AIRPORT SAFETY RESEARCH
Published Papers and Technical Notes
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The Federal Aviation Administration Airport Technology Research & Development Branch conducted a Full-Scale Cargo Fire Research Project that involved a series of firefighting-related tests with an Airbus A310 cargo aircraft. One test included a study of the weight and balance characteristics of the aircraft during a fire attack. Aircraft are sensitive to loading configurations; therefore, personnel working on and around the aircraft must ensure the aircraft remains within aircraft manufacturer’s recommended weight and balance guidelines during loading and unloading. Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) personnel must be equally aware of these weight and balance guidelines when responding to an aircraft accident or incident. Depending on the severity, impacts or abrupt movements affecting the aircraft during the event can cause a shift in load, which would adversely affect the weight and balance. Freighter aircraft are particularly susceptible to weight and balance issues due to cargo weight and varying locations on the aircraft in which the cargo can be placed.
The research effort focused on many factors involving aircraft stabilization and identified the issues ARFF should consider to prevent an aircraft tail tip from occurring. Researchers documented changes in the aircraft height at four locations around the aircraft to see how the introduction of water and agent affected aircraft balance during full-scale fire tests to determine the weight and balance behavior of the aircraft. However, throughout the numerous fire test scenarios that were conducted, researchers were unable to identify any significant changes in the aircraft’s height. When the tests were complete, researchers purposely attempted to create the conditions necessary to tail-tip the aircraft. Researchers successfully achieved a tail tip after adding roughly 6200 gallons of water to the aircraft and concentrating the weight of the water to the aft of the aircraft, thereby causing a tail-heavy condition.
A review of aircraft weight and balance industry practices identified several pieces of equipment that could aid ARFF personnel in maintaining aircraft stability during emergency responses. This report identifies factors of aircraft stabilization for aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel as well as equipment that could aid firefighting personnel in maintaining aircraft stability during emergency responses.
Magnetrons are a critical component of current avian radar technologies,
providing avian radar systems with the energy that is transmitted and
received to identify targets. The current avian radar systems used in an
avian radar performance assessment uses X-band marine radars that are
based on magnetron technology. Manufacturers recommend regular
replacement of magnetrons to maintain radar detection effectiveness. The
University of Illinois Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT)
examined the issue of operational effectiveness for magnetrons with
short and long operational histories. CEAT found that magnetrons with
long operational histories performed at a level consistent with new
magnetrons. CEAT recommends that magnetron replacement be based on
performance criteria rather than on a fixed schedule or replacement
period. Replacement should be made when a magnetron fails to produce
consistent detection results when evaluated as part of a regularly
scheduled radar health assessment program.
The evolution of aircraft design and construction has brought
about new challenges to Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) personnel. The
New Large Aircraft (NLA) entering the market have introduced increased passenger
capacities, fuel loads, hydraulic pressures, and the use of advance composite
materials. The most significant change is the introduction of the full-length,
upper-passenger deck on the Airbus A380 with certification for up to 853 total
passengers. The B-747-8 was just beginning flight service in the United States
as this report was being developed. A supplement to this report will be issued
following additional research specific to the B-747-8.
On February 7, 2006, the United Parcel Service Flight 1307 was involved in a cargo fire incident at the Philadelphia International Airport. The official investigation of the incident identified deficiencies in training that Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) personnel had in fighting cargo fires inside freighter aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board made several recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) related to ARFF training, tactics, strategy, and performance, to provide cargo firefighting training methods to ARFF personnel. As part of a response to these recommendations, the FAA launched a series of full-scale research tests to evaluate different tactics to combat cargo fires.
A series of 11 test scenarios evaluated the effectiveness of certain firefighting tactics on specific cargo scenarios with various types of unit load devices (ULD), also referred to as cargo containers. The tests were performed at the Southern California Logistics Airport inside an Airbus A310. An oxygen deprivation tactic was used to seal all ventilation in the aircraft to determine if it could create an oxygen-deprived environment (i.e., oxygen levels drop below 12%) that would cause the fire to self-extinguish. Two high-reach extendable turrets with aircraft skin-penetrating nozzle (ASPN) technologies were used to evaluate penetration tactics on different-sized containers placed right next to the interior walls of the fuselage and their effectiveness in extinguishing or controlling a container fire. These penetrations were known as direct attacks. Two Snozzle® ASPN configurations and one Stinger® ASPN configuration were evaluated for this part of the research. For the next test scenarios, a Snozzle® ASPN, a Stinger® ASPN, and one prototype ASPN were used to evaluate tactics that involved indirectly attacking containers that were placed at an unreachable distance away from the interior wall of the fuselage. This meant water was discharged into the container from a distance and not from penetrating the container. In addition to container fires, pallet fires were produced to test the indirect attack tactic effectiveness using the standard Snozzle® ASPN.
Data from the oxygen deprivation tests were inconclusive in determining the effectiveness of the tactic. Results from the direct attack tactics indicated that successful control and/or extinguishment of the fire can be achieved if the ASPN is able to penetrate into the container. Longer penetration into the fuselage proved to be more effective in controlling the fire. Data indicated that the prototype ASPN proved to be more effective than the current designs when indirectly attacking a burning ULD container. The data also showed the current standard ASPN design effectively controlled the open pallet fire in the tests.
