerness to employ UAS solutions. FTG also offered the Booz Allen team an initial opportunity to test UAS operation in a controlled environment. This demonstration allowed a great opportunity to demonstrate, observe, and learn from UAS operations in a controlled towered environment prior to LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) being enabled for the Western South Region 3 which included FTG. 5.1.1.1 Stakeholder and Community Engagement The FTG airport manager, tower manager and field manager were onboard and offered approval of this operation. The subsequent discussions determined that collecting a current condition of the horizontal facilities (runways, taxiways, aprons, parking, public roads, access roads) was the most beneficial and desirable for the airport. Ultimately, a plan to fly both airside and landside facilities was decided upon, given that the team had the permissions and access to the site. It was decided that UAS flight operations would take place over a two-day period and NOTAMs were filed by FTG stating that runway closures were in effect for UAS operations on the days of the demonstration. On day one Runway 8-26 was closed and on day two Runway 17-35 was closed in order to operate on those runways without conflict with other aircraft. During the closure of Runway 17-35 on day two, a perimeter scan of the control tower was conducted. Figure 12 illustrates the flight plan and altitudes necessary to capture an accurate 3D representation of the tower. This allowed FTG to remain open during the demonstration with little impact on incoming and outgoing flight operations.

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   30 Figure 12: Flight plan necessary for data capture of FTG tower Airport personnel, facility personnel, and airport tenants were engaged to understand typical operations on the runway, communications, busiest hours, and logistics of conducting a UAS operation. Important information on when to fly, where to stage the flight crew, how best to mobilize equipment, and develop the communication protocol came from these talks. 5.1.1.2 FAA Engagement FAA Engagement was conducted through the Air Traffic Control Tower personnel and the airport management. The airport manager communicated the desire, purpose, and plan for this demonstration to the FAA. Coordination between the FAA, ATCT, and airport manager ensured the operation was understood by the regulatory and participating parties. 5.1.1.3 Air Traffic Control Engagement Efforts were focused on developing a communication protocols similar to existing airplane pilot-to- tower communications. These protocols were discussed with the airport manager and tower manager and agreed upon prior to the demonstration. The team used NAV/COM handheld aviation radios for all flight operations during the demonstration.

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   31 5.1.1.4 Waiver and Authorization Process This operation would occur in Class D airspace, so a standard part 107.41 authorization was pursued. The details of this waiver were written to reflect the logistics and purpose understood and agreed upon from coordination with the FAA and ATCT personnel. 5.1.2 Flight Planning Flight planning began once the scope of the use cases was solidified through the pre-planning coordination. The Booz Allen team worked with UAS operators at Kimley-Horn to determine the best platforms to accomplish the mission. 5.1.2.1 Establish Mission Parameters The first step was developing the mission parameters and determining the extent of the mission area. A resolution of at least 1.3cm/pixel from the high-resolution cameras for the runway inspection was determined. This resolution suggested an altitude of 60m AGL for the missions to provide the adequate overlap and efficient mission timing. It was also determined that a sample area focused on the A6 taxiway would be flown at 15m. These accuracy levels were needed to assist in the development of feature extraction tools and distress detection technology. A flight plan map was generated to illustrate flight parameters, altitudes of each flight, flight paths, direction of flight, and the number assigned to each flight/mission to facilitate clear communications with the tower. The flight plan map is included in Figure 13. 5.1.2.2 Data Collection Data collection needs were determined by the airport’s desire to obtain high-resolution imagery that could be used to determine pavement conditions. Thus, The Sony R10C was chosen as the sensor Figure 13: Reference grid from FTG demo

