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60 C H A P T E R 5 To learn from the UAS experiences of airports, contractors, tenants, and state DOTs, this chapter presents case examples, which highlight specific uses. Sixteen case examples are pro- vided, representing seven airports, two contractors, two tenants, and five state DOTs. These case examples are by no means intended to reflect the sum total of unique examples of UAS integra- tion at airports and state DOTs. Table 4 presents a listing of the case examples. Case Example 1: Centennial Airport Centennial Airport, Englewood, Colorado, has two staff who are FAA remote pilots, in com- pliance with 14 C.F.R. Part 107. These staff act as pilot and observer on all UAS operations. To ensure safe operations, the airport has created a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the FAA and the Airport Authority. The MOU outlines procedures and safeguards that will be in place prior to any UAS operation on airport. Before each non-emergency flight, the airport officially requests FAA approval of the flight area through the AirMap app/FAA LAANC system. The airport then briefs the on-duty controllers in the tower. During the mission, the operator utilizes the call sign âCyclops One,â and actively monitors the tower frequency to ensure that there are no traffic conflicts. The airport uses several DJI UAs and have been able to work with the manufacturer to unlock the GPS restrictions on the equipment for several months at a time (M. Fronapfel, personal communication, December 28, 2018). The airport uses the UAS to conduct aerial monitoring and documenting of emergency response training drills, airfield mowing, and construction operations. The airport has also taken several aerial videos and pictures of the airfield, ATCT, hangars, buildings, and ponds. Ever in a state of innovation, the airport is in the process of testing and programming the UAS to assist with docu- menting monthly inspections of storm water detention ponds and infrastructure. In the future, the airport hopes to utilize the UAS for 3-D surveys that can then be added to the airportâs GIS database. Although the airport has not received requests from tenants or contractors to operate UAS on airport, if such a request was received, these operators would need to be under the direct supervision of the airportâs Part 107 certified staff and would have to follow all the procedures and safeguards outlined in the MOU with the FAA ATCT. Case Example 2: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Dallas, Texas, is one of several U.S. airports that have been evaluating a UAS detection application. With the unit installed on top of the airport hotel, it has a 50-km range. Although the system being evaluated is designed to detect UAS manufactured by only one manufacturer, airport staff feel it has been effective. In fact, the Case Examples
Case Examples 61 system detects 200â250 UAS flights per day on average, with only a handful of these representing a conflict for DFW traffic. According to the vice president (VP) of Operations at DFW, âFor the most part, all UAS operators are playing by the rules.â Any conflicts have been managed well by the ATCT. The VP of Operations indicated that once this or other detection systems are certified by the FAA, the airport will likely pursue acquisition of a system. Additionally, the airport has a blanket COA to cover all UAS operations on airport property, some 17,000 acres. The airport has developed a letter of authorization (LOA) with the ATCT to ensure safety of operations and proper coordination, including lost-communications procedures. UAS are currently used on airport in support of police and fire, including sUA on tether to provide visual video feed of an emergency exercise to the incident command center. UAS also support airport development and construction with aerial video of airside and landside construction projects. Airport staff responsible for operating the UAS are Part 107 remote pilots. Case Example 3: Grand Forks International Airport Grand Forks International Airport, governed by the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority Grand Forks, North Dakota, hosts a significant amount of flight training activity, courtesy of the University of North Dakotaâs Aerospace program. Because of the airportâs geographic location, it also hosts a significant amount of wildlife in the local area. The airport is surrounded by farms and 1,300 acres of wastewater treatment ponds. These features attract thousands of gulls, ducks, and geese each year. One study conducted during migration counted 13,000 to 16,000 birds in one night. In an innovative approach to the bird problem, Grand Forks worked with a contrac- tor to bring in âRobird,â an unmanned peregrine falcon look-alike. The wing-flapping UAS has been quite effective at mitigating the bird problem. The Robird has reduced both the number of bird strikes and the number of birds near the airport. In fact, the number of birds in the area Case Example Organization Location Entity Type 1 Centennial Airport Englewood, Colorado Airport 2 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas Airport 3 Grand Forks International Airport Grand Forks, North Dakota Airport 4 Samuels Field Bardstown, Kentucky Airport 5 San Carlos Airport San Carlos, California Airport 6 Southern Illinois Airport Murphysboro, Illinois Airport 7 Southwest Florida International Airport Fort Myers, Florida Airport 8 Atkins Atlanta, Georgia Contractor 9 Michael Baker International Atlanta, Georgia Contractor 10 FedEx Express Memphis, Tennessee Tenant 11 New York Air National Guard Syracuse, New York Tenant 12 Iowa DOT Ames, Iowa State DOT 13 Michigan DOT Lansing, Michigan State DOT 14 North Carolina DOT Raleigh, North Carolina State DOT 15 Ohio DOT Columbus, Ohio State DOT 16 South Carolina DOT West Columbia, South Carolina State DOT Table 4. Case examples.
