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Concept for a Future Maritime STOLport to Relieve
US Airport Capacity Issues
FAA Design Competition for Universities 2013-2014
Category IV Airport Management and Planning
Robert L. Petty

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

Concept for a Future Maritime STOLport to Relieve US Airport Capacity Issues
FAA Design Competition for Universities 2013-2014 Category IV Airport Management and Planning
Robert L. Petty
Dr. C. Daniel Prather, A.A.E., CAM
Delta State University


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Forecasts for future air travel demand indicate that passenger traffic will increase significantly in the
next 10 years with US commercial air carriers projected to transport 1.23 billion enplaned passengers a
total of 1.57 trillion passenger miles by 2032 according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s
Aerospace Forecast 2012-2032. The assumption is that the nation’s airport infrastructure will grow to
accommodate the expansion in airline operations; however, tight financial budgets and the demands
placed on improving existing facilities make large scale expenditures for the construction of more
conventional runways and new terminal space unlikely. Innovative and cost effective methods of
relieving airport congestion are needed by 2032.
In the early 1970’s the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA), as well as various private organizations, and airports, addressed the idea of over
congestion at large airports and initiated the development of an alternative concept that would allow
passengers to fly directly from city centers using short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft from small
(under 3,000 feet long) runways designated as STOLports. This effort addressed STOL aircraft
technology, noise abatement, social acceptance, and economic feasibility. During the time of the study
many of the technologies that were addressed were considered insufficient to develop as a large-scale
national initiative. STOLports and STOL aircraft, however, met the basic performance criteria to operate
successfully together during the early studies, unfortunately negative public sentiment towards aircraft
noise and poor STOL aircraft cruise performance over longer hauls made the concept an unviable
alternative to conventional airline travel in the 1970’s.
Today, NASA and industry have partnered together in designing aircraft that address the deficiencies
of previous STOL designs. The performance limitations due to high induced drag and the unacceptable
noise levels for departing and arriving aircraft from an inner city runway were design points in NASA’s
recent study, known as the Cruise Efficient Short Take and Landing (CESTOL) aircraft project. The result
of this NASA study has led to the revitalization of the 1970’s STOLport concept. This effort along with
advances in maritime based runway structures for STOL aircraft is the bases of this paper. Proof of
concept maritime runway structures which were successfully tested in Japan in the 1990’s and advances
in other applicable maritime structures developed since then has proven the feasibility of the design and
construction of a maritime STOLport. By placing these structures in waterways adjacent to large cities,
where under-capacity is, and remains a problem and with inherent off-shore noise abatement
operations have been proven, the concept of maritime STOLports can be examined as a possible
solution to intercity airline departures for short to medium haul airline routes.
Combining the latest NASA findings and the successful designs of current maritime runways this
paper addresses the plausibility of a future maritime STOLport, which would provide short to medium
haul service between shore-lined city-pairs.

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Section 1 Problem Statement and Background
Section 2 Summary of Literature Review
Section 3 Summary of Market Review
Section 4 Problem Solving Approach
Section 5 Safety Risk Assessment
Section 6 Technical Design
Section 7 Interaction with Airport Operators
Section 8 Project Impacts on Industry and FAA Goals
Appendix A List of Contact Information
Appendix B Description of the College
Appendix C Description of Non-University Partners
Appendix D Sign Off Form
Appendix E Evaluation of the Educational Experience
Appendix F Reference List of Citations

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The National Aeronautics Plan of 2004, has the goal of increasing the capacity of the air
transportation system to accommodate two to three times the air traffic than it handled when the plan
was developed. To do this the FAA plans to introduce new airspace technologies that will enable aircraft
to fly with less separation between their flights, relying on the new Automatic Dependent Surveillance-
Broadcast (ADS-B) system. The increase in aircraft traffic makes the already congested airport terminal
facilities the bottleneck in the increased flow of traffic.
In an effort to remove the constraint of overcrowding US airports and terminals on the future traffic
flow the FAA plans to revitalize unused or underutilized runways and terminal space. In the long term,
the administration foresees airlines operating point-to-point service from small runways scattered
throughout the country, moving aircraft activity away from the hub-and-spoke system with greater
reliance on linear routing. The FAA and NASA believe that 3
generation Short Takeoff and Landing
(STOL) aircraft will be able to successfully operate from congested metroplex airports by 2025, which
will promote aircraft designs that provide over 70% of a reduction in noise decibel readings around a
STOLport, a better than 75% reduction in LTO NOx emissions, and a better than 70% reduction in aircraft
fuel burn performance. These benefits are the result of the NASA CESTOL study effort.
Recently, the NASA CESTOL study concluded with the emergence of aircraft designs that were
capable of meeting the STOLport performance challenges that thwarted early STOL aircraft and
STOLport developers.
“The key to application of STOL short haul transportation is its potential capability to economically
alleviate the significant problems faced by the National Air Transportation System (NATS).”
“It appears to be general agreement that congestion of the major airports and noise are the most
important factors inhibiting the growth and prosperity of the NATS industry, both long and short-haul.”
The design and development of large floating structures for ocean space utilization has been
underway since 1995 when the Technological Research Association of Megafloat (TRAM) began with
design studies in Tokyo, Japan. Earlier concepts in Japan for floating runways started as early as 1973
when airport planners were assessing concepts for the construction of the Kansai International Airport.
However, the idea of a floating runway structure was not accepted in favor of an artificial island concept
for the Kansai airport. Despite the failure to accept the floating airport concept the Japanese
government funded the development of two national floating oil stockpiles based in Kamigoto and
Shirashima Island, Japan.
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Figure 1. Kamigoto Floating Crude Oil Storage Facility
Based on early successes with the off-shore floating oil storage facilities the Japanese funded work
through TRAM for a Phase I and II project that saw the design, construction, and testing of a floating
runway system.