New Large Aircraft (NLA) pose unique firefighting challenges unique for traditional aircraft. Specifically, questions have arisen regarding the applicability of current firefighting protection standards to nonconventional design changes, such as fuselage shape modifications, enhanced material compositions, new fuel storage locations, and unique passenger loading configurations. To address fuselage shape concerns, a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling strategy was developed to quantify heat transfer to the aircraft for a given aircraft geometry and hydrocarbon pool fire condition. The CFD predictions supported experimental validation data conclusions showing increased crosswinds amplify heat transfer to the aircraft surface due to enhanced turbulent fuel-air mixing. Based upon the predicted CFD fire plume structure and aircraft surface heat transfer magnitudes, nominal changes in aircraft geometry exposed to similar scale flame and atmospheric conditions pose no extraordinary firefighting challenge. All thermal attributes stayed within the same order of magnitude and, in the majority of instances, varied less than 15%.
In 2009, the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conduct a trial program or validation effort to assess the use of a Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM), commonly referred to as the Matrix. The validation effort was intended to examine the RCAM’s processes to determine if they could be implemented at airports nationwide in order to disseminate runway surface condition information to pilots prior to landing. The objectives included validating the correlation between the Matrix surface condition descriptions and pilot braking action reports (PIREP) and determining the usability of the Matrix for airport operators and pilots.
This technical note gives a general overview and background of the TALPA ARC and provides an overview of the two RCAM FAA validation efforts during consecutive winter airport operations seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Recommendations for changes to the RCAM are also provided. This technical note discusses these two validation efforts along with the evaluation approach, analysis, results, and recommendations. Similarly, the revisions and changes that affected the RCAM and its processes during the course of this effort are also described.
An Industry Team comprised of industry representatives instrumental in the development of the RCAM, along with the FAA, airport operators, and air carrier representatives who participated in the validation efforts, reviewed the evaluation approach, analysis, and results. Based on the results of the validation efforts, the Industry Team recommended that the FAA work to implement the RCAM and its processes into aviation operations.
The content of this handbook is the consolidated effort of the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) Subcommittee on General Aviation Lighting, the Center of Excellence for General Aviation Research (CGAR) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Safety Technology Research and Development Visual Guidance Program personnel. The purpose of the content is to generate awareness of an alternative line of products. This alternative line of products represent the visual lighting presentation of the more expensive, fully FAA-approved lighting systems at a reduced cost while still maintaining needed visual cues.
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Advisory Circular 150/5210-17B, “Program for Training of Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Personnel,” added freighter aircraft familiarization as a requirement for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) training. To develop the tactics and strategies for this training, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requested research in freighter aircraft firefighting. Part of this research entailed developing tactics for extinguishing freighter aircraft fires with an aircraft skin-penetrating nozzle (ASPN). Early in the research effort, it was determined that the current nozzle designs were not adequate to fight cargo fires on freighter aircraft, and a new nozzle design would have to be developed.
Four prototype ASPNs were designed and fabricated specifically to fight cargo fires on freighter aircraft indirectly. Various tests were performed on all four prototype ASPNs to measure flow rates, spray patterns, and extinguishment effectiveness. Flow and pressure readings were taken from each prototype ASPN to confirm that they met industry standards. All prototype ASPNs met industry standards when using the FAA Oshkosh Striker® ARFF research vehicle. Prototype Nozzle 3 exhibited the highest flow rate of all prototype ASPNs, while Prototype Nozzle 4 displayed the highest pressure readings. Photo documentation was taken of the spray pattern for each prototype ASPN to analyze the different spray trajectories each nozzle produced. These trajectories would show where water would go during a container fire. Prototype Nozzles 2 and 3 exhibited similar spray patterns consisting of a wide umbrella spray and a forward-projecting straight stream. Prototype Nozzle 4’s spray pattern consisted of three different range hollow spray cones. Container fire tests inside an aircraft section were conducted to determine the effectiveness of each nozzle. Visual inspection and thermocouple readings were used to determine the effectiveness. Although all prototype ASPNs were able to extinguish a portion of the fire, Prototype Nozzle 3 provided the best design based on these criteria and practicality of nozzle design. Prototype Nozzle 3 was selected to be used for full-scale cargo fires to validate the earlier testing.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initiated the Bird Radar Research Program in the 1990s when prototype systems for detecting birds at airfields were being introduced. Studies that focused on the performance of commercially available bird radar detection systems began in 2005. For nearly two decades, the FAA Airport Technology Research and Development Branch has directed research on an extensive and varied list of radar technologies. This interim report summarizes the Bird Radar Research Program to date and describes future planned bird radar research activities.
Bird radars have demonstrated valuable functionalities that support various end users in the aviation community. Currently, the primary role of bird radar is a tool to support wildlife hazard assessments at airports and control of hazardous wildlife at or near airport property. However, implementation and application of bird radar detection systems is continually evolving amidst accelerated technological improvements, systems integration, and robust data analysis capabilities. Bird radar manufacturers continue to develop improved equipment that can provide higher-fidelity data on target location, speed, and mass amounting to a potential role in civil air traffic control.
The FAA Bird Radar Research Program is expected to continue for a number of years with a focus on extending bird radar’s role to support air traffic control on a local level and augmenting bird radar with other longer-range radar assets to provide coverage on a regional, and perhaps even a national, scale.
