Develop Airfield Design Guidelines for Large Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) activity for civilian purposes continues to grow and expand as operators use UAS not only for surveillance, aerial photography, and infrastructure inspection, but also for disaster relief and commercial operations. As airports consider introduction of larger UAS that need to use airports, there are a number of questions. It is unknown if (1) current airfield surfaces are adequate for use by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of similar-sized manned aircraft; (2) there is a design impact on capacity and safety; (3) airports should seek to integrate them with or segregate them from manned operations; and (4) in communities with multiple airports, communities should integrate UAS at the primary commercial service airport or design another airport for UAS. As indicated in ACRP Research Report 212: UAS and Airports, Volume 2, Incorporating UAS into Airport Infrastructure Planning, airport planners and engineers are considering whether and how to update master plans/airport layout plans (ALPs) for UAS. As technologies advance, UAS operators will find airfield design guidelines useful to their business and operational decisions. Many UAS operate in a manner similar to piloted aircraft and, therefore, need airfield facilities for their safe and efficient operation, but airfield facility planning guidance specifically tailored to address the unique needs of large UAS is limited. The objective of this research is to develop guidelines for airfield design challenges, issues, and considerations for the unique operational needs of large UAS (currently greater than 55 lbs), considering safety and capacity at existing airfields of different types and sizes. The primary audience for this research consists of airport managers, planners, UAS operators, and other stakeholders. The guidelines should address, but not be limited to the following: (1) integration vs. segregation of operational areas at airfields; (2) considerations for different UAS categories and capabilities; (3) integration of technology (e.g., command and control systems (C2), detect and avoid (DAA) systems, cybersecurity, infrastructure and utilities, etc.); (4) airport master planning, including economic and cost considerations; (5) UAS support infrastructure (e.g., maintenance facilities, hangars, terminal, fueling, etc.); (6) environmental impacts (e.g., hazmat, noise, battery storage); and (7) approach surfaces and terminal airspace.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $400000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 07-18

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Schatz, Theresia

  • Performing Organizations:

    Woolpert, Incorporated

    3800 Fernandina Road, Suite 100
    Columbia, SC    29210-3838
  • Principal Investigators:

    Mackie, Thomas

  • Start Date: 20190901
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220324
  • Actual Completion Date: 20220324

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01713669
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 07-18
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 12 2019 9:31PM