Airport Cooperative Research Program
The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) was authorized in December 2003 as part of the Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act. In October 2005, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) executed a contract with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, acting through its Transportation Research Board (TRB), to serve as manager of the ACRP. Program oversight and governance are provided by representatives of airport operating agencies. The ACRP Oversight Committee met and selected projects for the first program in January 2006.
NEED AND PURPOSE
Airports are vital national resources. They serve key roles in the transportation of people and goods and in regional, national, and international commerce. They are where the nation's aviation system connects with other modes of transportation and where federal responsibility for managing and regulating air traffic operations intersects with the role of state and local governments that own and operate most airports. Research is necessary to solve common operating problems, to adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and to introduce innovations into the airport industry.
The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) carries out applied research on problems that are shared by airport operating agencies and are not being adequately addressed by existing federal research programs. The need for ACRP was identified in TRB Special Report 272: Airport Research Needs: Cooperative Solutions (March 2003), based on a study sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The ACRP undertakes research and other technical activities in a variety of airport subject areas including design, construction, maintenance, operations, safety, security, policy, planning, human resources, and administration.
The primary participants in the ACRP are (a) the ACRP Oversight Committee (AOC), an independent governing board appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation in October 2005, with representation from airport operating agencies, other stakeholder, and relevant industry organizations such as the Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the Airport Consultants Council (ACC), and the Airlines for America (A4A) as vital links to the airport community; (b) the Transportation Research Board (TRB) as program manager and secretariat for the governing board; and (c) the FAA as program sponsor. The ACRP benefits from the cooperation and participation of airport professionals, state and local government officials, equipment and service suppliers, other airport users, and research organizations. Each of these participants has different interests and responsibilities, and each is an integral part of this cooperative research effort.
SELECTION OF RESEARCH
Research problem statements for ACRP are solicited periodically but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the AOC to formulate the research program by identifying the highest priority projects and defining funding levels and expected products.
The ACRP is managed using procedures modeled after those used by TRB in managing the National Cooperative Highway Research Program and the Transit Cooperative Research Program. Day-to-day program management includes the following tasks:
- Assisting the AOC in identifying and prioritizing research needs;
- Appointing and coordinating expert technical panels to guide research projects;
- Developing and distributing Requests for Proposals (RFPs);
- Processing and evaluating proposals to select the best qualified research agencies;
- Executing contracts with the selected researchers;
- Guiding the research;
- Reviewing research reports;
- Publishing and disseminating research reports; and
- Promoting the application of research results.
Each project is assigned to a panel, appointed by the Transportation Research Board, which provides technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. Panels include experienced practitioners and research specialists; heavy emphasis is placed on including members representing the intended users of the research products. The panels prepare project statements and select contractors based on evaluation of the proposals received; they guide the projects and review the reports. As in other TRB activities, ACRP project panel members serve voluntarily without compensation.
SELECTION OF CONTRACTORS
The process for selecting ACRP researchers has been used by TRB in managing cooperative research programs for more than 40 years. This open process allows all potential research agencies to compete on the basis of technical merit, and ensures that all proposers are treated fairly and that the program has access to the best talent available for each project. Proposals from potential research contractors are evaluated by the project panels. The evaluation considers the following: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related areas; (4) the plan for promoting application of results; (5) the proposer's plan for participation of Disadvantaged Business Enterprises--small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women; and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Selected agencies perform research under contract to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, guided by the Procedural Manual for Contractors Conducting Research in the Transportation Research Board's Cooperative Research Programs. Guidance for the preparation of final reports for submission to the ACRP can be found in Chapter 5 of the Procedural Manual.
The Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act authorized $10 million per year for the ACRP in Fiscal Years 2004 through 2007. Given the timing of the approval of the Act vis-à-vis the Fiscal Year 2004 appropriation process, no funds were appropriated for the program in Fiscal Year 2004. ACRP funding is determined by the annual federal appropriation process. The FAA provided a total of $13 million to carry out research in fiscal years 2005 and 2006; $10 million for fiscal year 2007 through 2010; and $15 million for fiscal year 2011 and thereafter.
Primary emphasis is placed on disseminating ACRP results to the intended end-users of the research: airport operating agencies, service providers, and suppliers. The relevant industry associations will play key roles in making research information available through their committee structures. The ACRP will produce a series of research reports for use by airport operators, local agencies, FAA, and other interested parties; industry associations may arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are implemented by airport-industry practitioners.
The ACRP started in October 2005, when a Memorandum of Agreement was executed by the cooperating parties, and FAA provided funds to begin the program. The ACRP Oversight Committee (AOC) was appointed by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and held its first meeting in January 2006 to establish operating procedures for the ACRP and to prioritize research needs. The AOC has met in January and July of each year since established. As of April 1, 2016, 470 ACRP studies have been authorized.
The ACRP undertakes research and other technical activities in a variety of airport-related areas, including operations, design, construction, engineering, maintenance, human resources, administration, policy, planning, environment, safety, and security. Problem statements in all of these areas may be submitted to ACRP by anyone at any time. In addition to the above general call for problem statements, ACRP RRD 5: Current and Emerging Issues Facing the Airport Industry compiles a list of 58 current and emerging issues facing the airport industry in 2010 and has since been updated by ACRP RRD 20: Taking Inventory of ACRP Research and the Next Challenges Facing the Airport Industry. Both publications are designed to represent the program’s strategy of matching research initiatives to current and emerging airport challenges. Problem statements submitted should identify the research topic addressed in RRD 5 or 20, if related.
Specific problem statements are requested where ACRP research can advance the airport industry’s knowledge of and effective preparation for a challenging and yet uncertain future.
The deadline for problem statements that will be considered for inclusion in the each Fiscal Year program is March 20th. Any Problem Statements received after that date will be included in the next available project selection process. It should be understood that problem statements are not proposals to conduct the research but are used to identify potential research needs only. Problem statements selected by the ACRP Oversight Committee will be the basis for Requests for Proposals that will be issued by TRB and used to select contractors based on competitive proposals. If you have a research need that you would like to submit for consideration, we request that you describe it in accordance with the Problem Statement Outline and submit it electronically by e-mail to ACRP@NAS.EDU.
Our preference is for you to include the statement in Microsoft Word format as an attachment to an e-mail message. The problem statement may also be submitted in the text of an e-mail message. Please note that problem statements need not be lengthy; 1-2 pages should be sufficient to describe the research topic in the requested format.
To submit a research problem statement or to request further information on ACRP, email or call:
Michael R. Salamone, Manager
Airport Cooperative Research Program
Transportation Research Board