In 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Branch conducted a performance assessment of the FODetect®, a hybrid radar and electro-optical foreign object debris (FOD) detection system developed by Xsight Systems, Ltd. This assessment included the system’s capability to detect objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials at all locations on the runway surface. The system’s capability to detect FOD during both nighttime and daytime conditions, in periods of sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow, was also assessed.
The FODetect system was initially demonstrated in January 2008. Following the demonstration, a more comprehensive performance assessment of the technology was conducted at the Boston Logan International Airport. The performance assessment was initiated in June 2008 with a test schedule that continued until May 2009. Researchers conducted several test sessions to assess the FODetect’s capability to detect selected FOD items. The tests focused on hybrid sensor characteristics, specifically the joint capabilities of radar and electro-optical sensors operating together.
The FODetect system was able to detect the objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials on runway surfaces and perform satisfactorily in nighttime, daytime, sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow conditions, as required by FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-24, “Airport Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Equipment.”
Magnetrons are a critical component of current avian radar technologies, providing avian radar systems with the radio energy that is transmitted and received to identify targets. The current avian radar systems used in an avian radar performance assessment use X-band marine radars that are based on magnetron technology. Manufacturers recommend regular replacement of magnetrons to maintain radar detection effectiveness. The University of Illinois Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) examined the operational life of magnetrons in 12 avian radar systems deployed as a part of an avian radar performance assessment program. Based on typical marine radar use, manufacturers recommend replacing magnetrons between 2,000 and 6,000 transmitting hours. However, CEAT found that magnetrons used in avian radar typically could be used for 12,000 hours of continuous operation before needing replacement. Therefore, CEAT recommends that avian radar users schedule magnetron replacement at approximately 12,000–15,000 hours, or every 18–24 months.
Aviation signal lighting systems are increasingly replacing filtered and unfiltered incandescent lamps with light-emitting diode (LED) sources to create various signal light colors. As LED sources produce spectral distributions that can differ in color appearance from incandescent signal lights, it is important to understand how the characteristics of LEDs influence color identification.
The objective of this research was to provide chromaticity regions for aviation signal lights that maximize the likelihood of correct identification while minimizing the potential for confusion with other colors.
Three color identification studies of aviation signal lights were conducted to produce white, yellow, red, blue, and green colors using filtered and unfiltered incandescent lamps and LEDs. The objectives of these studies were to (1) identify chromaticity regions resulting in a high probability of correctly identifying aviation signal lights as white; (2) compare the color identification performance of color-normal and color-deficient observers in response to incandescent and LED signal lights of each nominal color (white, yellow, red, blue, and green); and (3) identify chromaticity regions resulting in a high probability of correctly identifying aviation signal lights as yellow, red, or blue.
Based on the results of these studies, recommendations for each of the nominal signal colors are provided in the Commission Internationale de l’Éclairage 1931 chromaticity space.
Following the in-flight cargo fire accident involving United Parcel Service (UPS) flight 1307 at the Philadelphia International Airport on February 7, 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting personnel did not have adequate training in fighting freighter aircraft fires. A post-incident, on-aircraft analysis by UPS personnel suggested the cargo liner interfered with the aircraft skin-penetrating nozzle’s (e’s (ASPN) ability to discharge firefighting agent on the fire. The UPS analysis suggested that the firefighting agent became trapped between the cargo liner and the fuselage, implying that the liner separated from the fuselage and acted as a shield, which prohibited the firefighting agent from controlling the cargo fire. The research described in this report evaluates the role of cargo liner in penetration of an aircraft with an ASPN.
Small-scale scoping tests identified the penetration behavior of heated cargo liner within an area of approximately 480 square inches. The cargo liner was mounted in a frame and penetrated with an ASPN that was fitted to a hydraulic ram. Initial penetration tests were conducted with cargo liner intact. Heated tests involved penetration while the material was directly exposed to a kerosene burner flame. Full-scale tests examined the role of cargo liner mounting hardware in ASPN penetration. The full-scale test article was composed of a mockup section of the freighter aircraft. This was created by mounting the cargo liner in a section of a modified C-133 aircraft. A cargo liner mounting frame was duplicated from an example freighter aircraft. The frame used normal aircraft construction techniques and materials. Electric radiant heaters and liquid fuel pool fires served as heat sources. An ASPN mounted on a high-reach extendable turret (HRET) was used to penetrate the aircraft.
Penetration results were evaluated based on the number of unblocked ASPN holes on the interior side of the cargo liner. Under ambient conditions, the cargo liner did not significantly stretch or otherwise impede penetration. The heated cargo liner exhibited limited stretching or sagging, but not enough to obstruct the ASPN. Only 1 of the 45 full-scale heated tests demonstrated significant nozzle obstruction. Small-scale heated tests indicated that incomplete penetration or reduced penetration depth could lead to obstruction of 33% to 77% of the nozzle. Overall, tests indicated that cargo liner material does not normally hinder the use of an ASPN for application of firefighting agent. Given sufficient penetration length, it was observed that the ASPN is capable of penetrating through the cargo liner into the interior of the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration Airport Technology Research and Development Branch conducted a literature review of technology and technological solutions that could be used to prevent runway incursions and surface accidents involving vehicles with authorized access to the aircraft movement area. The objective was to identify a technology that would be optimal for this purpose and would warrant further evaluation.
The optimal technology was defined as a complete system that provides an alert to ground vehicle operators when approaching a sensitive or restricted area, while having minimal equipment installation requirements that could impact the airport infrastructure.
