UAS Integration at Airports

UAS Integration at Airports 

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are among the most well-known emerging entrants, increasingly popular in recreational, commercial, and public safety settings. ATR is collaborating with the FAA’s Office of Airports to support the reliable, safe, and effective integration of small UAS (sUAS) into the airport environment.

Why now? New technology has made sUAS suitable for airfield activities that are usually done on the ground. Today’s sUAS can execute complex flight patterns with minimal input from remote pilots, boast safety features like automatic return functionality and collision-avoidance, and have high-resolution cameras and other advanced sensors that provide real-time data at previously impossible heights, distances, and angles.


Which airport applications is ATR exploring? ATR’s work aims to safely and effectively integrate sUAS into the airport environment. This graphic illustrates the core sUAS airfield applications that are being explored. 

This is an illustrated aerial view of an airport. There are 8 drones around the airport that show the sUAS use cases: Construction Monitoring; Perimeter Surveillance; Airfield Pavement Inspections; Lighting Inspections; Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Detection; ARFF Situational Awareness; Obstruction Surveys; Wildlife Hazard Management

Why use UAS to supplement current ground-based technologies and methods? Ground-based operational methods can be expensive, time consuming, and labor intensive. Using sUAS to conduct operations will help airports collect more accurate, meaningful data quickly and potentially at a lower cost.


What’s next? ATR will continue to collaborate with airport operators, vendors, and other stakeholders to identify best practices, generate concepts of operation for these applications, and conduct research to inform related FAA guidance documentation.


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