Research Projects

Evaluating Electric Aviation's Environmental Benefits

GA Airports face a beneficial at the same time potentially costly decisions to support electric aircraft at their airports in the next 2-4 years. This project will equip airports with rigorous guidance to understand the environmental benefits of electric aviation for airports to evaluate when they start to consider investing in electric charging infrastructure.

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

Electric-powered flight will offer a transformative revolution in aviation and provide environmental benefits that will change the industry. Reduction of noise, elimination of leaded fuel, and reduced carbon emissions at airports are just a few of the environmental benefits that technology, available in the near future, will provide. Airports consistently need to evaluate and mitigate negative impacts from their operations and require robust methods to forecast operational changes from electric aircraft.

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

To develop a guidance document to estimate environmental benefits at GA airports to support decision making.

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

The objective of this ACRP proposed research is to develop a matrix of noise and emissions pollution sources at General Aviation airports and identify innovative technology such as electric-powered aircraft, that can eliminate or mitigate these pollution sources. The audience for this report is airport planners, airside operations staff, and environmental affairs groups. Airport executives and other key decision-makers are a second audience.

The research findings will include a matrix identifying how electric aircraft operations can address a range of current environmental impacts at General Aviation Airports. Best practices such as infrastructure readiness, and incentivizing the adoption of new technology located at General Aviation Airports that are either directly or indirectly relevant to electric aircraft adoption.

• Identification of the full range of known environmental impacts that occur at General Aviation Airports
• Survey results that reveal GA airport operators' current understanding of related environmental challenges and barriers
• Identification of the economic impact of noise pollution at GA airports that includes both the cost of noise mitigation and the impacts on the areas surrounding GA airports
• Individual case examples for at least ten airports related to a representative environmental challenge
• Matrix covering the specific environmental impacts and associated economic and social costs
• Identification of innovative lower-emission technology that has been implemented to generate environmental benefits such as solar, wind and electric vehicles on, or near, airport property
• Identification of future technology, that may be deployed in the next ten years, and comparative ranges of anticipated environmental benefits
• Infrastructure required to support the reduction of General Aviation environmental impacts
• Best practices airports can implement
• Challenges and opportunities

(1) to locate and assemble documented information within a formal literature review; (2) to learn what practice has been used for solving or alleviating the problems through a survey, direct interviews and site visits; (; (3) to learn what problems remain largely unsolved; (4) to organize, evaluate, and document the useful information that is acquired into a guidance document; and (5) to conduct a session at a relevant general aviation airport conference such as NASAO.

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

Cost: $280K
Components: Literature review, case interviews, policy analysis report, site visits to multiple airports to conduct general site, assessment of relevant technologies and/or technology integration, detailed calculation table for general aviation airport, and conducting workshop and materials for a GA conference.
Duration: 14 months including two months for review.

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.
  1. ACRP 03-51 Electric Aircraft on the Horizon - An Airport Planning Perspective (Current project)
  2. ACRP Report 162: Guidebook for Assessing Airport Lead Impacts
  3. ACRP Research Report 164: Exhaust Emissions from In-Use General Aviation Aircraft
  4. ACRP Report 19: Integrated Noise Model Accuracy for General Aviation Aircraft
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Idea No. 343