The components needed for an alerting system are (1) reliable ground vehicle position information as to where it is on an airport, (2) a device is needed to provide the visible and audible alerts to the vehicle operator, and (3) the most critical, the logic necessary to take and send the alert directly to the device in the ground vehicle. A literature search was conducted to identify technologies and systems that have the potential to provide a visible and audible alert to ground vehicle operators when approaching a restricted area, such as runways, runway safety areas, etc.
A number of technologies have components that could be used in an alerting system; however, only three were identified that constituted a complete system. They were (1) the Incursion Collision Avoidance System (ICAS), (2) The Runway Incursion Monitoring Detection Alerting System (RIMDAS), and (3) The Asset Tracking and Incursion Management System (ATIMS).
The analysis of the literature search showed that the RIMDAS did not provide an alert when approaching a sensitive or restricted area. The lack of this feature is a disadvantage compared to the ICAS and ATIMS systems, which provide this capability. Both the ICAS and RIMDAS systems required equipment to be installed on the airport in addition to the equipment needed in the ground vehicle. For these reasons, the ICAS and RIMDAS were not recommended for further evaluation.
The analysis of the literature search showed that the ATIMS met the optimal criteria, and a version of the ATIMS is already being used on airports. The only equipment needed is in the ground vehicle. Because of these advantages, the ATIMS is recommended for further evaluation.
For nearly 40
years, the National Fire Protection Association, the Federal Aviation
Administration, and the International Civil Aviation Organization have used
mathematical models, such as the Theoretical Critical Area and Practical
Critical Area (TCA/PCA) method, to determine Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF)
requirements at commercial airports throughout the world. These models used the
length and width of the aircraft fuselage to determine a rectangular area in
which extinguishing the fire was critical to safely evacuate passengers. They do
not consider the plausible amount of fuel that could be released in survivable
The current method for determining required firefighting agent quantities at an airport is based on the concept of a “critical area” rectangular box defined by the aircraft length and fuselage width. Aircraft size and construction materials have evolved to an extent that the concepts of critical area, which consists of Theoretical Critical Area and Practical Critical Area need to be studied to ensure they are still valid methodologies for determining the firefighting agent requirements for airports. This analysis addressed various factors in assessing current aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) agent requirements. These factors included the historical development of the existing methods and the recent fire-related loss history. The recent loss history includes the effectiveness of the ARFF response and a fire hazard analysis for threats to occupants in an aircraft and those who have escaped the aircraft. The National Fire Protection Association 403 methodology was found to be acceptable and appropriate for establishing agent quantities.
This project was initiated to develop a live fire test protocol that could determine if the amounts of fire extinguishing agent currently carried on Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting vehicles are sufficient to extinguish fires involving aircraft built with advanced composite material fuselages. Currently two advanced composite materials are used in construction of commercial aircraft fuselages; GLAss-REinforced Fiber Metal Laminate, commonly called GLARE, and carbon fiber composite. The objective of this series of tests was to assess the fire behavior of carbon fiber composites. These tests focused on the following specific fire behaviors: (1) if either self-sustained burning or smoldering exist after fire exposure, (2) the extent of heat propagation through the carbon fiber composite, (3) how long it takes for the carbon fiber composite to naturally cool below 300°F (150°C), and (4) if there are any physical indicators that would help firefighters determine that the carbon fiber composite had cooled sufficiently to prevent reignition. These tests comprise the first phase of a two-phase approach to assess the fire behavior of aircraft fuselage advanced composite materials. The second phase will determine the amount of firefighting agent needed to extinguish and cool the composite.
Aviation Administration (FAA) has an ongoing research program that evaluates
new technologies for increasing postcrash fire survivability on aircraft and
determines methods to increase the performance capabilities of aircraft
rescue and firefighting (ARFF) vehicles. Excessive tire wear on hard
surfaces is a concern on ARFF vehicles with more than four wheels. The FAA
ARFF research program evaluated a six-wheeled ARFF vehicle with rear-wheel
assessments are regularly performed to support the development of wildlife
hazard management plans (WHMP) for airports. Current assessments use visual
observations of wildlife, with particular attention paid to birds. As a
tool, avian radar can supplement visual observations of birds on and around
airports and can provide useful data sets for analyses to support the
development of WHMPs. A test of avian radar was conducted to demonstrate its
usefulness as a supplement to a
Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Research and Development
Branch initiated research to evaluate a new trapezoidal-shaped pavement
groove configuration. The purpose of this evaluation was to determine if the
new trapezoidal-shaped pavement groove configuration offered any benefits
over the current FAA standard groove configuration, specifically in the
areas of water evacuation, rubber contamination, integrity, longevity, and
have conducted extensive research to better understand how migratory birds are
negatively affected by
who accept federal funding are obligated to make the aircraft facility
available to all aeronautical activities, including parachuting and
skydiving. Due to the lack of guidance concerning parachute landing areas (PLA)
for airports that are able to accommodate nontraditional aeronautical
activities (such as skydiving), research was conducted to determine the
recommended size and location of PLAs on airports and provide guidance
In 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Research and Development Team conducted a performance assessment of the iFerret™, electro-optical, foreign object debris (FOD) detection system. This assessment included the system’s capability to detect objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials at all locations on the runway surface. The system’s capability to detect FOD during both nighttime and daytime conditions, in periods of sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow was also assessed.
