Month: May 2022

What Makes it Military: A Note on Joint-Use & Shared-Use Airports

C-17 Featured Image

Hoyle Tanner aviation professionals have worked on hundreds of projects in New England and Florida. What we know about airports is that even though their components are similar, each has its own unique fleet mix, operations, management and facility needs. For example, climate will play a significant role in the design of a Florida versus New England airport. There are other differences between airports that most people don’t think about: how military operations work at airports, and what types of airports can even support those operations.

The Hoyle Tanner engineering team provided the design and construction management services for the 2020 Reconstruction of the Runway at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, a shared use airport. Photo taken during the construction phase.

Defining Different Airports

There are three kinds of military airports, a) Military only, b) joint-use, and c) shared-use. Military only is meant for Department of Defense use only, and no civilian aircraft utilize the airfield. A joint-use airport is a military airport that arranges for civilian access to the airfield. There are 21 joint-use airports in the United States. A shared-use airport is owned by the US government and co-located with an airport specified under Federal Code of Regulations 139.1(a). At shared-use airports, portions of the airfields are shared by both parties.

How the Different Types Came to Be: The War Era

As of 2020, there were 65 shared-use airports across the nation. A few in New England include Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, Bangor International Airport, Burlington International Airport, Bradley International Airport, Westfield Barnes Regional Airport, and Quonset State Airport. Not surprisingly, many of these airports can trace their roots back to their military ownership during World War II. Through the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND) appropriation, the Secretary of War and Commerce and the Secretary of the Navy enabled land acquisition to build 986 airports throughout the United States. Many of these airports still exist where you live, as after the war many were declared surplus, and transferred to municipalities for civilian use. Additionally, since 1977, Congress has periodically granted temporary authorities known as Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) on five occasions. As a result, more than 350 military installations have been closed, some remaining as shared-use airports.

An example of a military taxiway design with additional FAA pavement and geometry shown in yellow cross hatched areas.

Design Standards

There are different design standards in terms of maintaining the infrastructure on these shared use airport facilities. For instance, the US Air Force has different geometric layout criteria for runways, taxiways and aprons, and safety-critical areas. Additionally, there are different pavement design methods and ways to determine the required runway length for both civilian and military aircraft. An example of a differing design standard is shown in the accompanying colored graphic. In terms of runway thickness, it is interesting to note that pavement strength at all types of airports is a function of underlying pavement materials, aircraft fleet mix, number of operations, aircraft weight, and gear configuration. Given all these variables, a runway’s pavement thickness is not always driven by the biggest and heaviest aircraft, and therefore not all military airfields require the longest or thickest runways. If you have flown into a joint-use or shared-use runway, you will note that the military has typically required some (if not all) of their runway to be made of concrete instead of asphalt; a difference in material choice driven by design standards, hot weather conditions, and in some cases, availability of one material over another.

Transitioning from One Type of Airport to Another

To help transition from a military base and airfield to a civilian airport, FAA administers a separate funding program called the Military Airports Program (MAP). This program assists new sponsors in converting former military airfields to public use to add system capacity and reduce congestion at existing airports experiencing significant delays. Both the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease and Brunswick Executive Airport have been recipients of MAP funding in recent past. Being in MAP affords an airport sponsor an additional stream of funding through FAA that can be used in addition to the traditional FAA funding avenues. In the cases of Portsmouth International Airport at Pease and Brunswick Executive Airports, this program has been very successful in replacing the lost jobs, businesses, and reduces the impact to the local economy that occurred when Pease Air Force Base and Brunswick Naval Air Station closed.

Air Force C-17 taking off at Burlington International Airport, with concrete apron construction in the foreground.

Experience all Around

Hoyle Tanner has developed a strong history of planning and designing projects at six current shared-use airports, one joint-use airport, two in the MAP program, and three former military airfields closed due to BRAC. If you want to learn more about the differences between joint-use and shared-use airports, please contact any of these experts within our company: Our subject matter expert for the MAP program is Suzanne Sheppard, PE, and for shared-use airports Nils Gonzalez, PE and Tim Audet, PE. We recognize the value of airports in our communities, especially when the military use and mission enhances the infrastructure, supporting airfield services and overall value of civilian use.

Obstruction Analysis: Utilizing Drones to Save Airports Time & Money

Benjamin Franklin once said, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” These words from the Founding Father shine a light on the importance of saving as much money as possible. Saving time and money is a key principle in aviation as every airport’s goal is to be economically self-sufficient. Approximately 3,310 airports throughout the United States receive money through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). While this funding is available to every airport listed in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), it is often scarce for smaller General Aviation airports. Therefore, airports must prioritize their future projects and stretch every funding dollar they receive. One of the many ways that Hoyle Tanner helps airports maximize their financial investment when conducting obstruction analysis studies is by utilizing our in-house unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones.