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   32 for this demonstration. For the runway inspection, the airport wanted data products in the form of orthomosaics, 3D point clouds, contours, DTMs and 3D models. These deliverables were all stored and delivered in the cloud and were accessed using 3DR Site Scan manager. 5.1.2.3 Communication Protocol The communication protocol for this demonstration was based off the standard procedures for manned aircraft at a towered airport. These follow the self-announcement guidelines found in the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Manual (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). The flight team iterated this communication protocol with the airport manager, the Fixed Base Operator (FBO), and the tower manager. The flight team would make announcements to the control tower on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) 120.2 during the following stages of the missions:  Mission Start  If any new traffic entered the vicinity  Mission End  Anytime flight crew or an operation vehicle crossed the runway Predictive weather was monitored 5 days prior to the operation using a combination of prognostic charts, METAR and TFR information provided by NOAAs Aviation Weather site www.aviationweather.gov. Weather was monitored on the ATIS frequency 119.025 during the days of the operation. 5.1.3 Executing the Operation 5.1.3.1 Pre-flight A thorough pre-flight was conducted by the UAS flight team. A safety briefing was presented to the airport personnel, airport manager, UAS flight team, and FBO. Participants were briefed on:  Flight plan  Deconfliction of manned traffic  Behavior of vehicles when operating on the airport  Communication protocol and important frequencies and phone numbers  Emergency and first aid The flight team then performed an equipment check on the day’s equipment to ensure proper function and all necessary equipment was available and accounted for. 5.1.3.2 Deconfliction Procedure and Return to Home The flight team developed and executed conservative deconfliction and return to home procedures. Class D airspace is one of the most common parts of the airspace system that requires specific radio communications. Although you can operate there without a radio with the prior consent of the tower controller, the general rule is that two-way communications must be established prior to operation in a Class D environment. Talking to a controller is not enough to “establish” communications.

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   33 Even though FTG is a controlled environment, unpredictable operation can occur. The flight team relied on their visual observer’s ability to detect aircraft through sight and sound in addition to any radio calls. If an aircraft announced itself to be in the flight pattern, the UAS flight team would initiate a deconfliction procedure that would promptly land the UAS off the runway and out of any potential obstruction to the manned traffic. In the case of FTG, taxiway A is a shared access taxiway for both runway 8-26 and 17-35. If an aircraft was directed to use taxiway A during operations, the UAS flight team would initiate a deconfliction procedure that would promptly land the UAS away from taxiway A to avoid any conflicts. This was in effect on both days of operation due to the nature of the ground traffic patterns. 5.1.4 Conclusions and Lessons Learned The field demonstration at FTG proved to be an invaluable experience to help shape how UAS operations can be conducted at towered airports. Communication proved paramount. The tower treated the UAS flight team like any other traffic in the airspace. While conducting flight operations at the south end of Runway 17-35 the flight team realized that communications using the handheld radios were not being heard by the tower. This was due to the operational range of the radios and what they called a ‘dead zone’ on the airport property. This was resolved using cell phone communication with the tower, which demonstrated the importance of redundant and robust communications. In using the standard procedures for manned traffic at the towered airport, the flight team found that air traffic in the area was very accommodating to the operation and were willing to yield or make adjustments as necessary. This demonstration is a positive precedent for conducting UAS operations in controlled airspace. 5.2 Johnston Regional Airport This section will cover the UAS field demonstration that was conducted by the Booz Allen team at Johnston Regional Airport (JNX). This section will describe the demonstration details and how it was conducted using the approach provided in Chapter 4. Unique considerations and scenarios to this field demonstration will be called out to help highlight the nuanced decision making and factors that go into conducting UAS operations at an airfield. Johnston Regional Airport is a non-towered Class G airport. It has a single 5,500’ x 100’ runway which sees primarily general aviation aircraft. The demonstration at JNX took place over three days. 5.2.1 Pre-Planning Coordination Coordination for the UAS field demonstration at JNX began with discussing the interest and potential use cases with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). NCDOT’s aviation division oversees over 70 public airports in the state, is a strong proponent for UAS integration at airports, and was chosen by the FAA as a participant in the UAS Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) (North Carolina Airports, 2018). This led to encouraging discussion and succinct coordination and the eventual selection of JNX as the airport for the field demonstration. JNX was chosen due to its modern facilities, simplicity, and eagerness to employ UAS solutions. JNX also offered the Booz Allen team’s first opportunity to test UAS operations in a non-towered environment. Non-towered, Class G airports comprise most public airports in the National Airspace