A comprehensive performance assessment of the technology was demonstrated at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Installation of iFerret sensors was completed at ORD in late 2008, and extensive data collection was conducted from June 2009 through July 2010. These were supplemented by an assessment of an iFerret installation at Singapore’s Changi International Airport in May 2009. At the conclusion of the data collection process, the FAA had sufficient data to conclude the performance assessment. The iFerret FOD detection system was able to detect objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials on runway surfaces, taxiways, and aprons and was able to perform satisfactorily in nighttime, daytime, sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow conditions, as required by FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-24, “Airport Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Equipment.”
introduction of the High-Reach Extendable Turret (HRET) to the Aircraft
Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) industry, approximately 400 HRET, have been
retrofitted into existing ARFF vehicles or purchased with new ARFF vehicles
worldwide. Some advantages and benefits of this technology include increased
throw range performance, increased range of turret motion, more efficient
agent application by applying agent at the seat of the fire, faster
extinguishment of two-dimensional pool and three-dimensional flowing fuel
fires, and the ability to penetrate inside an aircraft to cool the interior
cabin and extinguish the fire. This added capability can increase passenger
survivability, protect property, and extinguish fire faster during an
aircraft postcrash incident.
describes the details of a theoretical analysis of the firefighting agent
amounts carried by aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) equipment. The report
is a detailed heat transfer and suppression analysis of fuel spill fires on
exposed aircraft. This analysis addressed various factors in assessing current
ARFF agent requirements. The amount of firefighting agent necessary to prevent
interior aircraft ignition and allow for safe egress is presented for
representative fuel spill fire scenarios and ARFF arrival times. The scenarios
consider wind conditions, aircraft and fuel spill sizes, aircraft skin
thickness, and aircraft insulation/construction. For example, fires burning in
wind conditions will have a different flame shape and flame length than a fire
burning under calm conditions with all other parameters held constant. The
analysis also found that the time required to melt the aluminum skin is strongly
dependent on the exposure heat flux and on the skin thickness but not on the
Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to assess ways to prevent runway
incursions and other airport operational incursions, especially during
ground vehicle operations at airport. The FAA Airport Technology Research
and Development Team conducted research for the development of an airport
ground vehicle runway incursion warning system. The objectives were to
evaluate navigation devices and their technology for use in airport vehicles
to prevent airport incursions, provide recommendations for criteria for the
design and operation of a system defining both minimum and optimal features,
and provide cost estimates for the procurement of the equipment.
In 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Research and Development Team initiated research to conduct a performance assessment of the Trex Enterprises FOD Finder™, a mobile, radar-based foreign object debris (FOD) detection system. This assessment included the system’s capability to detect objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials at all locations on the runway surface. The system’s capability to detect FOD during both nighttime and daytime conditions, in periods of sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow was also assessed.
In 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Research and Development Team initiated a research program to conduct a performance assessment of the QinetiQ, Ltd. Tarsier Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection radar system. The purpose of this assessment was to identify key operational characteristics and limitations of the system at an active air carrier airport, including the system’s ability to detect objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials at all locations on the runway surface. The system’s ability to detect FOD during both nighttime and daytime conditions, in periods of sun, rain, mist, fog, and in light and heavy snow was also assessed. In January 2005, the FAA developed plans for a comprehensive performance assessment of the technology at the Providence T. F. Green International Airport. Installation of the Tarsier system was completed in April 2007. Extensive data collection campaigns were conducted from June 2007 to March 2008. At the conclusion of the data collection process, the FAA had sufficient data to conclude the performance assessment. The QinetiQ Ltd. Tarsier FOD detection radar system was found to detect the necessary objects of various shapes, sizes, and materials on the runway surface and was able to perform satisfactorily in nighttime, daytime, sun, rain, mist, fog, and snow conditions, as required by FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-24, “Airport Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection Equipment.”
The objective was
to evaluate the performance of the FAA 6x6 ARFF research vehicle with and
without the RWS system. The performance was measured in terms of changes in
turning diameter, tire deflection, tread wear, and actual tire life data from
U.S. airports operating 6x6 ARFF vehicles. The results show RWS improved the
turning diameter in both the clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Tire
deflection analysis did not show any significant differences with or without RWS.
Five types of retro-reflective beads were evaluated: three are currently
approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use on airfield
markings, as indicated in FAA Advisory Circular 150/5370-10D and two are the
newly proposed retro-reflective beads. This evaluation covered a 1-year
period starting in August 2008.
DOT/FAA/AR-TN10/10Author: Anthony J. Previti*, Holly Cyrus, and Donald W. Gallagher
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beads are designed to redirect and return light back to its source. The
inclusion of retro-reflective beads in painted surface markings can increase
their conspicuity. It has been suggested that Type III retro-reflective
beads, which have a higher index of refraction (IOR) compared to Type I
beads, will substantially increase the conspicuity of paint markings and
could help prevent runway incursions. The FAA uses Federal Specification
TT-B-1325D, “Beads (Glass Spheres) Retro-Reflective,” to specify
Airborne Evaluation of
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As part of a
multiple-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Safety
Technology Research & Development Program, avian radar units were deployed
at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the Naval Air Station
Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington, by the University of Illinois Center
of Excellence in Airport Technology. This report provides a general protocol
for avian radar deployment and addresses a wide range of issues associated
with radar use in the complex environment of a typical civil airport. The
actual activities that must be completed for avian radar deployment will be
site- and situation-specific.