62 Current Landscape of Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Airports has dropped to around 200. By disguising UA as a natural predator, yet another application of UAS has been realized, and to the benefit of the airport and student pilots alike (Miller 2018). Case Example 4: Samuels Field Samuels Field in Bardstown, Kentucky, is a municipal airport governed by the Bardstown- Nelson County Air Board. The current chair is a former Army helicopter pilot and former air traffic controller. He just happens to be an FAA remote pilot as well. According to the chair, âIâm open to anything [related to UAs] that looks interestingâ (J. Roche, personal communication, January 11, 2019). Although he claims they are âstill dipping their toes in the waterâ of UA, by all accounts, this airport is quite active in this area. First, seeing demand for the education of future UA pilots, he founded a UA training school. This school holds Part 107 training at airports across the state. A significant aspect of this school is a âTrain-the-Trainerâ program catering to public fire departments in the state. Next, he partners with the University of Kentuckyâs Department of Engineering to teach UAS topics, funded in part by a NASA grant for the universityâs UAS Research Consortium. He also provides senior students in need of a senior project the envi- ronment in which to utilize UAS for those projects. Past student projects have included use of UA for perimeter inspections, inspections of airfield lighting, and wildlife mitigation. Potential future projects include locating wildlife (such as deer) that have breached the perimeter fence, inspecting for obstructions in the approach areas, and verifying PAPI light calibration. Case Example 5: San Carlos Airport The airport manager of San Carlos Airport, located 2 miles outside of San Carlos, in San Mateo, California, has been a strong promoter of UAS. Although he has not operated UAS on airport, he is an active FAA remote pilot and sees great value in educating the community on the benefits of UAS. For example, the San Carlos Airport has a museum with a UA program geared to young students. Their âUA Zoneâ program is designed to introduce students to the practical application of UAS. After students learn about the technology and build their UA, they have the opportunity to fly them indoors in a UA cage. The airport also has a UA cage outside during Airport Day, and this feature is always one of the most popular with attendees. According to the airport manager, âItâs been very successful in getting young kids interested in aviation and learning about science and technology.â Furthermore, to those airports hesitant to accept UAS operations, he shares, âI say to those who take an aggressive âno UAâ stance that an approach of education and teaching owners and operators of the technology and how to use it safety will always be a better approachâ (C. St. Peter, personal communication, January 17, 2019). Case Example 6: Southern Illinois Airport The Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro was one of the first airports in the United States to obtain COAs for operating UAS on the airport grounds. With such a proactive stance on UAS, the airport has been able to document numerous events, projects, and impacts to the airfield and surrounding areas via UAS. For example, the airport utilized UAS to document environmental and facility damage related to the May 2017 flooding of the Big Muddy River. The airport has also utilized UAS to assist the Jackson County Sheriff âs department in searches. The early integration of UAS technology has enabled the airport to document countless special projects both on the field and outside the fence. By using real-time photos, the airport is able to visually inform tenants of potential and real impacts related to ongoing and upcoming con- struction projects and events. A significant community outreach event that proved very popular was the documentation of the 2017 solar eclipse. The UAS-enabled high-definition video of
Case Examples 63 the actual solar totality serves as one example of the âfunâ and usefulness of UAS at airports (P. McDonald, personal communication, January 9, 2019). Case Example 7: Southwest Florida International Airport The Southwest Florida International Airport, located in Fort Myers, is not necessarily as active in UAS use as are other airports. However, this airport, in recognizing the unique vantage point that UAS provide, did use UAS on the design and siting of a new ATCT at the airport. To provide real-time sighting and obstruction clearing requirements for the design of the new ATCT, the UA was hovered at the average eye-level line of sight of the future tower controllers (approximately 212 feet). This video provided designers, FAA, and airport staff, with an accu- rate, realistic view of what air traffic controllers might see from the new tower cab. This unique use of UAS aided the design of the new ATCT with a vantage point not otherwise possible (G. Duncan, personal communication, January 7, 2019). Case Example 8: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) partnered with several contractorsâ the engineering firm Atkins, the drone solution provider 3DR, and the software provider Autodeskâto use UAS to capture data enabling the creation of orthomosaics and 3-D point clouds. These models were used by Atkins to plan the demolition process and coordinate operations during construction, which minimized the projectâs impact on airport operations. Additionally, the 3-D point clouds served as the basis for preliminary design work on the new facility. To obtain approval for UAS operations in Class B airspace, the LAANC system was used. The airport, aided by the contractor, was able to demonstrate to the FAA that UAS operations between runways could be performed safely using Site Scan, 3DRâs autonomous aerial data capture platform. Case Example 9: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport