US: NARTP Awarded $2.25 Million to Advance Airfield Automation

The National Aerospace Research & Technology Park (NARTP) in New Jersey has been awarded 2.249 million USD to develop airfield automation technologies that can reduce labour-intensive tasks at airports.

This congressionally directed spending request was sponsored by Senators Menendez and Booker.

Initially, the Airfield Autonomy Initiative (AAI) will focus on automated lawn mowing, foreign object debris sweeping and perimeter patrol.

Such technology aims to enable more efficient and reliable ground operations and hopes to increase the safety of workers, equipment and aircraft.

Airfield Automation
NARTP is located on a 58-acre site adjoining the Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center

To deliver these projects, NARTP will work with the USAF Air Mobility Command, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC), the Atlantic County Economic Alliance and private industry.

Howard J. Kyle, NARTP President/CEO said:

“We are extremely grateful to Senators Menendez and Booker for their support for both this project and the NARTP.

“The goal is for all partners to build relationships that ensure the United States remains the leader in aviation while providing the safest, most efficient aerospace systems in the world. It will also help overcome personnel shortages that impede both the military and civilian operators while enabling operators to focus on more critical, hands-on tasks that boost aircraft turnaround times.”

The AAI project will follow a multiphase process that prioritises safety by starting with devices that do not directly interact with operational aircraft, such as automated lawnmowers.

Gradually, the project will then advance to focus on devices that come into full contact with aircraft.

Mark Loeben, Chairman, NARTP Board of Directors and a retired USAF Major General and current American Airlines Captain, said:

“Developing and successfully demonstrating vigorous C2 systems that can safely operate, track, coordinate, communicate, navigate, and deconflict multiple types of automated devices from a variety of technology providers is a critical step forward in increasing airport efficiencies and reducing costs.

“AAI technologies are expected to grow into a multimillion-dollar industry with worldwide demand. I am pleased that the NARTP will be helping to facilitate their development for both military and civilian airfields.”

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