This report is the
first of a two-part study focused on the subject of reporting wildlife
strikes with civil aircraft in the U.S. and examines current strike
reporting trends to determine if the current voluntary system is providing a
sufficient quantity of data to support an accurate, statistical
understanding of the national wildlife strike issue.
This paper brings under one cover the subject of aircraft braking performance and a variety of related phenomena that lead to aircraft hydroplaning, overruns, and toss of directional control. Complex processes involving tire deformation, tire slipping, and fluid pressures in the tire runway contact area develop the friction forces for retarding the aircraft; this paper describes the physics of these processes. The paper reviews the past and present research efforts and concludes that the most effective way to combat the hazards associated with aircraft landings and takeoffs on contaminated runways is by measuring and displaying in realtime the braking performance parameters in the aircraft cockpit.
Author: Satish K. Agrawal, Ph.D.
of Runway Grooving
A Runway Grooving Video is embedded in the above presentation. If you want to download the presentation make sure you also download the video.
transverse grooves on runways improves braking and cornering performance of
aircraft during operations In wet weather conditions and helps to alleviate
hydroplaning. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recommended
Runway grooving is
an effective surface treatment that reduces the danger of hydroplaning to an
aircraft landing on a water covered runway. Grooves are usually cut by
diamond-tipped rotatory blades; square grooves of l/4-inch size are widely used.
Runway surface treatments, such as grooves, can minimize the danger of aircraft hydroplaning by reducing the water buildup on the runway and by facilitating forced water escape from the tire-runway interface. Square saw-cut grooves of 1/4-inch size with spacing between 1 inch and 2 1/2 inches have been widely used, the former providing a higher resistance to hydroplaning. Other surface treatments that have been reported as being effective in minimizing aircraft hydroplaning include porous friction overlay and reflex-percussive grooves. The latter being offered as a potential cost-effective alternative to square saw-cut grooves.
Takeoff hold lights
(THL) are positioned along the runway centerline, and when illuminated, they
are visible to an aircraft pilot at the beginning of the runway preparing
for takeoff. Normally, these lights are off. A Runway Status Light (RWSL)
System monitors the runway occupancy status and conveys this information to
the pilots, ground vehicle operators, and others using special lighting
components such as the THLs. Specifically, when a runway is occupied, the
RWSL System turns on the THLs and provides a conspicuous visual warning to
pilots preparing for takeoff that they should not continue.
Due to the harsh
conditions of airport environments, frequent repainting of existing
waterborne pavement markings is required. This painting is expensive and
affects life-cycle costs. A thermoplastic marking material has been
identified as an alternative to the existing waterborne material. The
purpose of this research effort was to determine if this thermoplastic
marking material is as effective as the current waterborne material in terms
of its retro-reflectivity, chromaticity, friction properties, and its
adherence to the airport pavement surface.
study was conducted to determine how light emitting diode (LED) taxiway edge
lights affect the operation of Constant Current Regulators (CCR). Some CCRs turn
off due to overvoltage or overcurrent because of LED taxiway edge lights.
use two common strategies for keeping snow and ice buildup on aircraft
movement areas to a minimum. The practice of anti-icing is primarily
preventive, where the formation or development of bonded snow and ice is
minimized by timely applications of a chemical freezing-point depressant (FPD)
in advance and sometimes during each winter precipitation event. Deicing on
the other hand is a primarily reactive practice because the FPD is not
applied until snow or ice has already accumulated and formed a bond to the
pavement surface. There are advantages and disadvantages to both practices.
Anti-icing has the potential of lower costs due to less chemical being used
than in deicing; however, a more systematic approach is often needed.
Transportation Safety Board accident/incident database and the Aviation
Safety Reporting System have reported pilots mistakenly landing on the
taxiways adjacent to runways. As of August 23, 2007, 267 such events have
occurred at 110 airports in the United States. These inadvertent landings
create a safety hazard that must be eliminated. This technical note provides
guidance on techniques that can be implemented at airports to reduce or
eliminate this problem. Two scenarios were considered during this research
effort: (1) prevent the pilot from inadvertently lining up with the taxiway
during the approach, and (2) prevent the pilot from landing on the taxiway
if the first effort fails. Four visual aid enhancements were tested at
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport:
an elevated lighted X, artificial turf, omnidirectional runway end
identifier lights, and an in-pavement lighted X. Each piece of equipment was
placed on the taxiway and was evaluated one at a time while making final
approaches to the runway with the exception of the artificial turf and
omnidirectional lights, which were turned on constantly. Based on the
results, it was concluded that an elevated lighted X and an in-pavement
lighted X were seen at an average distance of 4.5 nm. Omnidirectional lights
and green artificial turf were seen at a distance of 5.0 nm.
Note: Changes have been made to this report, click the link below for the updated version.
advances and firefighting research have helped improve new firefighting
systems on large and small aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles at
airports. One such technology is a quad-agent firefighting system that has
the capability to discharge four firefighting agents, i.e., water, foam, dry
chemical (potassium bicarbonate (PK)), and clean agent (Halotron),
individually or simultaneously. Water by itself is typically not used for
aviation fuel firefighting. The water in the quad-agent system is used to
mix with foam concentrate solution to create firefighting foam. The
quad-agent firefighting system attempts to advance the concept of multiple
agents simultaneously applied to the fire to affect a more rapid
extinguishment of pool and flowing fuel fires, and maximize fire fighter
safety by extending the distance needed to properly apply agent to the fire
using its pulse delivery technology.
