Logo for 2020 Washington Post Top Workplaces - Volanno

Volanno Named 2020 Washington Post Top Workplace for Second Year in a Row

For the second year in a row, The Washington Post has recognized Volanno, one of the nation’s leading transportation technology government contracting firms, as a Top Workplace.

The Top Workplace award is based on anonymous third-party surveys, which measure workplace culture and management.

The award acknowledges how Volanno takes pride in its staff and has created an exceptional workplace which values the contribution and creativity of each employee.

“Volanno is honored to be named one of The Washington Post’s Top Workplaces of 2020,” said Dawn Amore, President, at Volanno. “We take pride in developing a workplace that celebrates diversity, commitment, and agility. Over the last 17 years, our focus has been on our employees because they are undoubtedly our most valuable asset.”

“This award is a testament to the commitment of every one of our employees, not only to the products and solutions that Volanno provides to our valued federal, state and local government customers but also to the environment we create,” said Damien Agostinelli, Executive Vice President of Volanno. “Over the last few months as we quickly transitioned to telework in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been amazed but not surprised at our employees’ commitment to stay connected and engaged with one another.”

Assisting FAA with development of the comprehensive inaugural UAS forecast

Background

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) activity throughout the United States and across the world has experienced an exponential growth over the past few years. As this trend continues, the number of commercial and other non-recreational UAS applications will continue to grow.1 Such applications will occur at various altitudes across several industry sectors. Furthermore, currently, pilots operating UAS vehicles are required to maintain a line of sight with the vehicle when it is in flight. While this requirement still applies to all recreational and almost all commercial pilots, some operations are taking place Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), wherein the operator controlling the UAS is in a remote location and away from the UAS unit. In BVLOS situations, the operator controls.

Many important considerations and risks arise with increased UAS operations, especially with BVLOS applications. Just within the past several months, we have seen multiple reports of UAS interfering with the manned air traffic and halting airport operations at Gatwick and other airports. This includes a more recent ‘Drone Swarm’ near Denver, Colorado area investigated by federal authorities. To address such situations, the industry needs proper operating guidelines, monitoring capabilities, and response strategies. To develop effective policies and strategies, we must better understand the forecast volume of UAS operations, and the engaged applications for vehicles.

FAA’s Office of Aviation Policy and Plans (APO) leads the effort to develop a comprehensive inaugural UAS forecast for the continental United States (CONUS). APO has engaged Volanno to research and assemble relevant data sources, assist with developing the forecast, and develop tools and methodologies to disseminate information within the FAA for UAS policy, strategy, and outreach development.

Our Observations – UAS Trends

According to FOIA records available on the FAA website, there are 1,005,333 recreational small UAS (sUAS) registrations as of Q4 2019. Furthermore, there are 368,775 Part 107 sUAS registrations as of Q4 2019.2 Additional analysis reveals that rate of part 107 registrations is increasing and will likely surpass the recreational registration rate in the very near future.3 Figure 1 and Figure 2 below illustrate the distribution of both recreational / Section 336 sUAS registrations, and part 107 sUAS registrations.

We have also analyzed other UAS information, which is currently confidential and therefore cannot be summarized in the post list this one. In summary, all analyses point to growing operations and the need for a scalable strategy to safety integrate and operate all UAS within the National Air Space (NAS).

Figure 1: Recreational / Section 336 UAS registrations by Zip code (Data source: FAA UAS registry; Data as of: Q4 2019) 4

Figure 2: Part 107 UAS registrations by Zip code (Data source: FAA UAS registry; Data as of: Q4 2019) 5

Project Goal

Volanno is helping APO attain its vision of publishing the UAS forecast in two major milestones. First, Volanno is developing an interactive platform that will help consolidate UAS related research and disseminate it to the internal FAA stakeholders, responsible for various aspects of UAS policy, registrations, certifications, monitoring, and operations. Second, we will leverage this platform to implement and integrate the UAS forecast model, developed by the APO, for the CONUS.