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   34 System (NAS) and therefore this demonstration provided a great opportunity to demonstrate, observe, and learn from UAS operations in a ubiquitous environment (Air Safety Institute, 2017). 5.2.1.1 Stakeholder and Community Engagement The next step in coordination was to begin discussions with the airport manager. The airport manager was onboard and offered approval of this operation. The subsequent discussions determined which use cases were most beneficial and desirable for the airport. Ultimately, a pavement inspection of the runway and wildlife management use case were chosen. It was decided that the runway would remain open during the pavement inspection and wildlife management use cases. With the understanding of the use cases in place, restricted areas were established to ensure the UAS operations did not intrude on the privacy of the tenants in that area. The Booz Allen team also signed an agreement regarding the use and release of any data collected. This was done to meet the privacy concerns of the airport and the airport’s responsibility to protect the identity of its tenants. Airport personnel, facility personnel, and airport tenants were engaged to understand typical operations on the runway, communications, busiest hours, and logistics of conducting a UAS operation. Important information on when to fly, where to stage the flight crew, how best to mobilize equipment, and how to develop the communication protocol came from these talks. 5.2.1.2 FAA Engagement This initial coordination process was simple due to the choice of a class G airspace. It isn’t necessary to submit an authorization for UAS use in a uncontrolled airspace. This meant FAA engagement was minimal. In the case of an uncontrolled airport the airport manager has final say on UAS operations. This makes it even more prudent that attention is paid to safe flight-planning. 5.2.1.3 Air Traffic Control Engagement Without a tower there was no need for air traffic control engagement. Rather, efforts were focused on developing a communication protocol that was agreed on by the airport manager. 5.2.1.4 Waiver and Authorization Process As mentioned, there was no need to pursue waiver or authorization for the demonstration. This was an uncontrolled airport located in Class G airspace, so it was not subject to the same authorization and waiver process as a Class B, C, D, or E airport. The airport manager was in full approval of these operations and as such the demonstration was conducted legally. 5.2.2 Flight Planning Flight planning began once the scope of the use cases was solidified through the pre-planning coordination. The Booz Allen team worked with UAS operators at PrecisionHawk to determine the best platforms to accomplish the mission. 5.2.2.1 Establish Mission Parameters The first step was developing the mission parameters and determining the extent of the mission area. A resolution of at least 1.3cm/pixel from the high-resolution cameras for the runway

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   35 inspection was determined. This resolution suggested an altitude of 60m AGL for the missions to provide the adequate overlap and efficient mission timing. A reference map was generated to help with the remaining stages of the flight planning. The reference map from this demonstration is included in Figure 14. This map was used to determine what areas were best for the flight team to set up and stage during each step of the pavement inspection and wildlife management use case. 5.2.2.2 Data Collection Data collection needs were determined by the airport’s desire to obtain high-resolution imagery that could be used to determine pavement condition and the ability to detect warm-body wildlife in the tree lines along the airport’s perimeter. Thus, a high-resolution camera and a thermal camera were chosen as the two sensors for this demonstration. For the runway inspection, the airport wanted data products in the form of orthomosaics and 3D models. For the wildlife management use case a proof of concept of the platforms ability to detect and track wildlife in the vicinity was desired. 5.2.2.3 Communication Protocol The communication protocol for this demonstration was based off the standard procedures for manned aircraft at a non-towered airport. These follow the self-announcement guidelines found in the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Manual (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). The flight team iterated this communication protocol with the airport manager and the FBO. The flight team would make announcements on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) during the follow stages of the missions:  Mission Start  If any new traffic entered the vicinity  Mission End Figure 14: Reference grid from JNX demo

