Research Projects

Airport APM Virus-Proofing – From Planning through Operations & Maintenance "

Update and supplement ACRP Guidebooks 37 and 37A in terms of active airport APM systems (since the publication of those guidebooks in 2010) and incorporate best practices related to planning for, minimizing, and responding to viruses within the general context of the airport APM planning and implementation (Report 37) and airport APM operations and maintenance (Report 37A).

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

Background: Similar to how terrorism threat levels affect airport operations, airports will need to be able to operate effectively during varying virus threat levels. While of immediate interest, COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic crisis. Varying levels of social distancing and cleansing requirements will be integral to operating safely during a crisis. These conditions will affect the amount of space needed in waiting areas, queuing line-ups, circulation corridors, and on conveyance systems. One of the most challenging areas will be on APM systems. These major investments are critical to airport operations and they have the typical characteristics of high volumes of people in limited space. Planning, operations and maintenance of APM systems that incorporates the best practices of virus-proofing these mobility systems will allow airports to provide the safest possible experience for both passengers and employees.

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

Research is needed to help airport operators understand how they can safely and effectively operate APM systems and the implications of varying "virus threat levels" on space needs and capacity throughput. Implications include: 1) effects on long-term planning considerations, 2) operational capacities and critical points (bottlenecks) at varying virus threat levels, 3) technologies and practices that can be used to implement and enforce social distancing guidelines on platforms, vehicles, and vertical circulation elements, 4) maintenance technologies and best practices that can be used to maximize safety while minimizing operational costs, and 5) potential changes to consider in APM procurement documents and O&M contracts to support best practices and technologies needed for safe and cost effective operation.

The desired product would help the airport industry in planning for the safest transport of the future and help the industry in responding most efficiently and safely to future potential pandemics.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

The steps needed to develop such an updated guidebook(s) are as follow:

1) Research and interviews about:

a. Determining if there will be permanent changes to passenger expectations and/or space/passenger requirements.

b. How temporary restrictions should affect considerations in long-term planning (sensitivity/failure management-type analyses to understand how the system can perform under varying virus threat levels.

2) Development of a methodology for assessing the APM system elements at various virus and other infectious disease threat levels and how to integrate that into planning and operations

3) Research on:

a. Best practices for using personnel to monitor and manage passenger densities on the various APM system elements (vehicles, platforms, escalators, elevators).

b. Technologies that can be used to automatically monitor, assess and alert operators (using artificial intelligence) of passenger densities on platforms, vehicles, and vertical circulation.

c. Technologies to help distribute passengers evenly, and with suitable separation on APM vehicles and related facilities.

4) Research on Virus proofing APM operations and maintenance

a. Benchmarking and establishing standards for regular, in-service cleaning and disinfecting of interiors (end stations or off-line locations), including the in-service monitoring and replacement of filters and other sanitizing equipment,

b. Adjusting end station dwell times or in-service fleet sizes for vehicle changeout at terminuses to accommodate sanitizing periods,

c. Issuing and storing virus-related PPE as needed to a minimum level for operations staff, and

d. Updating System Safety and Security Program Plans in consideration of operations and maintenance contingency planning for viruses that significantly affect the O&M workforce;

e. Virus proofing APM maintenance facilities and activities

i. Requiring OMSF and OCC designs to allow for potential passenger distancing,

ii. Adding mandatory disinfecting procedures to vehicle and building interior cleaning,

iii. Adding requirements for emergency passenger isolation procedures and other outbreak related SOPs, as required by airport staff or the AHJ, and

iv. Providing virus testing where and if practical.

5) Research resulting in recommendations for content to be considered for adding to APM procurement documents and O&M contracts

a. Virus proofing APM vehicle and station design,

b. Virus proofing APM testing/commissioning by adding personal protection protocol requirements and providing PPE and sanitizing stations where appropriate, and

c. Elements to address items identified in Task 4 above

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

The estimated cost of updating the ACRP Reports 37 & 37A would total $523,500 and take between 16 and 20 months to complete. There is no airline travel assumed in these costs. In person attendance of meetings with ACRP staff are assumed to be performed by Lea+Elliott staff located in the Washington, DC area.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

Related ACRP Reports include 37 Guidebook for Planning and Implementing Automated People Mover Systems at Airports and 37A Guidebook for Measuring Performance of Automated People Mover Systems at Airports. Other industry research APTA guidelines and individual public transit properties best practices will have gaps related to application to automated systems and the airport environment (passengers traveling in larger groups, carrying more baggage, etc). This research would be focused on airport APMS, both airside and landside systems, which will have differing challenges, but also present unique opportunities due to the increased surveillance and central control control/communication capabilities.



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Idea No. 464