Technology Assessment to Improve Operations Counts at Non-towered Airports

Airport operations counts are an essential input into airport development planning. This includes forecast development, facility requirements, identifying proposed development, and environmental processing. However, data availability and reliability is often limited at non-towered airports. While the airport manager may have an estimate of total operations, the correlation of the manual counts to actual operations is unknown. Further, the airport counts usually do not have information on the make and model of aircraft operations at the airport, which is needed for critical aircraft determinations. FAA Traffic Flow Management System (TFMS) currently provides reliable counts by aircraft type for both towered and non-towered airports, which have airborne FAA radar surveillance, using IFR flight plan information and correlated radar track data. However, because VFR flights do not file flight plans, the system does not count VFR flights. VFR flights are therefore a primary gap in establishing accurate operations counts at non-towered airports. The purpose of this research is to mature the development of simple, cost-effective technologies that an airport could deploy on its airfield to generate accurate, detailed operational counts. The research will leverage prior work that assessed the viability of using aircraft transponder data (Mode A/C, Mode S, ADS-B) to count operations at airports. This research supports the recommendations of ACRP Report 129, Evaluating Methods for Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports, to investigate promising counting technologies that can be used at an airport year-round, thus mitigating issues with sampling errors.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $215,154
    • Contract Numbers:





    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Federal Aviation Administration

      Airport Technology Research and Development Section
      William J. Hughes Technical Center Building 296, Atlantic City International Airport
      Anlantic City, NJ  United States  08405
    • Project Managers:

      Torres, Jonathan

    • Performing Organizations:

      Purdue University, Lyles School of Civil Engineering

      550 Stadium Mall Drive
      West Lafayette, IN  United States  47907
    • Principal Investigators:

      Bullock, Darcy

    • Start Date: 20170821
    • Expected Completion Date: 20191031
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01661834
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability
    • Contract Numbers: 12-C-GA-PU-061, 12-C-GA-PU-064, 12-C-GA-PU-078, 12-C-GA-PU-086
    • Files: RIP, USDOT
    • Created Date: Mar 2 2018 1:48PM