(a) (b) (c)
Figure 2. a) Megafloat under tow for assembly; b) Megafloat constructed; c) Meagfloat aircraft
approaches and landing experiments.
Phase I (1995-1997), which established the basic technology of large floating structures using 300
meter long floats that were joined at sea, investigated engineering methods of interlocking the
platforms and their hydro-elastic properties. Phase II (1998-2001) was focused on the construction of a
1000 meter floating runway concept that culminated in the precision approach and landing of aircraft on
to its surface. Phase II verified:
1) The applicability of the TRAM hydro-elastic response simulation conducted during the design
and development of the floating runway.
2) General research on STOLport designs.
3) The precision recovery of aircraft on the floating structure with navigational aids, which was
tested and verified by the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau.
4) The level of environmental impact of a floating runway system.

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The TRAM Phase II project successfully verified that an Instrument Landing System could be devised
that allowed aircraft to fly precision approaches to the floating runway. The landing system used a
localizer, a glide slope, and a precision approach path indicator (PAPI) to orient the pilot to the approach
course of the runway. Initial concerns over aligning Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) while preparing for
departure from the floating structure was raised, but after successful experiments with an INS onboard
the structure, the concern was laid to rest. The landing experiments were preceded by ground based
simulation to determine if there would be significant signal instability throughout the approach a
moving deck. The simulator study was followed by actual approaches and landings to the floating
runway, which were conducted will little or no difficulty (Sasajima pg.4).

Figure 3. TRAM Megafloat Layout
Concerns over the environmental impact of a large floating structure were analyzed during the TRAM
Phase II project. The main concern was the impact to undersea wildlife, particularly seaweed beds and
shell life caused by sun and oxygen deprivation under the shadow of the structure. A bottom airspace
was initially designed into the structure to allow for air to pass between the floating structure and the
surface of the water. It was confirmed that impact to these species were very unlikely. The TRAM Phase
II floating structures program was $95 million.
There are many benefits of a maritime STOLport. Maritime STOLports can be placed far enough away
from urbanized areas where the noise decibel levels can be minimized. They can be deployed where
long flat terrain features are not available for conventional runway development (e.g. small islands,
mountainous regions, swamps, etc.). And, if readily available, the system could be used in emergency
situations were a relatively quick deployment of a runway structure is needed along a coast or waterway
for receiving emergency responders and equipment.
The STOLport’s application as a reliever airport facility and its impact on commercial aviation has
been studied in the past by NASA and others in the aviation industry. Maritime STOLports have be
considered in the past by various municipalities and airport managers as a way to minimize congestion
at a primary or large airport. In the past, the deficiencies of STOL aircraft made the STOLport idea an
unattractive one. Today, the STOLport is being revived by NASA through various studies and research
efforts to improve upon the misgivings of earlier STOL aircraft. Specifically, cruise speed and noise.
NASA’s STOL aircraft initiative is focused on technology that it will yield a passenger transport concept
that can arrive and depart from a STOLport over a short-haul to medium-haul market.
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The late 1970’s saw a US national research thrust into Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing aircraft
(V/STOL) technologies. The Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft (QSRA) program developed by Ames
Research Center was a flight facility for research in to terminal area operations. The aircraft used in the
research program was heavily modified de Havilland DHC-5 Buffalo (NASA C-8A “Bisontennial”) with a
short-span Boeing wing that incorporated two split-flow turbofan engines based on the Rolls-Royce
Spey. Later a second DHC-5 was modified into the QSRA aircraft. Equipped with four Avco Lycoming
YF102 high by-pass turbofan engines, which were mounted above the wing in order to take advantage
of the Coanda effect the demonstrated exceptional takeoff and landing performance. Confidence in the
aircraft leads to aircraft carrier trials of the QSRA aircraft in 1980, from the USS Kitty Hawk. Take-offs
and landings were accomplished without the aid of catapults or arresting gear.
Despite the accomplishments of the QSRA aircraft its speed was slow. The landing gear was not
designed to retract, the leading edge of the wing was fixed, and the fuselage was designed for slow
tactical aircraft operations, limiting the aircraft to 190 knots.