This report describes a research effort that was accomplished to correct a safety deficiency with a Visual Approach Slope Indicator (VASI) system at the Pearson Field Airpark in Vancouver, Washington. During a recent inspection flight, the VASI system was found to be emitting signals that could potentially draw an approaching aircraft dangerously close to an obstruction near the final approach path. As a result, the system was shut down. Engineers from the Airport Technology Research and Development Branch visited the site to analyze the problem, collect data on the geometry of the obstruction, the baffles, and the general layout of the airport, and finally install and test the new baffles to make sure they operate properly. Engineers designed, constructed, and installed aluminum baffles that blocked the signal from the obstruction area, and provided a 2 degree margin of safety between the obstruction and the visible signal of the VASI.
Modification of Visual Approach Slope
Indicator Baffles at Pearson Field Airpark, Vancouver, WA
Paint markings on runways and taxiways are damaged from
ultraviolet rays, stained by aircraft fuel, and discolored. Glass coatings,
used as a sealant for the paint, have shown promise as a possible solution
to these problems.
This research was conducted to determine if polyester marking
material would be an acceptable addition to the existing paint materials
specified in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular
150/5370-10A Item P-620, Runway and Taxiway Painting. The polyester marking
material was applied on the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center at the FAA
ramp, Pangborne Road, and the Pavement Test Facility for an evaluation period of
1 year starting in August 2004. Three different types of pavement were used
during the tests: Hot-Mix Asphalt, Aged Portland Cement Concrete, and New
Portland Cement Concrete. The chromaticity, retro-reflectivity, baseline,
pull-off strength, and friction tests were performed on the polyester marking
Pavement markings must endure the harsh airport environment.
Standard waterborne, epoxy, methacrylate, and solvent base markings require
frequent repainting causing the life-cycle cost to increase significantly. An
elastomer material used on highways, called polyurea, has been identified as a
potential alternative to existing standard pavement marking materials.
This report describes the evaluation of L-853 cylindrical
retro-reflective markers that are used on airports to increase night
identification of runway edges, centerline, and taxiway edges. Approved
retro-reflective markers use either retro-reflective sheeting or tape, which are
mounted on plastic-molded material that are cylindrical or flat surfaces. The
minimum standard size for a cylinder-mounted marker is 96 square inches. This
evaluation was performed to determine if increasing the standard size to 200
square inches would improve the markers’ conspicuity to aircraft and ground
vehicles and to determine if the location of aircraft-mounted landing lamps have
any effect on the visibility of the retro-reflective markers. Based on the
results, it was determined that 96-square inch retro-reflective material is
adequate. The results of this study also indicated that aircraft landing lamps
mounted closer to the observer’s eye gave the best visibility of the
retro-reflective markers, whereas the aircraft landing lamps mounted at the wing
tips gave the worst visibility of the retro-reflective markers.
Taxiways that go around the runway ends are called End Around Taxiways, or
EAT. Airports with dual and triple parallel runways can have increased
operational capacity and reduced risk of potential runway incursions when
EATs are created. EAT visual screens are generally required at the end of
the operational runway to clearly indicate to the pilot if an aircraft is in
the process of crossing the active runway, or if they are on the EAT. This
report describes the best design characteristics of an EAT visual screens.
It was determined that a 13 foot high screen consisting of engineering grade
reflective material with 12 foot wide red and white diagonal striping proved
most effective, and that the use of the reflective material prevents the
need for additional external lighting to enhance screen visibility at night.
Runway Guard Lights
(RGL), both in-pavement and elevated, when used in conjunction with FAA
approved illuminated signs and painted hold position markings, have
successfully reduced the potential for runway incursions at major air
carrier airports. RGLs have not yet, however, been recommended for use at
general aviation (GA) airports.
Evaluation of Runway Guard Light Configurations at
North Las Vegas Airport
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular (AC)
150/5340-30, “Design and Installation Details of Airport Visual Aids,” requires
that properly installed taxiway centerline fixtures should, when placed on a
taxiway curve with radii between 75 and 399 feet, maintain that three lights are
visible from the cockpit, provide information to the pilot on how sharp the
curve is, provide the pilot with an indication of how far off the taxiway
centerline the aircraft might be, and visually look the same from both
directions of travel.
Authors: James W. Patterson
describes a research effort that was conducted to investigate and validate
the feasibility of installing alternating yellow and green taxiway
centerline lights on taxiway segments located between the runway hold
position markings and the runway centerline in the direction approaching the
runway. This lighting configuration would serve as a visual cue to pilots
and vehicle drivers that they are about to enter the runway
environment/runway safety area (RSA). The objective of this research effort
was to determine how the proposed lighting configuration would appear to
pilots approaching the hold line (runway environment/RSA), to determine if
presently available lighting fixtures are adequate for the purpose, if
present spacing standards are adequate for the purpose, if pilots interpret
the purpose of the new configuration correctly, and the cost factors
involved in making such a change.
Wind turbines are
being utilized in 32 of the 50 states in America, with predictions that
turbines will at one time be constructed in all 50 states. The U.S.
