Research Projects

Counting airport operations from Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data.

Determine if airport operations can be accurately counted using ADS-B data.

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

Non-towered airports need an accurate estimate of their daily and annual operations (including aircraft make and model) for use in airport planning, environmental analysis, funding, project justification, and staffing, to name a few. Aircraft counting equipment tested by ACRP (under Report 129) included automated acoustical counters, sound-level meters, security/trail cameras, and video image detection. Each of these have their advantages but also come with many disadvantages, including accuracy, cost, installation problems, multiple units needed, etc. ADS-B has not been previously tested by ACRP because there was no commercially available equipment designed to count aircraft at the time the last study was completed. ADS-B is an advanced aviation technology that provides situational awareness that was previously available only from radar. Pilots and airports have begun to benefit from this technology, and determining how many aircraft are using an airport is a potential benefit that has not been tested. Ground based ADS-B counting equipment is now available (and satellite based expected in 2018) and offers several advantages, including that it does not need to be installed on the airfield (airside); therefore, it does not require FAA airspace approval through a Form 7460. Additionally, it does not require multiple units to count longer runways or multiple runways. Both the airspace approval and the uses of multiple counters are currently needed to count aircraft with acoustic, sound meter, or image detection equipment, thereby making them more expensive and cumbersome to use.

ACRP Report 129 was initiated in 2011 and it includes ADS-B as suggested research.

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

Determine if airport operations can be accurately counted using ADS-B data.

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

•Review current ADS-B requirements for aircraft/airspace
•Identify airspace where ADS-B will be required and where it will not
•Identify aircraft with ADS-B out technology (percent of fleet with and without technology, or equipage rate)
•Identify new ADS-B technology (ground based and satellite based) that has been developed since ACRP 129
(e.g., G.A.R.D.®ADS-B or Aireon/FlightAware) that can be used to count aircraft
•Test equipment/technology for accuracy and information received.

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

Estimated funding: $400,000
ACRP 129, Evaluating Methods for Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports, began in 2011 and cost $400,000. Equipment had to be purchased to be tested, and then it was donated to Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Transportation. This may require the purchase of equipment also, which elevates the cost.

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.

ACRP:
ACRP Report 129, Evaluating Methods for Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports
ACRP Synthesis 4, Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports
OTHER:
Angelini, J. Aviation Operations Monitoring System, University of Rhode Island, 2011 GRA, Inc. Model for Estimating General Aviation Operations at Non-Towered Airports Using Towered and Non-Towered Airport Data. Washington, DC: Federal Aviation Administration Office of Aviation Policy and Plans, 2001
Muia, M.J., An Analysis of the Methods Used to Calculate Customer Operations at Non-Towered Airports and of the Associated Managerial Uses of Operations Information, Union Institute Graduate College, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2000.
Zakaria, T., "Estimation of Aircraft Operations at Nontowered Airports in the Delaware Valley Region," Transportation Research Record 1158, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Washington,D.C.
Ford, M.L. and R. Shirack, Estimating Aircraft Activity at Non-Towered Airports: Results of the Aircraft Activity
Counter Demonstration Project, Oregon Department of Transportation, Salem, 1983.

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