Figure 4. NASA C-8A QSRA
In 1968 the United States Air Force began studies into an Advanced Medium STOL Transport (AMST)
designed to replace the Lockheed Aircraft Company’s venerable C-130 Hercules. The Boeing Aircraft
Company and the McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company each submitted entries into the program with
the YC-14 and YC-15, respectively. Both designs represented different approaches to developing
remarkable STOL aircraft performance using upper surface (i.e. YC-14) and under surface (i.e. YC-15)
blowing techniques.
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Figure 5. Boeing YC-14 and McDonnell Douglas YC-15
Upper Surface Blowing (USB) technology, as demonstrated in the YC-14, utilizes the high bypass ratio
engines exhaust to generate lift by directing it across the top of the wing and along the trailing edge flap.
The flow of exhaust produces the Coanda effect, which results in a downward deflection of thrust and
super circulation that enables the design to generate greater amounts of lift.
The YC-15 utilized a ‘blown flap’ technique that directs engine exhaust underneath the wing and
across the extended flap. The accelerated flow increases the pressure differential between the upper
and lower wing surfaces and with the downward directed flow due to the flap results in added lift. These
engine-wing combinations work to maximize the efficiency of the aircrafts performance during takeoff
and landing. Technologies such as this have helped to make STOLport operations from a commercial
viewpoint a technological reality.
In the mid-1960’s NASA began studying the possibility of developing short-haul airline service to
relieve congestion at large airports. In conjunction to these studies Eastern and American Airlines
experimented with the concept of STOLport airline operations using the Breguet 941/ McDonnell
Douglas MD188 aircraft. The FAA, US Department of Transportation and various port authorities
cooperated in the demonstration.
Trials were conducted over select routes beginning in 1968 in the north-eastern region of the United
States. The aircraft, which has a maximum airline seating configuration for 64 passengers, cruises at a
speed of 215 knots, takes-off within 700-1,000 feet and lands within 600-400 feet, was considered very
capable for the mission. Plans underway by Eastern Airlines at the time of the demonstration were to
develop a STOL airliner capable of at least 350 knots and able to transport 100 passengers.
Experimenters found the demonstration to be “very convincing of the usefulness of the STOL concept
in air transport. If the cruise speed can be increased there is no doubt that STOL will be a tremendous
attraction to airlines.” (Flight International 17 Oct 1968 pg. 614)

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Figure 6. Breguet 941/McDonnell Douglas MD188 Balanced Field Length and STOL Commuter
Experiment by Eastern Airlines.
The airlines conducted a variety of tests using the Breguet 941/MD188, such as passenger surveys on
ride quality, delay comparisons at large airports where a STOL runway was being used,

Figure 7. MD-188 undergoing Service Tests with American Airlines
The Breguet 941S was a French aircraft design that was licensed to be manufactured by the
McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company in the US and was introduced to the commercial airline industry as
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the McDonnell Douglas Model 188. The aircraft could routinely takeoff in 700 feet, after a rotation at 65
knots and land within 600 feet after a 60-65 knot approach. Between 1968 and 1969 Eastern and
American Airlines flew the aircraft to determine the feasibility of commercial STOL operations. When
McDonnell Douglas was considering the MD188 for the US domestic market it was in competition with
another McDonnell Douglas project, the DC-9, which performed well on short-range routes along the
eastern seaboard of the US. (STOL Progenitors: The Technology Path to a Large STOL Transport and the
C-17, Bill Norton).
The technology that drove the aircraft’s STOL performance was the concept of externally blown flaps.
Deflecting the propeller slip stream across the flap enabled the aircraft to generate more lift than a
conventional aircraft’s flap system. This is possible because the high energy slipstream energizes the
boundary layer of air that flows along the surface of the airfoil. Normally, as the aircrafts wing is
increased in angle-of-attack, the lift of the wing is increased. However, as this angle reaches a critical
angle (e.g. 18-20 degrees) the boundary layer flow of air over the wing becomes detached from the
wings surface and turbulent flow results. Once this occurs a loss of lift, or a stall, has resulted and the
aircraft begins descending. The externally blown flap can reduce the onset of a stall by allowing the
aircraft to fly at a higher angle-of-attack without stalling. This method is often used today in large
transports such as the Boeing C-17 or Airbus A380 where high lift is needed, however, the maintenance
associated with blow flaps is high and reduces the number of designs likely to use to the technology.


