In the Know on the AOA

New technologies enhance situational awareness and provide a more comprehensive and intelligent view of the AOA


The asset management, maintenance management, and work order management lifecycle of being able to do inspections in the field and conduct real-time communication of where there may be a maintenance or safety issue, and being able to feed that information to somebody who can take care of the issue is a huge need for airports, he relates.

There are many airports that do not have a wireless network on the airfield and are relying on radio and cellular communication that isn’t able to feed a large bandwidth of information, says Ricketson. “As airports like Atlanta and others start to install wireless on the airfield, you can start to utilize the network and perform real-time mapping with mobile devices.”

The First Steps

When embarking on an eALP initiative, first and foremost, it’s good to have a plan in place, and to know what data to collect and how to collect it.

“For us, the plan has been imperative … it has helped us focus on how we are going to proceed in a very methodical fashion,” explains Bartholomew. “It’s important to be aware of all of the types of systems and technology assets that are available.

“It is a large endeavor; it requires hiring an aerial photography firm, hiring surveyors, putting the data in a format that meets the FAA advisory circulars, performing all of the quality control checks, and then pushing that data to FAA to get an approved eALP.

Says Ricketson, “I think eventually every airport will have an eALP; that is certainly the FAA’s goal.” FAA intends to have Part 139 airports completed in the next five to ten years, he adds.

Time And Cost

For airports with limited resources, mobile technology can help, says Ricketson. “There are already folks who have eyes on a lot of these assets, whether it’s airfield lighting or pavement, if you can enable those folks with a mobile device, they can not only use it to help them find the light that went out last night, but also to help keep data maintained and fresh.”

From start to finish, the FLL eALP took a little more than a year and a half to complete. The cost has been negligible, relates Bartholomew. “FAA has provided essentially a roadmap on how to collect GIS data … we decided to write that into our specifications for our new airfield, and we also added in our existing airfield to that,” he adds.

“All the data that is being required for the eALP is also required for FAA’s runway template action (RTAP) plan process for the new runway. Because we had to collect it anyway, we decided to collect it so that it meets the advisory circular standards. So we built an eALP out of information that we had to gather anyway.”

Woolpert is currently finishing up eALP projects in Denver and Tulsa, are two-thirds the way through San Francisco, and is a sub-consultant on the project in Orlando. “We are doing this at probably well over 25 airports right now,” says Ricketson.

Regarding other benefits, something FLL plans on using its eALP for is warranty management, so that if a portion of pavement cracks after six months, the airport can get the exact location and connect that with its capital improvement management system so it knows who did the work and when … and can then go back in and forensically evaluate the cause.

On safety, Ricketson comments, “If you think about safety management systems (SMS) and the whole risk assessment part of that, through the tracking of incidents, you might see some common issues that are reoccurring in the same location.”

In terms of cost, it really depends, he relates. “In any of these implementations, whether it’s GIS, or an asset management system … data is 65 percent of the cost,” says Ricketson. “When you start to look at eALPs, numbers that have been kicked around is on the order of $100,000 per runway end to start from scratch.

“But, the ‘it depends’ comes into play where you might have a GA airport with four runway ends, but it’s not a complex airfield. So the GA runway end figure may be significantly less than $100,000, and the large commercial may be higher, depending on the complexity of the airfield.”

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