Geospatial data supporting airports, investment strategy for airport recovery, lower airport operations volume, halted international flights, a health bill for domestic air travel, aviation events, a criminal conviction for unsafe drone operation, a B-21 update, and the outlook for New Zealand.
Bob Vander Meer is vice president of business development for NV5 Geospatial (Powered by Quantum Spatial). He has over 20 years of business development and management experience in the geospatial industry, and serves within NV5 Geospatial’s public market sector, leading the business development activities with state, municipal, and county government agencies.
Bob has provided executive support to over 700 airport projects under FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-16A, -17C, -18B guidelines. He has managed all internal project activities, including overseeing that the airport ground surveys and collection of aerial imagery are performed in accordance with the appropriate FAA specifications.
We dive into how geospatial data for airports are collected, analyzed, and used for applications like obstruction analysis, airport mapping, and even pavement management and crack assessment, as well as interior mapping. Bob explains the sensors used and the aircraft that carry them.
Mark Stokes, the Business Unit Manager – SmartSuite at Brock Solutions, notes that “Many in the aviation industry went from full speed ahead, managing the absolute peak of volumes, to a near dead stop.” As business returns, “airlines and airports are likely going to not bring back as many people as they had before.” But the pre-pandemic situation with “unmanageable volumes of traffic” tells us “what’s going to happen to our systems and our passenger flows and our facilities when those volumes come back. Now, we have some time to prepare and to adjust the course so we can avoid those problems we were inevitably facing in 2019.”
O’Hare reported a 41% drop in arrivals and departures for 2020 compared to 2019. Atlanta experienced a 39% drop and LAX saw a 45% decline. Chicago’s Midway a 35% drop in flight operations.
The Dutch government announced they will require all travelers, including crew, to get both a PCR test and an antigen test before flying to that country. In response, KLM stopped operating all its intercontinental flights and some of its European services on January 22, 2021. A KLM spokesperson said, “We cannot run the risk of our staff being stranded somewhere. This is why we are stopping all intercontinental flights from Friday & all flights to European destinations where crew members have to spend the night.”
But what about cargo and repatriation flights, and the impact on vaccine shipments? Well, now aircrew will be exempt from the rules if, either they do not leave the aircraft position upon reaching their destination, or if a PCR test is done within 12 hours before the flight, then the rapid test is not required. Crew may also operate within a “72-hour bubble,” allowing them to isolate in a hotel.
Building on Biden Exec. Order, Senators Markey and Blumenthal, Rep. Lynch Call for Coronavirus Task Force on Aviation Health and Safety
President Biden signed an executive order that calls for interagency cooperation to develop recommendations for national public health measures for domestic travel. A press release from Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) announced the reintroduction of the Ensuring Health Safety in the Skies Act of 2020, which passed the Senate unanimously last year.
The Act [PDF] “would require the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation to establish a joint task force on air travel during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency. The task force would consist of representatives from various federal agencies, and would develop policy recommendations to address issues related to airport and air carrier operations during and after the coronavirus pandemic.”
This task force would be advised by a joint federal advisory committee to include aviation industry, security, and public health experts. It would clearly establish the risks that must be addressed, the stakeholders that should be involved, and the process for developing national standards for safe air travel.
Lufthansa announced starting February 1st, 2021, they will stop accepting cloth masks and all passengers will have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask, (also known as KN95/N95 masks). Masks with valves will not be allowed. Lufthansa Group member Austrian Airlines says that surgical masks will not be allowed. Only FFP2 masks.
A 22 year old man crashed the drone he was operating into a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter in September, 2020. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 12, 2021. The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the LAPD, with the assistance of the FAA.
National Aviation Hall of Fame’s Spirit of Flight Award
The National Aviation Hall of Fame’s 2020 Milton Caniff Spirit of Flight Award to be presented to the American Rocketry Challenge. The Spirit of Flight Award is presented to recognize and reward aerospace organizations that exemplify the positive utilization of aviation for charitable purposes or for service to mankind.