Figure 8. NASA-Cal Poly CESTOL Design
NASA CESTOL Aircraft Concept
The NASA Subsonic Fixed Wing (SFW) Project, which began in 2005, was a multidisciplinary
technology exploration project to address engine-airframes configurations for the general aviation
community. From this project came various designs including the CESTOL concept. The CESTOL (Cruise
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Efficient Short Take-Off and Landing) vehicle was designed to address the congestion issue of large
airports by designing 90-150 passenger commercial transports that could operate from short reliever
fields (3,000ft long runways) and cruise at Mach 0.8 and 30,000 ft. to its destination. Historically, STOL
aircraft have poor top speed performance due to their inherent high lift designs and high levels of drag.
With the design point of operating from smaller air fields, large congested airports can reduce delays
with less time spent idle waiting on taxiways or in an en-route hold. CESTOL was also designed to fly
steep climb-out and approaches to reduce the noise levels outside of the airports boundaries. Its
engines are positioned on top of the wings to help mask the noise signature recordable from the ground
and its Upper Surface Blowing engine-wing interaction helps to generate lift during approach and
takeoff to climb and approach at steeper angles.
NASA examined possible CESTOL operations using Newark Liberty International (KEWR) as a test case. In
the case study the CESTOL aircraft would utilize KEWR’s runway 29/11, designated for turboprop
aircraft, which would free up space on KEWR’s other runways (4L, 4R, 22L, and 22R) designated for large
commercial aircraft. When NASA looked at 34 major airports in the study that would utilize CESTOL
aircraft flying between them, NASA found that a delay reduction was propagated through the airspace
system. “Improvements up to 64% in delay reduction were calculated for impacted airports and 23%
improvement for the network.”(Hange, Craig 2011 pg. 32)

Figure 9. NASA-Cal Poly STOL Airliner Concept Landing in an Inter-City Airport
The NASA study also examined commercial tilt rotor concepts that could cruise at 300-350 knots. The
concept at using STOL and VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) designs in the study was to allow for the
maximum use of small airfields, decentralizing large commercial airline operations from large airports to
small airports located closer to urban areas, in order to achieve efficiency for the entire air transport
system. Floating platforms, whether a STOLport or a vertiport, can both utilized the maritime STOLport
The STOL airline concept is envisioned to operate in a simultaneous non-interfering (SNI) manner
with conventional traffic by using high maneuverability combined with steep approaches at low-speed in
the terminal area. CESTOL technology is available over the near term with a number of new technologies
that will give designers more latitude in CESTOL configurations and engine types.

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A review of the literature regarding maritime STOLports has been limited to papers written on
Japanese maritime runway development and US short-haul STOL aircraft and US STOLport development.
Most of the serious maritime runway concepts were developed between 1975-1995 with significant
work being accomplished and published by the Department of Environmental Engineering & Ocean
Engineering at the University of Tokyo and by the Technological Research Association of Megafloat
(TRAM), which is an industry lead partnership between the maritime structures industry, Japanese
universities, and the Japanese government.
Many of the manuscripts regarding STOLport design, development, and research, were obtained from
NASA studies conducted in the 1960s-1970’s. Most of these works involve the technical aspects of
STOLport and STOL aircraft design, operation from a STOLport, and feasibility studies on passenger and
airport community acceptance. Later works regarding CESTOL, ESTOL, and hybrid short-haul aircraft
designs that would be applicable to STOLport operations were acquired through NASA.
The challenge of this paper is the integration of modern and near term STOL aircraft with the current
state-of-the-art maritime structures to determine the feasibility of deploying this technology for
metroplex point-to-point transportation. The chosen markets for maritime STOLports were based on
literature provided by early NASA studies and current articles regarding interest in floating runways.
Works used in this paper are cited in Appendix F.

In the early 1970’s a number of cities began to look at developing STOLports to relieve airline
congestion at their large area airports. Studies were commissioned to determine the operational,
economic, environmental, social, and engineering feasibility of utilizing STOLports for center-city to
center-city airline passenger travel. New York operated a STOLport at the LaGuardia Airport (1,096 ft.
long), Boston’s Logan Airport developed a designated STOLport (1,800 ft. long), and the Walt Disney
World opened their STOLport in 1971. All were short lived airport projects.
The demand for STOLports began to diminish in the early 1970’s as airports began adding and
extended their runways, implementing technology that helped to reduce aircraft enroute separation
and hence, reduce delay, and new engine technologies that reduced aircraft noise enabled operations
around-the-clock, without the need for limited hours of operation.
Today, there is a resurgent interest in STOLports as fuel prices continue to escalate and metro-city
areas continue to sprawl, encroaching on existing airports and limiting their expansion. STOL aircraft
technology is also developing rapidly with the use of composite materials in airline construction, Upper
Surface and External Surface Blowing aircraft designs for STOL use, and direct routing with new
navigation systems. STOLport technology is technically feasible, however, its public acceptance and
economic viability that may determine its success.
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Maritime STOLports have yet to find success despite encouraging experiments in very large floating
structures, such as TRAM’s Megafloat. However, many of the factors that prevented floating runways
from becoming a reality (e.g. the concerns during the design of the Kansai Airport and the floating
runway’s environmental impact) are being resolved with engineering solutions.
Presented here is a brief summary of some of those studies and a review of contemporary interest in
maritime STOLports.
San Francisco Floating STOLport Study 1975
In 1972 the Northern California STOL (NORCALSTOL) group was assembled for a three year period to
encourage and study the feasibility of a quiet short haul air transport system between the business
centers of the San Francisco Bay Area and urban centers of outlying cities of Northern California.
NORCALSTOL, organized by the FAA and NASA-Ames Research Center, developed the study of a floating
STOLport in two possible locations in San Francisco Bay. The results of the study determined that the air
service from the Bay STOLport was technically feasible. Their method of construction was to use older
ship hulls that were once placed in dry dock, which could be reconditioned to provide the floatation
system for a runway deck and terminal facility. Unfortunately, the study revealed the local population
near the planned runway locations were vehemently opposed to ‘another airport’ in their city, which in
their opinions would add to the noise and pollution levels. The results of the study concluded that the
maritime STOLport was not a feasible option for the flying public in the Bay Area due to concerns over
noise pollution.