Data Sources

In order to attain the vision we must look both inward – within the FAA, and external – at third party entities to identify and assemble data sources relevant for use in the UAS forecast. There are a number of disparate data sources in consideration.

Below is a short-description of each data source show in Figure 3 above.

• Remote Pilot Certifications/Exam:6 Includes distribution of FAA certified remote pilots by geographical area since inception of the Remote Pilot Certification program. This data also includes information on exam takes and results. As mentioned in the FAA Aerospace Forecast, there are two categories of Remote Pilots. Remote Pilot only category includes remote pilots with Part 107 certification only. They do not hold any other pilot certificate. Part 61 and Remote pilot category that includes remote pilot that hold part 61 certificate as well.

• FAA UAS Registry:7 Includes registration details for both Part 107 and Recreational sUAS registrations. FAA requires registrants to register the equipment / UAS for hobbyist/recreational registration. For commercial/part 107 registration, however, the registrants are required to register the pilot and the equipment/UAS.

• FAA Administered Surveys:8 Include results from the 2018 Part 107 survey and 2019 recreational survey. Surveys are aimed are getting to know the UAS community, sUAS usage, and obtain feedback on FAA outreach and regulations. Various survey metrics are also publicly available on the FAA Aerospace Forecast website

• Waiver Database:9 Includes information on waiver types and applications made by various companies to the FAA. As represented by the chart on page 54 of the Aerospace Forecast, majority of the waivers are for night operations, followed by operations at higher altitudes.

• FAA UAS Forecast Models: Forecast models are currently in development and will be included in the platform when they are completed and the data is available for consumption.

• Industry Research: Includes relevant research from third party entities that are conducting research within the UAS domain. Examples of research reports we have worked with include, survey of certified sUAS remote pilots conducted by third party entity and 2019 World Civil Unmanned Aerial Systems Market Profile and Forecast reports.

• Large UAS:10 Includes information on types, operations and flight characteristics of Large UAS i.e. UAS > 55lbs.

• UAS Application Data and Expended/Non-Segregated Operations:11 These are future datasets that will provide more information on commercial applications including ecommerce deliveries and urban air mobility.

Agile Methodology

Volanno is leveraging agile methodology in platform development and forecast implementation. We are working closely with the client to identify needs, define requirements, set development priorities, and establish a feedback loop to obtain user input on the platform. Our goal is make this platform a ‘living plug-n-play platform’ that enables incorporation of additional UAS information as it becomes available.

AgileMethodology

Figure 4: Volanno Agile Development Approach

Current Challenges

Volanno has assisted APO in developing the Terminal Area Forecast for over 15 years. However developing a UAS forecast is challenging for the following fundamental reasons: Operational Data Availability and Data Quality and Consistency.

Operational Data Availability

There are two primary population segments using UAS: commercial users and hobbyist or recreational users. Commercial (Part 107) users utilize UAS for commercial applications such as real estate, agriculture and many others, and hobbyist or recreational users fly UAS for recreational purposes
Vehicles utilized for recreational purposes fit into the small UAS category (sUAS). Although the FAA requires recreational users to register their vehicles, the FAA does not require them to report flights, unless they are flying in a restricted airspace in which case they must obtain authorization to fly using the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program.12 There is no official channel or methodology to report the number and duration of recreational flights, as they happen outside of the restricted airspace.

Vehicles utilized for commercial purposes have some structure to report operations utilizing waivers and the LAANC program. However, these methods still do not allow visibility into UAS data such as frequency, duration, and types of operations performed by the vehicles.

Third party firms with technologies are attempting to collect operational data using radio technology and documenting UAS sightings. Such data is proprietary and is not available to the public or to federal agencies. This lack of data availability makes flight forecasting difficult.

Data Quality & Consistency:

It is imperative that data be of high quality for forecast modelling. As many data sources are new, there are variations in data elements and quality of these data sources. As such, a considerable amount of data preparation work is required before the data source extract is consumable. Ideally, it is better to connect to the data sources via APIs to remove any variability resulting from export and import procedures. However, the proprietary nature of the data sources result in a lack of APIs available for use. However, we continue to work with the data sets and setup repeatable and maintainable procedures that will minimize the effort required in preparing the data for visualizations and analysis.

