Research Projects

Post COVID-19, Ensuring Public Health by Setting New Operating Standards at U.S. Airports In Reserve

A variety of airport operational models are currently being proposed and enacted globally to manage COVID-19 and other potential contagious disease outbreaks. While there is merit in all these approaches, there is a critical need for a consistent and effective health management standard to be applied at airports worldwide. If a universally accepted and adopted standard was introduced, what are the implications if a new passenger and employee health management standard was implemented at all U.S. airports? What would the impacts be on airport operations and capital, and on airport passengers?

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

A variety of airport operational models are currently being proposed and enacted globally to manage COVID-19 and other potential contagious disease outbreaks. Among other examples, these models range from: Miami International Airport's 'FLY Safe, FLY Smart' in-terminal health awareness and health management program; Detroit Metropolitan Airport's 'Focus on Wellness' initiative for its passengers and employees; and the mandatory requirement of all passengers, visitors and airport workers to wear face coverings in and around airports such as San Francisco International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Additionally, there will likely be a requirement for in-terminal temperature checks of all passengers using U.S. airports in the near future.

Internationally, there are also many airport operational models and proposals at play in response to COVID-19. For example, London Heathrow's initial push for airports to offer a series of on-site COVID-19 screening measures; Vienna International Airport's recent introduction of in-terminal COVID-19 testing and a health clearance certification service; and guidance document development now under way via the ICAO Council and its newly established COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force.

While there is merit in all these approaches, there is a critical need for a consistent and effective health management standard to be applied at airports worldwide. If a universally accepted and adopted standard was introduced, what are the implications if a new passenger and employee health management standard was implemented at all U.S. airports? What would the impacts be on airport operations and capital, and on airport passengers?

U.S. Airports' Direct Support of the Problem Statement

On behalf of their organisations, the following airport executives support this problem statement, and advocate that it becomes the foundation of a funded ACRP research study.

 

Mr. Bill Poole

Senior Vice President, Planning & Design

Denver International Airport

Denver, CO

Tel: 1 (303) 342-4518

bill.poole@flydenver.com

 

Ms. Carol L. Obermeier

Director, Air Service Development

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)

Lee County Port Authority

Fort Myers, FL

Tel: 1 (239) 590-4510

clobermeier@flylcpa.com

 

Mr. Flavio Leo

Director, Aviation Planning & Strategy

Boston Logan International Airport

Massachusetts Port Authority

East Boston, MA

Tel: 1 (617) 568-3528 fleo@massport.com

 

Mr. Matt Cannon

Director of Development & Government Affairs

Albany County Airport Authority

Albany, NY

Tel: 1 (518) 242-2222

mcannon@albanyairport.com

 

Mr. Marshall B. Stevens, A.A.E

Deputy Executive Director

Harrisburg International Airport

Middletown, PA

Tel: 1 (717) 948-3900

marshalls@saraa.org

 

Synopsis

U.S. and international airports have experienced a range of epidemics and pandemics over the past 20 years. From SARS, MERS, Ebola, Zika, Avian Flu to COVID-19, the scale and complexity of disease mitigation measures at airports to ensure passenger and employee safety and security has varied considerably.

The immediate U.S. airport management focus to control and eradicate COVID-19 outbreaks at their airport facilities has naturally involved consideration and local application of: viable COVID-19 testing technologies; enhanced terminal cleaning; social distancing of passengers and employees; standards on the uses made of personal protective equipment among passengers and employees; and seeking to create touchless terminals. While these measures are necessary and are positive steps in the right direction, a co-ordinated national effort is required.

With this pandemic crisis, there is a critical need to move to a new global operating standard at airports and ensure consistent and effective approaches are applied to deliver safe and secure passenger journeys and employee environments at all U.S. airports, and worldwide.

This new global operating standard for health screening and health security at airports should be created based on, among other factors:

• empirical evidence on the effectiveness of disease detection testing methods and technologies;

• a combination of measures to minimize risk to traveling populations and employee groups;

• ensuring additional capacity at airport facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the role to ensure management and control of infectious diseases at interstate and national levels, as well as via in-bound international travelers entering and traveling throughout the United States. Emerging lessons learned from operational issues of passenger health detection and management at the eleven newly designated U.S. 'funneling airports' (or F11) in March 2020 also needs to be incorporated into providing longer-term solutions and plans, including:

• appropriately sized facilities at large and small U.S. airports;

• adaptable secured corridors for passenger circulation through international arrival processes;

• effective passenger containment methods and facilities;

• considerations for passenger compliance and adherence to potential new personal protection standards at airports (e.g. federal agency approaches to passenger mask-wearing during ID checks, the potential re-emergence of iris scans over full facial recognition technologies to counter masks on passengers etc).

At the same time, a new standard is under development to address COVID-19 and aviation health screening and health management. The ICAO Council's COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force has three different groups producing a global guidance document on behalf of ICAO as a response to COVID-19. This ICAO document is scheduled for release by the end of May 2020, and will provide guidance on each step of the process throughout the air passenger journey. Separate modules are expected to focus on operating standards onboard aircraft, among aircraft crew, at the airport, for passenger processing and servicing, and at cargo facilities. The initial output of this initiative will set the tone for the creation of global standards in passenger and employee health management at airports.