Figure 10. San Francisco Bay 1975 Concept for a maritime STOLport

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Floating Interim Manhattan STOLport Study of 1967
In 1967 the Floating Interim Manhattan STOLport (FIMS) study, conducted by the FAA and American
Airlines, addressed the idea of a floating STOLport to be located in the Hudson River near W. 30
The analysis addressed the technical feasibility of designing a floating system that would accommodate
either aircraft up to 60,000 lbs gross weight or 200,000 lbs gross weight. The estimated cost of these
two runway systems were $12 million and $14.5 million, respectively. The plan was considered very
reasonable to many in local government officials who signed letters of consent with the concept,
however a local organization, known as the ‘Chelsea Against the STOLport’ group, petitioned and raised
concerns over the location of the STOLport, saying “what is true for Chelsea holds true for any other city
across our country. We will see to it that the environment of our cities is not destroyed on the pretext of
our finding ways to reach them faster and thereby polluting them faster.”(Howard, pg. 96)

Figure 11. New York City’s Hudson River STOLport 1967 STOLport Concept

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Current Interest in STOLports
San Diego PSP Runway
In 2003 a plan was considered to either expand San Diego’s Lindbergh Field or place funds into a
floating STOLport. Airport designers considered a floating platform known as the Pneumatic Stabilized
Platform (PSP) that would be anchored three miles off the tip of Point Loma. However, the concept was
rejected in October of 2003 due to high costs, problems of accessing the airport, the difficulty in
providing utilities that far off shore, their failure to address security concerns such as terrorist attacks,
and inadequate room for high speed exits and taxiways.
The PSP concept was unique in that it utilizes encapsulated air to remain afloat as the structure was
composed of a number of cylindrical shaped components clustered together in a rectangular pattern to
form a module that can be expanded by linking multiple modules.
Haneda Airport in Tokyo
The Haneda Airport in Tokyo has developed an artificial jetty with steel structures holding up the
airport’s new runway. The planning team for Haneda considered a floating structure instead of one
which is moored to the bottom with steel poles. Tsunami in the region of Japan are of particular concern
for a floating airport design and was ruled out over a structure that is permanently mounted in position.
US Navy Office of Naval Research
The US Navy has been conducting studies on the technical feasibility and costs of building a mobile
offshore base. A mobile offshore base is a self-propelled, modular, floating platform that can be
assembled into lengths on the order of one mile to provide logistic support of US military operations
where fixed bases are not available. (Taylor, 2003)
Current Overcrowding at Major US Airports
According to Travel and Leisure Magazine the worst airports to fly to and from, primarily due to
delays, are:
1. LaGuardia Airport (KLGA)
2. Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX)
3. Philadelphia (KPHL)
4. New York (KJFK)
5. Newark (KEWR)
6. Chicago O’Hare (KORD)
7. Washington Dulles (KIAD)
8. Boston (KBOS)
9. Houston (KIAH)
10. Atlanta (KATL)
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Many of these cities, which are listed as the worst airports in the US, are collocated next to large
bodies of water that could potentially utilize the concept of a maritime STOLport. In fact LaGuardia and
Boston have had designated STOLports in the past, while New York has considered a floating STOLport in
the Hudson River and San Francisco (not listed among the worst) have considered maritime STOLports.
The primary concerns for their rejections were publically unacceptable noise levels.
JFK Airport, New York
Terminals 3 and 4 at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York are consistently rated by travelers as
being very crowded. Travelers to New York can typically expect crowds no matter which of the three
airports they will fly from (JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports). Jamaica Bay, which has a natural
barrier island for a water break could contain the sea state for the use of a maritime STOLport.
Los Angeles International Airport
A 2010 J.D. Power & Associates survey rated LAX as the third-worst airport in the U.S., and crowding
was a big contributing factor. Long security lines (which go hand-in-hand with overcrowding) and delays
getting through customs are other big complaints for travelers using LAX. A manmade seawall or water
break could be built in between the Pacific Ocean and the maritime STOLport making it a possible future
candidate for additional runways.
O’Hare International Airport, Chicago
Originally built to alleviate crowding from Chicago’s Midway Airport, O’Hare is now one of the most
crowded airports in the world – so much so that it was recently named the “Worst Airport in America.”
The primary reason is flight delays, which results in passenger overcrowding. Lake Michigan offers a
closed body of water where the relatively calm sea state would allow for the positioning of a maritime
STOLport along the coast of Chicago.
London City Airport as a Model for Maritime STOLport