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   36  Anytime flight crew or an operation vehicle crossed the runway In addition, weather was monitored on the ATIS frequency throughout the operation. 5.2.3 Executing the Operation 5.2.3.1 Pre-flight A thorough pre-flight was conducted by the UAS flight team. A safety briefing was presented to the airport personnel, airport manager, UAS flight team, and FBO. Participants were briefed on:  Flight plan  Deconfliction of manned traffic  Behavior of vehicles when operating on the airport  Communication protocol and important frequencies and phone numbers  Emergency and first aid The flight team then performed an equipment check on the day’s equipment to ensure proper function and all necessary equipment was available and accounted for. 5.2.3.2 Deconfliction Procedure and Return to Home The flight team developed and executed conservative deconfliction and return to home procedures. Unlike towered airports, pilots at non-towered airports do not need any permission prior to landing or taking off. They are responsible for announcing their own intentions at any time. This can lead to a much less predictable environment around the airport as pilots may fail to report their position or report at irregular times. To combat the unpredictable operations of the airport the flight team relied on their ability to detect aircraft through sight and sound in addition to any radio calls. If an aircraft announced itself to be in the flight pattern, the UAS flight team would initiate a deconfliction procedure that would promptly land the UAS off the runway and out of any potential obstruction to the manned traffic. 5.2.4 Conclusions and Lessons Learned The field demonstration at JNX proved to be an invaluable experience to help shape how UAS operations can be conducted at non-towered airports. The wildlife management test was successful, proving that heat signatures in the nearby forest could be detected at varying altitudes and distances relative to the runway. Communication proved paramount. Without air traffic control to keep aircraft separated the UAS flight team had to work together with local manned traffic to deconflict, reduce risk, and maintain a safe airspace. Several occasions led to manned traffic communicating directly to the UAS flight team to help assist them to accomplish their mission and provide them ample time to land their UAS and ensure both parties were safe. 5.3 Sebring Regional Airport This section will cover the UAS field demonstration that was conducted by the Booz Allen team at Sebring Regional Airport (SEF). This section will describe the demonstration details and how it was conducted using the approach provided in Chapter 4. Unique considerations and scenarios to this

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   37 field demonstration will be called out to help highlight the nuanced decision making and factors that go into conducting UAS operations at an airfield. Sebring Regional Airport is a non-towered Class G airport. However, for special events it does operate a tower to dictate operations. For this UAS operation it operated as non-towered. It has two runways. Runway 1-19 is 5234’x’100 and Runway 14-32 is 4990’x100’. SEF sees primarily general aviation traffic with occasional commercial and military. The demonstration at SEF took place over two days. 5.3.1 Pre-Planning Coordination Coordination for the UAS field demonstration at SEF began with discussing the interest and potential use cases with SEF’s airport manager. Sebring Regional Airport had already been identified as a potential location for a UAS demonstration by a member of the ACRP 03-42 research team. Sebring Regional Airport hosts drone racing and UAS conventions so its willingness and inclination towards UAS was already apparent. While the research project had identified many airport’s as partners, SEF was chosen due to its unique facilities, expected use cases, and eagerness to employ UAS solutions. SEF was originally built as a training base for the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940 and it’s operated as a public airfield since 1946. The airfield has remnants of WW2-era infrastructure and due to this offered a prime opportunity to use UAS to assist with facility and pavement inspection. SEF also offered the Booz Allen team’s first opportunity to test multiple UAS operations in the same airspace. 5.3.1.1 Stakeholder and Community Engagement Initial discussions with the airport manager identified which use cases were most beneficial and desirable for the airport. As mentioned previously the airport is managing its WW2-era infrastructure and is looking for ways to understand and inventory the condition of its facilities. To best understand which areas were most important, the Booz Allen team engaged with the facilities manager. These discussions helped pinpoint what locations on the airfield they were having the most trouble understanding, and which were of most importance for them to replace or address. Ultimately, a pavement inspection of runway 14-31, inspection of a drainage canal along the airport property, hangar inspection, and a security/emergency response use case were chosen. It was decided that the runway would remain open during all operations. A unique aspect of SEF is the racetrack that is adjoined to the airfield. Renowned internationally for its endurance races, the racetrack is a major tenant at the airport. Restricted areas were established to ensure the UAS operations did not intrude on the privacy of the racetrack and its personnel. The Booz Allen team also signed an agreement regarding the use and release of any data collected. This was done to meet the privacy concerns of the airport and the airport’s responsibility to protect the identity of its tenants. Airport personnel, facility personnel, and airport tenants were engaged to understand typical operations on the runway, communications, busiest hours, and logistics of conducting a UAS operation. Important information on when to fly, where to stage the flight crew, how best to mobilize equipment, and how to develop the communication protocol came from these talks. As well, a staging area was determined and access to on-field facility was allowed for the flight teams to store their equipment.