Department of Energy has mandated that renewable energy sources, such as
wind turbines, will provide six percent of the nation’s electricity by the
year 2020. With mandates such as this, it is almost certain that the country
will see the rate of turbine construction greatly increase over the next
Development of Obstruction Lighting Standards for Wind
A new liquid
fire-extinguishing agent for combustible metal fires was evaluated. Aircraft
rescue fire fighters may confront metal fires, such as magnesium and
titanium, in aircraft brake assemblies, landing gear components, aircraft
engines, and other structural components of aircraft. A combustible metal on
fire could be a possible ignition source or a continuing source of ignition
in an aircraft fire. The standard method for extinguishing combustible metal
fires consists of using sodium chloride dry powder to smother the burning
Evaluation of New Liquid Fire-Extinguishing Agent for
Combustible Metal Fires
New tools like the high reach
extendable turret (HRET) and aircraft skin penetrating nozzle are innovative
devices that could potentially increase survivability of aircraft accidents,
extinguish fires faster, and save lives. The evaluation was to determine the
capabilities of a HRET, compare the results with the capabilities of a
United States Air Force’s (USAF) P-19 Crash Truck, and to gain insight into
the complexities of interior cabin suppression and extinguishment in a
variety of possible postcrash aircraft fire scenarios. The high reach
extendable turret and aircraft skin penetrating nozzle performed
extraordinarily well in both research efforts. The HRET proved to be
superior to the P-19 in its ability to use various attack modes, increased
accuracy, faster extinguishing times, and safer delivery system. The
penetrator nozzle demonstrated the control, suppression, and elimination of
interior fire dynamics, fire growth, and reduced high interior cabin fire
temperatures, including the ability to provide rapid positive pressure smoke
ventilation. The HRET and penetrator nozzle presented new tools that will
increase cabin survivability.
The medium intensity approach
lighting system with runway alignment indicator lights operating on runway
32 at the Acrata/Eureka Airport in McKinleyville, California, was causing a
severe glare hazard to motorists driving on a nearby highway that crossed
through the system, approximately 1400 feet from the end of the runway.
Engineers designed, developed, and constructed three different aluminum
baffles specifically for the situation at the airport. Ground and flight
evaluations were conducted to determine if the glare hazard had been
evaluated without effecting the usability of the lights for approaching
aircraft. The results of those evaluations have been released in the
following Technical Note.
Advances in firefighting
research have brought forth new concepts that have the potential for greatly
enhancing firefighting capabilities of airport fire fighters. The
following link to FAA Technical Note 05/18 describes research conducted to
evaluate various operating characteristics of a high-performance,
multiposition, bumper-mounted turret and compared those characteristics to a
The following link to FAA
Technical Note 05/10 describes a study to to evaluate taxiway edge fixtures
using light emitting diode (LED) technology to determine (1) if electrical
emission levels from these fixtures are sufficient to cause interference to
airfield circuits and warrant further investigation and (2) if there is a
need to change the certification requirements for these electrical
The following FAA Technical Note
describes the evaluation that was conducted to determine the effectiveness
and applicability of the LED configured in a linear array to enhance paint
markings on the airport surface, and to develop specifications and
certification procedures for these sources.
The following FAA Technical Note
describes the evaluation of in-pavement runway guard lights, which are a
series of alternate-flashing yellow, unidirectional in-pavement lighting
fixtures equally spaced along a runway holding position marking that are
only visible to aircraft approaching the hold position from the taxiway side
of the fixture.
The following report describes
an evaluation of the L-853 cylindrical retro-reflective markers that are
used on airports to increase night identification of runway edges,
centerline, and taxiway edges. The evaluation was performed to determine if
increasing the standard size would improve the markers' conspicuity to
aircraft and ground vehicles and to determine if the location of aircraft
mounted landing lamps have any effect on the visibility of the
The following report describes an
evaluation conducted to determine the feasibility of equipping airport
vehicles with supplemental warning beacons that would be illuminated only
when the vehicle is on an active runway, ...
The following document describes
the glass bead and waterborne paint research performed at the Technical Center.
The following document describes a test program to evaluate the
effectiveness of a low cost fire suppression system designed specifically
for combating aircraft fires at small airports.
The following document describes the research performed concerning when to
repaint airport pavement markings.
Evaluation of Retrofit ARFF Vehicle Suspension Enhancement to Reduce
Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Training Fuel Comparative Evaluation
Temporary Installation Methods for
Rescue and Firefighting Research Program
In-Pavement Light Emitting Diode (LED) Light Strip Evaluation
Evaluation of a Prototype Advanced Taxiway Guidance System
Evaluation of Conductivity Meters for
Evaluation of Wind-Loading on Airport Signs
Evaluation of Alternative Pavement Marking Materials
Airport Pavement Marking Evaluation for Reducing
Reduced Approach Lighting Systems
(ALS) Configuration Simulation Testing
This report describes evaluation of two candidate agents tested by the FAA as alternatives to Halon 1211. These agents were Halotron I and perfluorohexane. The objective was to evaluate these extinguishing agents in terms of extinguishment time and quantity of agent required to extinguish unique flight line type test fires. The test results showed that Halotron I required an average of 1 1/2 pounds of agent to perform the same extinguishment as 1 pound of Halon 1211.
Last Update: 02/20/14