Summary

UAS is a rapidly evolving industry sub-sector. There is continuous and rapid development in the space. The growth observed by UAS sub-sector as a whole within the past year is more than ever before. As more UAS’s take flight, a significant amount of data will be available. It is important that we work with our clients and remain poised to consume and ingest the forthcoming data for analysis.

FAA’s Remote ID Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is currently in the review and comment phase. Once finalized and implemented Remote ID will enable the UAS in flight to provide identification information for consumption by appropriate parties. This is similar to the information provided by aircrafts operating in the national air space. Obtaining such information will enable analyses leading to setup and monitoring of the Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management System (UTM) that can be scaled nationally and globally

1 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 41.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

2 Federal Aviation Administration, ‘FOIA Library – Category 4: Record Frequently Requested Under FOIA’. ‘Geographic Listing of hobbyist/non-hobbyist sUAS registry enrollments and registrants’. https://www.faa.gov/foia/electronic_reading_room/ (Accessed March 31, 2020)

3 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 46. https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

4 Federal Aviation Administration, ‘FOIA Library – Category 4: Record Frequently Requested Under FOIA’. ‘Geographic Listing of hobbyist/non-hobbyist sUAS registry enrollments and registrants’. https://www.faa.gov/foia/electronic_reading_room/ (Accessed March 31, 2020)

5 Federal Aviation Administration, ‘FOIA Library – Category 4: Record Frequently Requested Under FOIA’. ‘Geographic Listing of hobbyist/non-hobbyist sUAS registry enrollments and registrants’. https://www.faa.gov/foia/electronic_reading_room/ (Accessed March 31, 2020)

6 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 56.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

7 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 45.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

8 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 41.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

8 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 41.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

10 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 59.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

11 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 61.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

12 Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2020-2040 Full Forecast Document and Tables – Unmanned Aircraft System’. 53.  https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/Unmanned_Aircraft_Systems.pdf (Accessed March 15, 2020)

TAFrank

Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) Enplanements

The Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) is the official FAA forecast of aviation activity for U.S. airports. It contains historical and forecast data for enplanements, airport operations, TRACON operations and based aircraft.

The purpose of the TAF is to meet the budget and planning needs of the constituent units of the FAA and to provide information to state and local authorities, the aviation industry, and the general public. The TAF Data System is an integral part of the FAA’s forecasting function of the FAA Forecast Branch.

Volanno is the original architect and developer of the TAF software. Our expertise with database maintenance and data integrity optimization has consistently delivered punctual and comprehensive forecasts relied upon by important stakeholders such as FAA management, airport officials, finance groups, and the U.S. Congress.

Below is a racing bar chart visualization using the TAF enplanements data to rank airports by the total number of reported and forecast enplanements from 1976 to 2045. Enplanements is the number of passengers who arrive depart or transfer at any airport.

Population centers that are served by multiple airports, often see a large number of enplanements. To visualize these centers, we conglomerate them as follows:

New York: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Atlanta: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Chicago: Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Midway International Airport (MDW)
Los Angeles:Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Denver: Denver International Airport (DEN)
Dallas: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
Bay Area: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (OAK)
Washington DC: Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

Observations:
• The region with the highest number of enplanements is historically, and forecast to be in the future, New York. In 2002 and 2003, the Chicago Area ranked higher than New York.
• Historically, Chicago has the second highest number of enplanements, except in 2002 and 2003 when it switched places with New York. Since 2008, and forecast into the future, Atlanta has had and will have the second highest number of enplanements.
• Washington DC peaked at fourth highest enplanements between 2004 and 2012, largely due to enplanements at IAD the only airport in the top 20 in that region. Washington DC is forecast to jump to number 5 in 2022 until it is surpassed by Dallas in 2024, Denver in 2029, and the Bay Area in 2035 ultimately ending up 8th.