An obstruction analysis study examines the airspace surrounding an airport for obstructions that penetrate protective surfaces. 14 CFR Part 77 and Terminal Instrument Procedures (TERPS) enhance the safe operations of an aircraft through the creation of approach and departure slopes that limit the height of objects off the runway ends. Obstructions are any object that penetrates one of the slopes and could be either a fence, tree, building or antenna. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) formally recognizes obstructions that have been recorded during an aeronautical survey that complies with FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-18B, General Guidance and Specifications for Submission of Aeronautical Surveys to NGS. An 18B obstruction survey is conducted with a fixed-wing aircraft and covers an extensive area surrounding the airport. These surveys are thorough and examine obstructions to all applicable Part 77 Surfaces and TERPS.

Due to the requirements for an 18B aeronautical survey, the associated costs can run upwards of $60,000 per survey. UAS technology has allowed Hoyle Tanner to conduct high-quality obstruction analysis studies for a fraction of the cost. Due to current standards set by FAA, an aeronautical survey conducted by a drone does not replace an 18B survey. It does, however, determine if there are any outstanding issues prior to conducting the more expensive study. There are scenarios where utilizing a UAS obstruction analysis may be more practical, cost-effective, and will prevent an airport from having to conduct multiple 18B surveys.

The most recent obstruction analysis conducted by Hoyle Tanner was at the Millinocket Municipal Airport (MLT). This General Aviation airport is looking to extend its primary runway in the near future. As a result of the extension, the starting location of Part 77 and TERPS protective slopes will change to accommodate the new runway end. Hoyle Tanner is able to collect data from the UAS and create a 3D model of the airport. The model can be used to analyze existing and future protective surfaces, as well as generate a list of penetrating obstructions. From here, the airport can determine which obstructions need to be removed and if there are any easements or property that must be acquired. Once the obstructions are cleared, the airport can conduct an 18B aeronautical survey to officially determine if all existing and future TERPS and Part 77 surfaces are clear of obstructions and can initiate the development of future approach and departures. Airports like MLT save time and money with a UAS obstruction analysis by only needing to conduct a single 18B survey throughout the process of a major project, such as a runway extension.

Hoyle Tanner provides sUAS services that range from airport obstruction analysis, to bridge inspections, to roadway data collection, to earthwork quantity measurement. Other services that can be offered include wildlife hazard identification, security fence monitoring, roof inspection, traffic monitoring, post flood stormwater data collection, and other infrastructure inspection and analysis as-needed. If you need help with obstruction analysis questions or have other concerns, reach out to me, Schuyler Lamoureux or Patrick Sharrow, AAE.

Employee Spotlight: Brian Nichols

Brian Nichols and his family posing in front of a green landscape

Brian Nichols, Senior CADD Designer & Civil War Enthusiast

1. What drew you to Hoyle Tanner?

Hoyle Tanner is a large enough firm to offer stability, yet small enough to be able to know everyone. I came from MaineDOT so I had also formed working relationships with several Hoyle Tanner employees. Being able to get straightforward information about a firm, both good and bad, from someone I trusted was probably the only way I would have had the confidence to move out of my comfort zone.

2. What’s something invaluable you’ve learned here?

Ask for help when you need it. 

3. What’s your favorite time of year to work at Hoyle Tanner & why?

Springtime is my favorite time of year period. Thanks to Hoyle Tanner’s generous telework policy,  I can enjoy springtime all the more. It’s not uncommon for me to take my lunch break outside enjoying a “picnic” lunch with my family or picking away at some yard work project.

4. What’s the coolest thing you are working on & why?

So many of the bridge projects that I work on are in areas in which I frequently travel. Being able to show my family is pretty cool. My kids refer to many of them as “Daddy’s Bridge” which likely under-represents the level of involvement of other team-members.

5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this week?

I woke up with a roof over my head and a family who loves me.

6. How many different states have you lived in?

Just Maine. In fact I live in the house I grew up in so the furthest move I’ve made has been to change bedrooms.

7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

Grilled cheese sandwiches.

8. What kind of pet do you have and how did you choose to name it?

A cat, Clarabelle. My wife named it.

9. What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?

In addition to a few Civil War veterans of note, Jefferson, Maine was also the home of Don Bowman, who played minor league baseball for several seasons back in the late 40s/early 50s and was also one of the five bus drivers in my grade school.

10. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

Become a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg. Visit every Presidential gravesite (14 down, 25 to go). Build my dream HO scale model train railroad layout.

11. Name three items you’d take with you to a desert island.

My Bible, a fishing pole, and a derelict antique tractor to tinker on.

12. What characteristic do you admire most in others?

Humility and honesty.

13. How old is the oldest item in your closet?

I’m sure I have some neckties from high school that probably would be put to better use staking tomato plants.

14. Words to live by? Favorite quote? Why?

“If you need a machine and don’t buy it, you pay for it without getting it.” ~ Henry Ford. We may not have literal machinery in the sense that Henry Ford was referring to. Our “machinery” looks like updated skills, newer methods, current software, etc. Investing in it is costly but not investing in it is more so.

15. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Locomotive Engineer

16. If you were to skydive from an airplane what would you think about on the way down?

Did I remember everything on the “Things to do before landing” checklist? Please note that skydiving is NOT on my bucket list.