Synthesis Topics

Development of Airport Tug Service Road Systems

Create a synthesis of best practices that airports and industry professionals can consult for planning and designing airport tug/service road layout systems. Establishing industry guidelines will promote consistency and commonality while improving safety and efficiency during ramp operations.

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

The FAA provides design standards on pavement markings for airport tug roads; however, there is a need for planning guidance in developing the layouts of an airport tug road system. Due to the lack of available resources, airport tug road systems are generally left up to the airport's consultants for design. Providing standard design criteria could improve the operational efficiency for ground support equipment and other aircraft maintenance vehicles required for daily ramp operations. Design standards, such as critical object offset, structure offset, and radii dimensions, may vary by terminal size or layout, the level of aircraft activity, and the intended operational use. However, other considerations, especially for airfield service roads — such as the weight of the vehicles that will use the road, the speed at which the vehicles will operate, security checkpoints, perimeter security checks, future expandability, etc. — should also be considered.

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

Develop a resource that provides guidance for aviation professionals for planning and designing airport tug/service road systems. This document could collect data from various airports and establish baseline commonalities among them and advise a standard method of design. Although the tradition of implementing common planning practices exists among airport consultants, developing a design standard would establish uniformity and a consistency of layouts for these vital road systems. Based on common industry practice, additional guidance on typical tug maneuvering operations, tug traffic flow operations around terminal facilities, and ground support equipment (GSE) storage in and around terminal and concourse areas should be included.

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

As a synthesis project, it is recommended that seven to 10 airports of varying size and complexity with well-established tug/service roads be identified for interviews. The information gathered in the interviews should include, but not be limited to, how the development of the tug/service road system occurred and was funded, guidance used in the development, typical users, operational challenges, and future plans for improvements. The commonality and differences between the systems should be identified in the synthesis report, along with areas in which further research and guidance are desired.

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.

The FAA Guide to Ground Vehicle Operations: A Comprehensive Guide to Safe Driving on the Airport Surface is available. This document was created for the drivers of tugs, fuel trucks, baggage carts, and other airport vehicles. However, this resource focuses on guidance to help individuals understand airport basics in signage, markings, and lighting and to help vehicle operators have a solid comprehension of aviation phraseology to ensure safety while operating a vehicle on the airport. 

ACRP Report 96: Apron Planning and Design Guidebook discusses vehicle roadways, including apron service roads, emergency access roads and busing on apron, but has limited information on tug/service roads on the airfield.

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Idea No. 800