Emerging Issues for ACRP:
Impacts of Emerging and Innovative Technologies


Background Statement

Near-term technology advancements could offer efficiency and effectiveness improvement to the airport operation. Long-term, technology will have an even greater impact upon airports and the aviation system. Technology will likely also have a counter impact by disrupting current operations, behavior, or traditional processes. Moreover, the technology changes are largely coming from outside the airport and independent of the airport. The operational and social implications of many of these technologies are relevant to the airport/aviation system because society will have expectations for how it will meet societal needs and demand its implementation.

Research in this topic is needed because the list of potential threats or problems from ignoring emerging technology is growing and will soon surpass the list of potential opportunities and solutions it offers. Therefore, airports need to prepare for both eventualities. Airports must address the Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of emerging technologies or risk obsolescence in the future.

Research Ideas

  • A periodic (biennial) transformative technology report to the airport industry.
  • Define impact of technology on future facilities, workforce, operations, and the entire system.
  • Autonomous ground transportation vehicles for passenger and delivery services transport to/from the airport.
  • UAS for airfield inspection or project delivery.
  • How can airports adapt outside innovative technologies for airport use and prepare for future emergence of technologies? (Proactive preparation for future implementation).
  • Virtual reality for facility design, airfield and equipment service, maintenance, and inspection.
  • Define needs or potential solutions that technology might offer to airport operations and/or functions. The private-sector can develop technology applications and bring them to the market to meet these needs.
  • Passenger use of seamless automated baggage check-in and delivery or an automated boarding pass.
  • Airport workforce use of technology to accommodate their expectations, facilitate training and development, provide for rapid input and feedback.
  • What is the impact of rapidly evolving technology on regulations?
  • How can the safety/security of the airside be addressed by technology?
  • What are the future TSA screening technologies and how will they impact airport facilities and operations?
  • What are the future airline passenger processing technologies and how will they impact airport facilities and operations?
  • What technology are retail operators using to speed transaction processing, customize services, and improve customer experience? (such as Amazon GO) How can airports collaborate with those operators to use this data/technology to improve the customer experience in the terminal as a whole?
  • How will technology improve and/or enhance project delivery, building information modeling, and operations/maintenance?
  • What are the implications of big data? What are the opportunities and threats.
  • Cyber security and blockchain definition and education for airports.
  • How will bitcoin Impact airports? What are the implications?
  • How can airports use technology to manage behavior and recognize individual expectations so services can be customized?
  • How far local govts, State DOTs or airports can/should engage into new techs and support their development? Lessons learned in the U.S. and abroad? E.g. Space Florida, NCDOT and UAS, AVINOR (Norway) and electric aviation, Groupe ADP (France) investing in various new tech and big data startups, etc.


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