Research Projects

Develop Runway Design Guidelines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles In Reserve

Assigned to Gael Le Bris
Last Edited by Gael Le Bris

Develop guidelines for the design of runway infrastructure to meet the unique needs of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The output of the research could be a guidebook to help practitioners design aviation facilities dedicated to safely and efficiently meet the operational requirements of UAVs of various sizes and configurations.

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

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), also referred to as drones, have been extensively used by the military for reconnaissance, surveillance, and combat action. Civil usage, until recently, was primarily limited to recreational usage. However, UAV navigation incorporating satellite navigation and the GPS system has greatly enhanced the potential for UAV usage at the civil level and especially at the commercial level. UAVs within the civil level are currently used for a large variety of applications including police surveillance, aerial photography, visual inspection of infrastructures, and research. In the near future, they could even be used for delivering medical supplies and commercial product delivery.

An Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) requires the UAV and a ground control station. Additionally, it requires space for landing and take-off. Consequently, the expanded usage of UAV at the civil level requires the development of airfield standards for landing, take-off, and maintenance for these autonomous vehicles.

Current standards are mainly based on collision and excursion risk models. Are UAVs following the same laws? Since they are unmanned, should we design aviation facilities dedicated to UAVs based on the same acceptable levels of risk than for manned aircraft?

In other words: UAV landing and takeoff requirements can be significantly different than manned aircraft. Most of the UAV have smaller sizes than conventional manned aircraft and the amount of g-force that is suitable for the unmanned aircraft can be much higher than the manned aircraft. Based on the precision of their trajectory during the approach and takeoff, is an UAV needs the same runway protections such as RSA, ROFA, RPZ, and OFZ as defined for conventional aircraft? Additionally, UAV aircraft gear configurations vary. Therefore, facility/airfield design warranted for UAV usage might be significantly different than what currently exists at airports.

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

Current standards for airport design are mainly based on collision and excursion risk models developed for manned aircraft. Are UAVs following the same laws? Since they are unmanned, should we design aviation facilities dedicated to UAV based on the same acceptable levels of risk than for manned aircraft? What about aviation infrastructures used by both manned and unmanned aircraft?

In other words: UAV landing and takeoff requirements may be different than manned aircraft. Most of the UAV have smaller sizes than conventional manned aircraft and the amount of g-force that is suitable for the unmanned aircraft can be much higher than the manned aircraft. Based on the precision of their trajectory during the approach and takeoff, does an UAV need the same runway protections such as Runway Safety Area (RSA), Runway Object Free Area (ROFA), Runway Protection Zones (RPZ), and Object Free Zones (OFZ) as defined for conventional aircraft?

The final objective of the research project is to develop guidelines for the design of airfield infrastructure to meet the unique needs of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The output of the research could be a guidebook to help practitioners design aviation facilities dedicated to safely and efficiently meet the operational requirements of UAV of various sizes and configurations.

PROPOSED TASKS

Research topics:
A - Small UAS requirements to operate in an airport environment / Minimum Equipment List for sUAS operations and operators.
B - Runway protection surfaces - inflight performance, inflight lateral deviations, crash probability ("OLS/OFZ" or equivalent relevant concepts for UAV, takeoff/landing slopes, RPZ).
C - Runway width and strip - runway excursion and undershoot hazards (RSA, ROFA). (Is this for UAS landing/take
off ? If so then it should also include landing zone in addition to runway)
D - Runway length requirements - takeoff and landing performances. (same thing for landing zone)

Note: Topic B might consider larger UAV.

For each research topic:

  1. Categorize UAV as a function of size, weight, gear configuration, landing/takeoff characteristics, and airfield demands.
  2. Study and document related hazards. Conduct risk assessment. Examine the potential for manned aircraft – UAV interaction.
  3. Conduct research on UAV behaviors regarding airfield design criteria (e.g. statistics on runway deviation).
  4. Develop risk-based guidelines for existing and new airport facilities for supporting UAV traffic.
  5. List existing airports with specific infrastructure/features for supporting UAV traffic.
  6. Create an operations document that FAA can circulate for UAS operations at airports.

DELIVERABLE

- Research report.
- Develop guidelines for airfield design considering UAV usage.
- Webinar

PROCESS USED TO DEVELOP THE PROBLEM STATEMENT

- 2015: Submission of a first problem statement to ACRP on this issue prepared by Ernie Heymsfield and Gael Le Bris.
- 2016: Participation in the ACRP workgroup on the preparation of problem statements related to UAS for FY2017.
- 2017-2019: Involvement of all Idea's team members with ACRP Project 03-42 "Airports and UAS".
- 2019: Revised version. Taxiway items removed. This project would focus on runway safety.

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

Estimated problem funding: $350,000

Justification: judgmental based on budget allocated to similar projects. Budget includes statistical studies based on infield measurements limited to the most critical criteria (e.g. takeoff/landing precision, runway lateral deviations) and using cost-efficient sensors and methodologies.

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 Project 04-08: Improved Models for Risk Assessment of Runway Safety Areas (RSA)
- ACRP Project 04-09: Risk Assessment Method to Support Modification of Airfield Separation Standards
- ACRP Project 04-14: Runway Veer-off Location Distribution Risk Assessment Model
- ACRP Project 04-18: Runway Protection Zone (RPZ) Risk Assessment Tool
- ACRP Project 03-30: UAS at Airports: A Primer
- ACRP Project 03-42: Airports and UAS - Overlap with this ongoing project would be very limited. Project 03-42 does not intend to develop UAS airfield design criteria or conduct extensive studies on deviation modelling as proposed in this problem statement.
- U.S. GAO, Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Continued Coordination, Operational Data, and Performance Standards Needed to Guide Research and Development, GAO-13-346T, Feb. 2013
- U.S. FAA, Airport Design, AC 150/5300-13A Chg 1, 2014
- DiPilato, M. and Vitagliano, L., Overview of the Taxiway Centerline Deviation Study at Airplane Design Group III Airports, DOT/FAA/TC-15/18, FAA, August 2015
- Statistical Extreme Value Analysis of JFK Taxiway Centerline Deviations for 747 Aircraft, FAA/Boeing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement 01-CRDA-0164
- Statistical Extreme Value Analysis of ANC Taxiway Centerline Deviations for 747 Aircraft, FAA/Boeing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement 01-CRDA-0164
- Proposals for the amendment of Annex 14, Volume I and PANS-Aerodromes (Doc 9981), State Letter AN 4/1.1.57-17/44, ICAO, 19 April 2017 and Annex 14 - Volume I, 8th edition, 2018

- Statewide research projects and use case evaluations: NCDOT, SCDOT (UAS for obstacle evaluation/mapping)

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Idea No. 58

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