Allocation of Airspace Cutouts to Enable Procedurally Separated Small Aircraft Operations in Terminal Areas
Author(s)Vascik, Parker D.; Hansman, R. John
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The current air traffic control (ATC) system is human-centric and voice-based. As a result, separation minima, controller workload, and radio frequency limitations may restrict the number of emerging unmanned aircraft system (UAS) or urban air mobility (UAM) operations that can occur within congested airspace. Limited ATC capacity will be especially impactful for UAS or UAM operations in proximity to large airports. One concept to reduce ATC limitations is to re-allocate airspace to develop procedurally separated corridors or regions where UAS and UAM aircraft may operate without receiving conventional ATC services. The creation of such “airspace cutouts” currently enables hundreds of daily small aircraft and helicopter operations in major U.S. cities without contributing to ATC workload. This paper develops an approach to analytically identify terminal airspace that is procedurally segregated from large aircraft operations and may be appropriate for new airspace cutouts. The magnitude of the benefit of allocating airspace in this manner is demonstrated at three major airports and in the 34 largest metropolitan areas of the United States.