Woolpert recently conducted nighttime unmanned aircraft system operations at McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, Tenn., under its Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 Waiver 107.29. Woolpert also has earned the first of its kind FAA Class C airspace authorization to operate UAS anywhere on an airfield for Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) through the FAA Safety Risk Management process.
These clearances are the most recent received by Woolpert to deploy UAS safely and effectively to support and advance airport operations. Woolpert UAS Technology Manager and Team Leader Aaron Lawrence said this waiver and this authorization enable the firm to test strategies for providing perimeter surveillance at TYS and address wildlife management at SAV, respectively.
“Animal activity presents a threat to airport operations everywhere. Coyotes are always a problem, as are birds and deer, and as you move to different geographies you tend to see other things like gators,” Lawrence said. “By being able to provide surveillance around the clock, we increase airport safety.”
Woolpert has been working with SAV for multiple years on integrating UAS into airport operations. The firm recently underwent an FAA Safety Risk Management panel to receive the Class C authorization. Lawrence said that, to his knowledge, this is the first approval of its kind granted by the FAA.
“During the review, we shared our documented aviation and UAS procedures and experience and our history working with SAV, whose operations officials have been collaborating and supporting this process,” Lawrence said. “We have logged more than 1,000 hours with UAS in controlled airspace at airports, mostly flown in B, C and D airspace. We are setting the precedent for flying UAS at airports and ensuring this valuable tool advances operations safely.”