Figure 12. London City Airport
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For this concept paper London City Airport (ICAO EGLC) is an interesting airport model to examine in
terms of intercity STOLport design, operation, and community relations. It is located on a former dock
site 6.9 miles from the City of London. The financial district, which is closest to the airport, is the primary
user of the facility. The runway is 4,900 ft. long (1500m), which allows aircraft to operate from the
airport with field performance over the US 3,000 ft. STOLport criteria. In 2013 the airport served over
3.3 million passengers, which is a 12% increase from 2012. The airport is constructed from concrete and
has one runway strip that only allows STOL capable aircraft with certified crews that can fly the 5.5
degree glideslope approach.

Figure 13. London City Airport Layout
When the airport originally opened in 1988 the runway was 3,543 ft. long and had a glideslope of 7.5
degrees for noise abatement. The only aircraft that used the airport were STOL DeHavilland Dash 7 and
Dornier Do228’s. The runway was extended and opened in 1992 allowing British Aerospace BAe 146
STOL aircraft to operate at EGLC. Passenger enplanement increased from 133,000 passengers in the first
year to 1,580,000 passengers five years later. In 2006 the Docklands Light Railway opened a branch line
from the financial district to the airport with 2.3 million passengers flying from the airport that year. The
airport now accepts arriving transatlantic aircraft from John F. Kennedy International Airport with
specially configured Airbus A318 aircraft. (Only the eastbound leg is transatlantic due to the weight
restrictions for the aircraft departing EGLC.) Current plans are to expand to allow more aircraft stands
and gates by 2030. There are 11 airlines that currently utilize the airport, airlines such as Alitalia, British
Airways, Lufthansa, and Swiss International Airways.

The technology of maritime STOLports is readily available as demonstrated by the research
conducted in Japan in 2005. The TRAM association developed a 1,000 meter long by 121 meter wide
experimental floating runway at the Yoksuka Port in the Tokyo Bay or Tokyo, Japan. The design,
connected to the shoreline by free-pivotal bridge for public access and moored to an underwater
mooring structure to prevent its movement, the maritime STOLport was used to conduct various
studies, including structural fabrication at sea, structural stability, environmental impact, and aircraft
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terminal navigation and takeoff/landing experiments. The Japanese data on maritime runways was the
basis of developing the concept of an operational STOLport to relieve US airport congestion in cities that
border large bodies of water.
After examining the Japanese maritime runway structures and their experimental data an effort was
made to examine the work on STOLports and STOL aircraft by NASA was conducted. Significant work on
STOL aircraft technology and the feasibility of STOLports in the US was reviewed for this paper. Next, a
design effort was made to develop a maritime STOLport layout with adequate facilities to accommodate
airlines operating STOL aircraft and the passenger facilities needed to process arriving and departing
passengers. Additional effort was taken to consider the application of future STOL aircraft designs that
NASA has deemed as possible solutions to the problems of early STOL airline aircraft. These designs,
such as NASA’s CESTOL and ESTOL, were included in this research. This paper further addresses the
social issues of STOLports in high density populations where noise, pollution, and operational hazards
may reduce public acceptance of STOLports and how a maritime STOLport may provide some solutions.

Addressing the safety concerns of a maritime STOLport AC 150/5200-37 Introduction to Safety
Management Systems for Airport Operators was reviewed and five phases of Safety Management
Systems (SMS) was applied to each element of the design. Describing the system, identifying the
hazards, determining the risk, assessing the risk, and developing ways to mitigate the risks are
Maritime STOLport Risk
The general risks associated with typical US airline and airport operations are assumed and not
specifically addressed in this paper, although the operations that have elevated levels of risks that are
shared with airline and airport operations that are associated with the operations of a maritime
STOLport are included.
A floating runway structure, that is not positioned in an enclosed body of water (e.g. a lake or river),
is subject to high sea states and needs to be designed with breaks, barrier islands, or seawalls to prevent
unnecessary movement that could damage the structure or subject aircraft or passengers to
unnecessary risks. The sea state of the chosen location for a maritime STOLport should be determined
through oceanographic studies to determine the acceptability of a maritime STOLport design.
Aircraft operations to, from, and on maritime STOLports are exposed to the possibility of a ditching
events. Examples include aircraft that touches down prior to the STOLport, overruns the STOLport, or
inadvertently taxis off of the STOLport, increase the level of risk while operating at a maritime STOLport.
Designing the runway environment with adequate approach and runway/taxiway lighting will help to
mitigate the risk of off runway events. Specially designed rails or arresting barriers created to prevent
taxiing off the runways or taxiways if an aircraft fails to be recovered on the runway. Specific rescue
Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

