Modernizing Air Cargo Operations and Infrastructure at U.S. Airports

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air cargo transports over $6 trillion worth of goods annually, which account for approximately 35 percent of world trade by value, making it a vital part of the supply chain. With the continued growth in e-commerce, spurred by the pandemic, many airports are experiencing increased cargo activity, including airports with limited or no cargo activity previously. Air cargo facilities, supporting infrastructure, and operations at many of the nation’s airports are inadequate, inefficient and need modernizing. ACRP Report 143: Guidebook for Air Cargo Facility Planning and Development provided important guidelines for cargo facility development. Updates and additional research is required to address emerging trends and technologies that present potential enhancements to cargo operations, facilities, and associated infrastructure.  The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook for airports of all types and sizes to help modernize their airport cargo facilities, processes, and operations in coordination with a variety of stakeholders. The guidebook should address the optimization of a multimodal approach to facilitate the flow of commerce and the movement of goods in coordination with on- and off-airport facilities and services, while considering constraints of surrounding local or regional transportation systems on cargo.  The guidebook should include, but not limited to, the following considerations:   (1) Best practices in data collection to assist with cargo forecasting and on-going operations; (2) Determining the proportionate required land on or off-airport to support air cargo; (3) Planning for specialized handling and storage facilities (e.g., critical care needs, perishables, etc.); (4) How emerging technologies may impact future cargo operations and facilities (e.g., autonomous vehicles, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), blockchain, databanks, Internet of Things (IoT), etc.); (5) Emerging security technologies and related protocols; (6) Role of freight forwarders and other logistic service providers; (7) Applicability of cargo community systems within trade corridors; (8) Promoting communication and the importance of cargo to stakeholders, airport planners, and overall community planning; (9) Systemic constraints and opportunities in megaregions and their effects on cargo; (10) The latest design trends on multi-story facilities and their potential to alleviate land availability concerns; (11) Opportunities and barriers to integrate sustainable features into cargo facility development and operations, including subsequent cost savings (e.g., transportation electrification, zero net energy facilities, etc.); (12) International facility benchmarking; and (13) Financing alternatives for cargo development.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $350000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 03-63

  • 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:

    SASI World

    Marco Island, Florida  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Diamond, Mark

  • Start Date: 20210729
  • Expected Completion Date: 20230128
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01748069
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 03-63
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 18 2020 10:02AM