Sustainability & Resiliency

Sustainability & Resiliency



The FAA’s Airport Technology Research & Development Branch (ATR) helps advance innovative practices and technologies that improve the sustainability and resilience of airports. ATR is researching how to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. Our team is hard at work addressing some of our toughest sustainability challenges, such as identifying eco-friendly foam to put out aircraft fires, and creating the airport infrastructure to support new eco-friendly aircraft.

Current Priority Research Areas


    • Fire-Extinguishing Foam Replacement:  ATR has been at the forefront of this key area of research, and is identifying an effective and eco-friendly fire-extinguishing foam formula to replace aqueous filmforming foam agents, or AFFF, which are now known to have negative environmental and human impacts. ATR will continue to look for fire-extinguishing foam products of the highest safety and sustainability standards.


    • Embodied Carbon: ATR has developed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) framework for airport pavements that aims to quantify environmental impact (including the impact of embodied carbon). New research is underway to create a web-based LCA tool to help airport owners compare environmental impact of different pavement types (e.g., asphalt, concrete) and construction techniques.


    • Resilient Airport Infrastructure: Research is underway to improve airport response to extreme weather events. ATR is developing tools to help FAA determine which airports are the most vulnerable to potential climate change impacts and recommendations focused on building resilient airport infrastructure systems.


    • Solar Lighting at Airports:  Solar lighting solutions offer an eco-friendly, economical alternative to high-cost electrical infrastructure for small, remote, and off-grid airports. ATR research in this area will lead to the development of federal guidance on decentralized solar lights at airports across the United States.


    • Sustainable Environmentally-Friendly Pavement: ATR is researching environmentally responsible pavement solutions for current and future airport needs. Along with research partners, ATR is assessing the impact of recycled materials in pavement – such as recycled asphalt pavement and warm mix asphalt (WMA), which lowers energy and emissions by approximately 20 percent.


    • Autonomous Vehicles at Airports: ATR’s research supports the development of best practices and guidance for the use of electronic powered autonomous vehicles at airports, such as autonomous mowing operations. This will lead to reduced emissions, increased efficiency, and improved safety.