In addition, ICAO's Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events group (CAPSCA) has activated the Public Health Corridor (PHC) concept for airports, advanced by the Chief of the Aviation Medicine Section at ICAO. This Public Health Corridor initiative

proposes a new series of standardized and secure pathways and processes to ensure safe air travel journeys through airports and onboard aircraft. ICAO's CAPSCA Public Health Corridor concept has already been tabled as a mechanism to ensure commonality on COVID-19 responses, backed by a verifiable credential on a private blockchain.

In summary, all these initiatives have the potential to act as key inputs into the development of an aligned and standardized approach to health screening and health management for passengers and employees at U.S. airports, and airports worldwide.

If a universally accepted and adopted standard was introduced, what are the implications if a new passenger and employee health management standard was implemented at all U.S. airports? What would the impacts be on airport operations and capital, and on airport passengers?

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

In reaction to the global pandemic of COVID-19, airports and airlines are looking for means to mitigate health risks related to communicable diseases. They aim to protect airline passengers, airport visitors and staff while returning to cost-effective operations and this might ultimately lead to the establishment of a framework of consistent and effective globally accepted health management standards.

If a universally accepted and adopted standard was introduced, this research will aim to determine what the impacts would be on airport operations, capital, and passengers.

This research project will provide U.S. airports, small and large, with a practical and actionable document that contains guidelines, implementation tools and best practice solutions to activate health management operational standards to mitigate COVID-19 and other communicable disease risks.

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

1. Literature review to collect and report on existing empirical evidence on the effectiveness of disease detection testing methods and technologies;

2. Review and report on key themes and outcomes of post-COVID-19 guideline materials and policy/implementation approaches released by international health organisations e.g. WHO, CDC, ICAO CART Guidelines, EASA Guidelines, national governments, etc.;

3. Survey of a representative sample of airport leadership and stakeholders on existing practices and lessons learned to date to determine industry best-practices, and compare with international published guidelines;

4. Form a panel of experts on the topics of aviation operations and public health focusing on airport infrastructure, staffing and operational procedural changes to mitigate communicable disease risks, and offer best-practice standards for consideration;

5. Evaluate a wide range of measures, technologies and policies related to minimizing risk to traveling populations and employee groups in times of a global pandemic;

6. Analyze potential operational, business and financial impacts of proposed best-practice measures for airport infrastructure, planning, staffing and operations for large, medium and small airports;

7. Via a created guidebook, suggest recommendations and offer long-term solutions for:

7-a) appropriately sized and costed health management facilities and approaches for passengers, employees and visitors at large, medium and small U.S. airports;

7-b) adaptable secured corridors for passenger circulation;

7-c) effective passenger containment methods and facilities;

7-d) considerations for passenger compliance and adherence to potential new personal protection standards at airports;

7-e) the implementation of global standards;

7-f) the management and implementation of safe travel for air passengers generally to ensure the viability and recovery of the aviation sector and the travel/tourism industry generally;

  1. Suggest areas of interest for continued or follow-up research
Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

Between nine to twelve months of study with a US $ 500,000 budget

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 03-55: Airport Biometrics – A Primer (ongoing research)

ACRP Report 91: Infectious Disease Mitigation in Airports and on Aircraft (2013)

ACRP Report Conference Proceedings 47: Research on the Transmission of Disease in Airports and on Aircraft (2010)

GAO. 2015. Air Travel and Communicable Diseases: Comprehensive Federal Plan Needed for U.S. Aviation Preparedness. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Accountability Office.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Roles in Reducing Transmission of Communicable Diseases. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25367.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2017. Preparing Airports for Communicable Diseases on Arriving Flights. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24880.

Nicolaides, Christos & Avraam, Demetris & Cueto-Felgueroso, Luis & Gonzalez, Marta C. & Juanes, Ruben. (2019). Hand-Hygiene Mitigation Strategies Against Global Disease Spreading through the Air Transportation Network: Hand-Hygiene Mitigation Strategies Against Global Disease Spreading. Risk Analysis. 40. 10.1111/risa.13438.

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security Traveling During the COVID-19 Pandemic Tuesday, April 21, 2020https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2020/04/21/traveling-during-covid-19-pandemic

Pandemic Influenza; Preparedness, Response, and Recovery – Guide for Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources", Department of Homeland Security, 2005.

Vonnahme, L. A., M. R. Jungerman, R. K. Gulati, P. Illig, and F. Alvarado-Ramy. 2017. U.S. Federal Travel Restrictions for Persons with Higher-Risk Exposures to Communicable Diseases of Public Health Concern. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 23(13).

WHO. 2009. Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation: Module 1: Water, Module 2: Cleaning and Disinfection of Facilities. Geneva: World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/ihr/portsairports/guidehygienesanitationaviation3edition_wcov.pdf.

WHO. 2005. Strengthening Health Security by Implementing the International Health Regulations: About IHR. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/ihr/about/en/.

Annotations
Idea No. 490