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   38 5.3.1.2 FAA Engagement This initial coordination process was simple due to the choice of a class G airspace. It wasn’t necessary to submit an airspace authorization because the airspace was not controlled airspace. This meant FAA engagement was minimal. In the case of an uncontrolled airport, the airport manager has the authority to grant or deny UAS operations at the airport within the nondiscrimination limits of Grant Assurance 22a. This makes it even more prudent that attention is paid to safe flight- planning. 5.3.1.3 Air Traffic Control Engagement Without a tower there was no need for air traffic control engagement. Rather, efforts were focused on developing a communication protocol that was agreed on by the airport manager. As well, weather was monitored on the ATIS frequency throughout the operation 5.3.1.4 Waiver and Authorization Process As mentioned, there was no need to pursue an airspace waiver or an airspace authorization for the demonstration. This was an uncontrolled airport, so it was not subject to the same authorization and waiver process as a Class B, C, D, or E airport. The airport manager was in full approval of these operations and as such the demonstration was conducted legally. The operation was conducted at night as part of the security/emergency response use case. In this case, the UAS operator had previously obtained their night waiver which allowed them to operate at night in class G airspace (Federal Aviation Administration, 2018). 5.3.2 Flight Planning Flight planning began once the scope of the use cases was solidified through the pre-planning coordination. The Booz Allen team worked with UAS operators at PrecisionHawk, Sensurion, and Florida Institute of Technology to determine the best platforms and coordination to accomplish the missions. Given that multiple UAS would be flying at a time, the flight planning stage was critical. Extra care was taken to coordinate between the pilots and make sure each understood where they would be and where other pilots would be flying UAS. Meetings were held with any operators that would be flying at the same time. These meetings discussed the mission parameters and the plan to communicate with each other as well as the local traffic. 5.3.2.1 Establish Mission Parameters The first day of operations focused on the runway and drainage canal inspections. A LiDAR platform was chosen for this day of operations. Mission parameters were then established based on the identified data needs and compliance with local traffic and airport requests. The UAS flight team would fly 15-minute missions over runway 14-31 while no traffic was in the pattern. These missions were performed at 60m AGL. Once these missions were complete the flight team mobilized to the north side of the airport where the drainage canal was located.  

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   39 Figure 15: Drainage canal mission area at SEF The drainage canal runs along the north perimeter of the airport away from approach and departure ends of the runways as highlighted in Figure 15Figure 15. This allowed the flight team more lenience when performing their missions. Mission times were based off the battery limitations. These missions were flown uninterrupted by local traffic as they were performed away from the pattern. The team performed a 30-minute emergency response demonstration using Sensurion’s Sentinel tethered drone platform as seen in Figure 16. This mission was performed after dusk and took place a single point on the airport apron at altitude of 10m, 20m, and 50m. The purpose was to demonstrate the ability of a tethered platform to provide a mobile source of illumination to help aid emergency crews or aid in security. On the second day of operations, the team flew missions to inspect a hangar and performed an inspection of the midfield grass to help the airport identify and inventory the sinkholes plaguing the airport. These missions were flown with the input of the field Figure 16: Sentinel drone demonstration