For another project, ATL worked with Michael Baker International to utilize UAS to conduct extensive pavement evaluation. Rather than requiring more than 4 hours to manually photo- graph the physical condition of pavement, the contractor used UAS to collect more detailed information in less than half the time. The contractor obtained FAA approval for UAS opera- tions in Class B airspace. The FAA waiver had a 4-month duration and allowed UAS operations only during west-flow operations, a closed runway, and two-day radio contact with ATCT. The UAS allowed the team to âgenerate contours, orthomosaic imagery, RGB 3-D textured mesh and a digital terrain model (DTM),â which was then analyzed to help determine future pavement needs (Michael Baker International 2017). Case Example 10: Memphis International Airport Selected as one of the participants in the FAA UAS Integration Pilot program, along with partner FedEx, the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority UAS support FedEx with the inspection of FedEx aircraft on, and security monitoring of, the FedEx ramp during day and night operations. Additionally, the airport is utilizing UAS for inspection of the perimeter security fence and intruder alarm resolution. Through the Memphis Agricenter International, advanced UAS operations including simulated runway and perimeter security inspections are beta-tested prior
64 Current Landscape of Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Airports to âgoing liveâ in the airport environment. As of August 2018, 43 successful UA flights had been conducted totaling 5.7 flight hours. Thirty of these flights were in support of security surveillance, while 13 were related to aircraft inspection. According to the airport, âThese flights were part of the first phase of development in low risk areas to help develop operational procedures, assess potential impacts, develop airport and team member communication protocols, and determine the operational reliability of small UAs that could be used on the Memphis International Airport (MEM) airfieldâ (Memphis International Airport 2019). More information on the program at Memphis International Airport may be found at http://www.flymemphis.com/UAs. Case Example 11: Syracuse Hancock International Airport Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Onondaga County, New York, is a joint-use facility with the Air National Guard 174th Attack Wing. Historically operators of F16s, the 174th Attack Wing transitioned several years ago to operating the MQ9 Reaper UAS, manufactured by Gen- eral Atomics. At Syracuse, operations of the MQ9 have been safely integrated with commercial air carrier operations. As the Syracuse executive director explained, âWe want to support what they are doingâ (C. Callahan, personal communication, December 3, 2018). The airport has adopted a single number of MQ9 flights per day. Although the airport operator does not cur- rently use UAS for airport purposes, the executive director is thinking forward to adopting UAS for monitoring wildlife, making weather measurements, monitoring snow removal activities, and performing pavement assessments. For airports considering adopting UAS, the executive director suggests the following considerations: â¢ Types of missions UAS could be used for at your airport, â¢ Ways to enhance efficiencies, including saving time and money, and â¢ How you will plan to work through various issues with FAA and ATC? Case Example 12: Iowa Department of Transportation The Iowa DOT has been using UAS for several years to support survey work on public road- ways. The Office of Aviation was awaiting Part 107, and once it was issued, began UAS opera- tions in August 2016. The Office of Aviation is currently using UAS to perform asset inventory at the stateâs 108 public-use, publicly owned airports. This process involves recording assets via aerial photos. The Office of Aviation is also using UAS to take photos at private heliports for the purpose of uploading the photos on their website. According to the planning and outreach manager of the Iowa DOT Office of Aviation, âThe majority of Iowa airports are in uncontrolled airspace, and with Part 107, there are very few issues with UAS use at these airports. How- ever, at controlled airports, such as Des Moines, an FAA Part 107 waiver has been obtainedâ (T. McClung, personal communication, December 18, 2018). Filing these waivers has âforced us to clarify our purpose.â The Office of Aviation made a strategic decision early on to consider the UAS program yet another tool in the toolbox, rather than a separate UAS program. This has allowed useful integration of UAS into their existing operations, made even more possible by the 100% FAA-certified pilot staff and 50% FAA-certified remote pilot staff of the Office of Aviation. Case Example 13: Michigan Department of Transportation In the state of Michigan, a governor-created UAS Task Force has stimulated integration of UAS technology throughout the state. Initially adopted by the Michigan DOT to conduct bridge and pavement inspections, UAS are also now being utilized by the Michigan DOT Division
