Synthesis Topics

Aircraft Characteristic Database

The objective of this research is to create a guidebook of Aircraft Characteristics. The first step is a synthesis that summarizes the data sources available for determining Aircraft Characteristics for airport planning, design, construction, and operation. The characteristics would include at a minimum Aircraft Approach Category (AAC), Airplane Design Group (ADG), Taxiway Design Group (TDG), wingspan, tail height, length, Max Takeoff Weight (MTOW), main gear spacing, cockpit to main gear spacing and approach speed. Once the synthesis identifies all of the sources of aircraft data, the next step is a creating guidebook or online database of Aircraft Characteristics that could be periodically updated as additional information becomes available.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

FAA Joint Order 7360.1 – Aircraft Type Designators lists approximately 1,900 unique aircraft and several of their characteristics including Class, Engine Number and Type, Weight Class, ICAO Wake Turbulence Category (WTC), Wake Categories, Same Runway Separation (SRS) and Land and Hold Short Operations (LAHSO) Groups. Unfortunately, none of the characteristics provided in JO 7360.1 are the aircraft characteristics required in AC 150/5300-13 for airport design but the order does provide a listing of common aircraft.

There are currently two main sources of data available from the FAA for Aircraft Characteristics and several sources of data available from private companies. The two FAA sources include Appendix 1 in AC 150/5300-13 and the Aircraft Characteristics database available for download from the FAA website at www.faa.gov/airports/engineering/aircraft_char_database/. In the last year, the FAA has been working to update the Aircraft Characteristics database. The FAA Aircraft Characteristics database contains a listing of 1,346 (70% of the aircraft in JO 7360.1). This database is by far the most complete of any source available but the level of information for each aircraft varies and much is unverified. As an example, 833 aircraft are missing their AAC, 583 are missing their TDG, and 741 are missing their approach speed.

Appendix 1 from AC 150/5300-13 contains information on approximately 120 aircraft (less than 7% of those identified in JO 7360.1). The information includes the AAC, ADG, TDG, wingspan, tail height, length, Max Takeoff Weight (MTOW), main gear spacing (MGW), cockpit to main gear spacing (CMG) and approach speed. Appendix 1 does not contain all of the required characteristics for each of the 120 aircraft. Many aircraft are missing certain characteristics; most commonly approach speed or landing gear information. As an example, the Gulfstream G650 is missing information for CMG, Wheelbase, MGW and Approach Speed.

In addition to the information provided by the FAA, additional data is also available from private companies. One of these companies, Transoft, provides several software products (AviPlan and Aircraft Data Viewer) which include information on approximately 450 aircraft (less than 25% of the aircraft identified in JO 7360.1). Aircraft Data Viewer provides the majority of aircraft characteristics with the exception of Approach Speed. Burns & McDonnell publishes an Aircraft Characteristics Manual with data on 142 aircraft (less than 8% of aircraft identified in JO 7360.1) and also maintains an online database with limited access. Several aircraft manufacturers also provide data on their aircraft including Airbus and Boeing. Though the information in the manuals is useful, some of the manuals are more than 500 pages in length and do not contain all of the required characteristics for airport design. Lastly, Wikipedia and airliners.net also have unverified information on many aircraft.

Considering JO 7360.1 contains 1,900 of the most common aircraft, the most robust source of aircraft data contains the limited characteristics of approximately 70% of these aircraft. The characteristics of the design aircraft have a significant influence on the physical layout and clearing requirements at an airfield. The characteristics of an aircraft drive everything from runway and taxiway pavement width to runway to parallel taxiway separation. Considering the impact and cost of upgrading an airport to meet the requirements of a new critical aircraft, it is imperative the characteristics of the critical aircraft are readily available. Many decisions are currently being made with incomplete information. In addition, airports routinely receive requests from transient aircraft who wish to use their facility. A single reference to the characteristics of the most common aircraft would help an airport manager, operations personnel, or air traffic controller quickly evaluate whether their facilities can accommodate a specific aircraft.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The objective of this research is to create a guidebook of Aircraft Characteristics. The first step is a synthesis that summarizes the data sources available for determining Aircraft Characteristics for airport planning, design, construction, and operation. The characteristics would include at a minimum Aircraft Approach Category (AAC), Airplane Design Group (ADG), Taxiway Design Group (TDG), wingspan, tail height, length, Max Takeoff Weight (MTOW), main gear spacing, cockpit to main gear spacing and approach speed. Once the synthesis identifies all of the sources of aircraft data, the next step is a creating guidebook or online database of Aircraft Characteristics that could be periodically updated as additional information becomes available.

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Idea No. 122