procedures, equipment (i.e. moored rescue boats, floatation gear) and safety personnel trained to
rescue and recover passengers and aircraft that ditch around a maritime STOLport will help to be
prepared in the event of a ditching.
Propeller or jet blasts that can impact passengers, personnel, equipment, or facilities on confined
taxiways and ramp areas could be a potential risk. Designing blast barriers between aircraft operations
areas and protected areas will significantly reduce the risk of injury.
Unique visual navigational queues that guide aircraft towards the STOLport may require specific
familiarization with the unique approach procedures so as not to cause undue hazard to the aircraft, its
passengers and persons or property, especially in heavily congested areas. Visual navigation aid placed
in waterways produce a potential waterway hazard.
Environmental concerns due to fuel spills and water runoff into the waterway environment is a real
concern. Methods of capturing runoff with guttering and spill cleanup will reduce the amount of
contaminants that would find its way to the water.
Noise levels in a metroplex or high population density area can cause health concerns for local
residents. By tailoring the approach and departure corridors along less populated areas and to utilize the
often steep approach and climb capabilities of STOL aircraft the noise can be mitigated. New aircraft
designs are accounting for high noise levels in their design and will become more tolerable for
operations in congested areas.
The maritime structure must be guarded against catastrophic failure or collapse, such as sinking due
to an aircraft accident or extreme wave conditions, or the failure of a mooring system. The TRAM
Megafloat structure, which is divided into a large number of watertight compartments, resisted sinking.
Also, simulations conducted by TRAM on aircraft crashing into the structure revealed that damage was
limited due to the compartmental nature of the float structure, which isolated the damage to the
impacted cells.
Fluctuations in glideslope of precision instrument landing systems (ILS), precision approach pass
indicator (PAPI), and future navigation systems due to hydro-elastic responses were examined by TRAM
and found to be negligible.
TRAM conducted trial calculations of target safety levels for their Megafloat concept if used as large
international airport and placed its annual probability of failure low, while placing its consequence of
failure high. This result indicates that it is very unlikely to have a catastrophic event, however, if a
catastrophic event did occur the effects could promulgate throughout the Megafloat. The smaller
STOLport concept would limit the scale of the effect, although the probabilities would remain the same.
Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

Figure 14. TRAM Megafloat Concept and target safety level
The maritime STOLport concept is based on the TRAM Megafloat design Phase 2 structure and the
design requirements set forth in the ICAO STOLPORT Manual Doc 9150-AN/899 and FAA Advisory
Circular AC 150/5200-37. The Megafloat, which is 1,000 meters long (3280 feet) and 60 meters wide
(196 feet), provides the basic cellular structure for the papers maritime STOLport concept with minor
changes to relate some of the lessons learned from the TRAM experiment. The design is also scaled up
to allow for a variety of STOL category aircraft that have higher cruise performance (i.e. higher cruising
speeds often result in higher approach and landing speeds requiring greater field lengths).
ICAO identifies a STOLport as a field of less than 800m (2,624ft) in length. For this study the field
length was increased to accommodate the latest aircraft designs that have STOL capabilities as well as to
consider future designs under development. Although, it is not a large runway its size is modeled after
the operational London City Airport in London, England, which accommodates BAe 146, ATR 42/72, DHC
7, Do 328, and Saab 340 passenger aircraft.
The proposed maritime STOLport is a low profile floating structure that uses a breakwater or natural
terrain barrier, a mooring unit, and a gangway for passenger access. The large (4,000ft long) low profile
Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

structure would exhibit very little elastic behavior due to small waves as their amplitude and frequency
along the length and width of the structure cancels out the effect of the individual wave action. A
breakwater should be incorporated in to the design if the body of water is large enough that large scale
wave action is potentially encountered.
The design would be constructed in 50ft sections that would be towed into position by a tug boat and
secured using a locking mechanism. The mooring unit should be designed to constrain the floating
platform and keep the position of the platform relatively steady, allowing for small tidal action.
Typically, a fender-type mooring dolphin is used that allows the platform to rise and descend with the
Once the sections of floating platforms are constructed the next challenge is to join them at sea. The
Megafloat experiment found that an accuracy of +/-5 mm in length could be achieved through the use
of common gauges and carrying out temperature compensation, which results in material deformation.
Thermal related deformations, wave induced motions, the need to weld steel components in a marine
environment, and cumulative errors arising during installation were some of the challenges that the
Megafloat platform team experienced during joining operations. A winch-equipped pontoon, a jig for
controlling vertical motion due to wave action, a deck-mounted device used to pull the sections of the
platform together from different points, and a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system used to
accurately position the platform sections at sea were used to join the Megafloat sections together.