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   40 maintenance personnel at the airport. Mission parameters were determined based on their input and priorities. Four mission areas were established, and each was flown as a single mission. These mission areas are highlighted in Figure 17. The hangar inspection and midfield inspection missions were flown concurrently. This allowed the team the opportunity to demonstrate successful coordination of multiple UAS operators at once. 5.3.2.2 Data Collection Data collection needs were determined by the airport’s desire to obtain detailed 3D mapping of the airport’s infrastructure. LiDAR was chosen by the operators and research team to demonstrate its capabilities and utility for airports. Flights were flown at 60m to obtain the desired resolution while still offering efficient mission times and versatility. Data collection yielded .las files that can be used to create a point cloud, elevation map, or 3D map of the collection area. 5.3.2.3 Communication Protocol The communication protocol for this demonstration was based off the standard procedures for manned aircraft at a non-towered airport. These follow the self-announcement guidelines found in the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Manual (Federal Aviation Administration, 2017). The flight team iterated this communication protocol with the airport manager and the FBO. The flight team would make announcements on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) during the follow stages of the missions:  Mission Start  If any new traffic entered the vicinity  Mission End  Anytime flight crew or an operation vehicle crossed the runway In addition, weather was monitored on the ATIS frequency throughout the operation. A unique aspect of the SEF demonstration was the need to develop a protocol that would allow the multiple operators to effectively communicate. To do this, the flight team would coordinate with each other on a separate frequency or by cellphone during the above stages of each mission. Figure 17: Midfield inspection areas

Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators   41 5.3.3 Executing the Operation 5.3.3.1 Pre-flight A thorough pre-flight was conducted by the UAS flight team. A safety briefing was presented to the airport personnel, airport manager, UAS flight team, and FBO. Participants were briefed on:  Flight plan  Deconfliction of manned traffic  Behavior of vehicles when operating on the airport  Communication protocol and important frequencies and phone numbers  Emergency and first aid The flight team then performed an equipment check on the day’s equipment to ensure proper function and all necessary equipment was available and accounted for. 5.3.3.2 Deconfliction Procedure and Return to Home Given the similar manned traffic operations to JNX the deconfliction and return to home procedures for SEF were developed with the previous demonstrations’ success in mind. The flight team developed and executed conservative deconfliction and return to home procedures. Unlike towered airports, pilots at non-towered airports do not need any permission prior to landing or taking off are responsible for announcing their own intentions at any time. This can lead to a much less predictable environment around the airport as pilots may fail to report their position or report at irregular times. To combat the unpredictable operations of the airport the flight team relied on their ability to detect aircraft through sight and sound in addition to any radio calls. If an aircraft announced itself to be in the flight pattern, the UAS flight team would initiate a deconfliction procedure that would promptly land the UAS off the runway and out of any potential obstruction to the manned traffic. 5.3.4 Conclusions and Lessons Learned The field demonstration at SEF offered experience to better understand how to effectively coordinate with UAS operators and airport personnel to determine the most effective and efficient uses of UAS for the airport. The objectives of these operations; canal inspection, runway inspection, sinkhole survey, and lighting systems; exemplify the diversity of potential uses for UAS at airports. This experience also provided new knowledge by establishing communications and a safe environment for multiple concurrent UAS missions. The consecutive success of multiple types of missions without conflict with manned aircraft or other unexpected events supports the planning process that was used.  

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Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators Get This Book
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Introduction of unmanned aircraft systems (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 pre-publication draft of ACRP (Airport Cooperative Research Program) Research Report 212: Airports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Volume 3: Potential Use of UAS by Airport Operators 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.

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 2: Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure—Planning Guidebook provides planning, operational, and infrastructure guidance to safely integrate existing and anticipated UAS operations into an airport environment.

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