Case Examples 65 of Aeronautics, mainly to supplement airport inspections. Additionally, UAS are being used to perform airspace obstruction evaluations and collect images and video for marketing and communication purposes. According to the Michigan DOT Aeronautics, âOur program is in its infancy, but we hope to grow it considerablyâ (B. Budds, personal communication, January 8, 2019). The benefits realized are more significant than anticipated, leading the Aeronautics Division to consider numerous other missions for their UAS at airports across the state. Next on the agenda is developing an overall Michigan DOT UAS policy. Michigan DOT also owns and operates seven airports, which may serve as a test bed for innovative UAS missions that will eventually aid the work of the Aeronautics Division statewide. Case Example 14: North Carolina Department of Transportation The North Carolina DOT Division of Aviation is active with the integration of UAS into the nationâs airspace. It has developed a statewide UAS policy and operates a knowledge test and permitting system for commercial and government UAS operators. The North Carolina DOT is also participating in the FAAâs UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP). Through the IPP, the North Carolina DOT, in partnership with a regional health network, has conducted the nationâs first medical package drone delivery demonstration flight over people. In addition to conducting routine flights for pay beginning in early 2019, the DOT plans to pilot local pack- age delivery and infrastructure inspection of state transportation assets, such as roads, bridges, dams, and waterways. With their UAS experiences and knowledge, the DOT was able to coor- dinate a statewide drone response during Hurricane Florence in September 2018. The DOTâs 15 drone teams conducted 280 damage assessment missions over one-third of the state and captured 8,000 pictures and videos of flooded roadways and towns, road and bridge washouts, eroded beaches, ferry terminals, and airports. Its live streaming of images to state and emer- gency responders demonstrated the enormous benefit of drones for quickly communicating conditions to the public during disasters, monitoring evacuation routes and traffic conditions, and pushing real-time information to inform decision making by government agencies, utility companies, military units, and the public. The DOT is currently working to integrate drones across the department for varied uses including bridge inspections, landslide investigations, ero- sion monitoring, invasive species pesticide spraying, and endangered species surveys. The DOT currently operates over 30 UAS and is training and certifying operators who can be positioned across divisions and the state to support North Carolina DOT operations. The DOT tests airport drone use cases from its Aviation Division offices at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, a fertile testing ground for demonstrating how UAS can enhance airport security, inspections, and other operations. Meanwhile, the departmentâs education and outreach workshops, social media campaigns, and annual North Carolina Drone Summit and Flight Expo are raising public awareness and acceptance of drones and promoting the business opportunities to strategically grow the stateâs economy (D. Divakaran, personal communication, March 20, 2019). Case Example 15: Ohio Department of Transportation The Ohio DOT Office of Aviation, through their Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, serves as the lead agency for UAS statewide. The state of Indiana is also served by the UAS Center, as the Center is a joint initiative, capitalizing on both statesâ resource base of facilities, research, and industry. The UAS Center is active in two areas: (a) operations, performing all UAS operations for the DOT as well as for other state agencies; and (b) Fly, focused on enabling UAS use for data collection, package delivery, and eventually, VTOL passenger movement. To date, the most visible initiative of the UAS Center has been the SkyVision system. Serving as Ohioâs ground-based DAA system, SkyVision (based at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport)
66 Current Landscape of Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Airports utilizes three independent FAA radar sites to enable safe UAS operations. The intent of SkyVision is to provide users a path to test operations based on performance-based standards in support of advanced missions, including (a) night, (b) over humans, and/or (c) BVLOS. SkyVision is enabling additional uses of low-altitude airspace, to include autonomous operations. The UAS Center envisions a future with new modes of aerial transportation, and this is safely enabled via the SkyVision system. Case Example 16: South Carolina Department of Transportation The South Carolina DOT, with 58 publicly owned, public-use airports, currently uses UAS for various purposes. The South Carolina Aeronautics Commission began seeing the usefulness of UAS in 2013. Through attending an AUVSI trade show in early 2014, staff began contemplating how UAS could be integrated within the statewide airport inspection program. In late 2014, the UAS was purchased. Eleven months later, the first COA was approved. In all, the Aeronautics Commission holds 11 different COAs covering all airports within the state. The UAS are being used to fly runway approaches to measure obstacles in the approach path. With 3-D modeling, this effort is valued by airport managers, consultants, and neighbors. According to the Execu- tive Director of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, âAirport managers love it because they get good information on what their approaches look likeâ (J. Stephens, personal com- munication, December 20, 2018). He confirmed that multiple stakeholders benefit. âThe UAS helped us tell stories. It serves as a visual model and allows us to identify obstacles that need to be addressed more clearlyâ (J. Stephens, personal communication, December 20, 2018). By late 2018, obstacle analysis had been completed at half of the stateâs airports. Although the UAS has greatly enhanced the accuracy of obstacle analysis in the approach areas, it is not without challenges. For example, to ensure accuracy in 3-D modeling, the flights must be conducted with leaves on the trees because 3-D modeling is difficult with bare branches. Lidar would allow for all-season flights, but this comes at an expense. Additionally, their staff are not licensed surveyors or photogrammetry professionals; thus, no official stamp may be placed on the UAS products. Even so, the staff has had their work validated by a licensed surveyor, and the accuracy of the UAS products were âspot-on.â