Figure 15. TRAM Megafloat Being Joined at Sea.
Corrosion, especially in a body of water open to salty seawater, is a problem for long term marine
structures. Corrosion protection for splash zones is important if long life (100 years or more) of the
maritime STOLport structure is expected. Titanium cladding was the method adopted and validated for
the TRAM Megafloat and would be considered for the maritime STOLport. Maintenance of the structure
was considered in the design and a small underwater maintenance robot was designed and developed
to inspect and repair the underside of the platform. The TRAM group was able to prove the feasibility of
using a robot maintenance device to replace sacrificial anodes and cut away and weld exterior plates
under dry conditions. The anodes are a system of cathodic protection where small plates of ‘sacrificial’
metal, that is more prone to corrosion, is used to protect the structure. Over time these sacrificial
anodes are cut away and replaced. All of this maintenance was performed by the underwater robot for
Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

the TRAM experiment. The maritime STOLport would include coatings, cathodic protection, corrosion
allowance and corrosion monitoring as a strategy to maintain the integrity of the structure.

Figure 16. Megafloat Structural Arrangement
The floating structure would be moored to the seabed using a maritime ‘dolphin’ mooring system.
The mooring is anchored to the seabed with free floating piers that allow the attached floating structure
to traverse up and down with the tide, while not being able to translate side-to-side. This prevents
undue stress on the floating structure and its mounts during tidal activity, while maintaining a relatively
fixed position on the surface of the water.

Figure 17. Dolphin Mooring Method
The dolphin mooring system was successfully tested by TRAM. It was manufactured on the surface
and then carefully positioned using a barge and crane float. The mooring mast was lowered to the
seabed where it was adjusted and secured on the floor.
Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

Figure 18. Dolphin Moor Being Lowered

The maritime STOLport would be designed with a land based terminal facility to handle all passenger
ticketing, baggage, security screening, and holding. This would minimize the amount of the floating
structure’s surface area that would be required to provide for passenger related operations. For this
study the Port of San Diego Broadway Pier Cruise ship Terminal was used as a basis for developing the
passenger facilities. The handling and movement of passengers around dockside facilities lent cruise ship
facilities as a relevant model for planning. See Figure 19.
Once the passengers are released to the floating structure, they would migrate down the pier
supported gangway to the free-pivotal ramp that is on the floating structure. A narrow terminal ‘finger’
along the edge of the floating structure would accommodate the passengers as they board their
individual airline through a jetway. Once all passengers have boarded their aircraft the jetway is
removed, the aircraft pushed back with a tug, and the aircraft taxis under its own power to the run-up
and hold short threshold. An operational control tower would issue all ground and terminal area
clearances on the STOLport. Once cleared for takeoff the airliner would proceed to depart the runway
and enter the rest of the National Airspace System.

Figure 19. Notional Terminal, Passenger Lounge, and Gangway
Upon arrival aircraft would be vectored for an approach to the STOLport from the area approach
controller. The TRAM organization successfully experimented with Instrument Landing System (ILS) and
Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPI) for visual approaches to their Megafloat runway. A Global
Positioning Satellite (GPS) system, ILS (Category I with minimum visibility of 800 meters and 60 meter
decision height), and PAPI would be considered for approach to the maritime STOLport. Since the
STOLport uses dolphin mooring systems that allow for the float to rise and settle with the tide a unique
Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

Optical Landing System (OLS) could be utilized to guide aircraft in during the final phase of the approach.
The OLS considered here is similar to the US Navy’s Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System
(IFLOLS) often used on aircraft carriers. This system accounts for any movement in the landing deck due
to wave action from its gyroscopically stabilized mount. Landing on the deck would be accomplished as
a normal landing with Aiming Point and Touchdown Zone markings painted on the runway surface.
Following the centerline markings the aircraft would proceed to the end to the runway and on to the
taxiway. From there the aircraft would be given a taxi clearance to proceed to their designated gate. The
aircraft would recycle for its next flight.

Figure 20. TRAM Megafloat and IFLOL System
Ramp services would be available through fuel, lavatory, potable water, and electrical service
conduits that would run underneath the deck. These systems would be serviced through a barge system
that delivers fuel and water to the STOLport and removes sumped fuel and wastewater, bringing it back
to the mainland. Electrical power is provided by high power electrical lines that run under the surface of
the water.

Figure 21. Concept Maritime STOLport Utilities
Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

The design, which places the runway structure offshore, could be further removed from the shoreline
and populated area by allowing passengers to access the airport through a fixed or floating bridge
system or ferryboat. The design is scalable and could accommodate larger aircraft, as the Japanese have
studied as a potentially feasible option for their airport needs.
The notional maritime STOLport designed for this study is presented in Figure 22. A 4,000 ft. x 90 ft.
runway, it is designed as a Group II runway able to accommodate aircraft with wingspans of up to 118 ft.
and tail heights of up to 30 ft. Runway extensions of 175ft are found at both ends with localizer landing
aids at both ends. Glideslope antennas are positioned at 800ft distances from each end of the runway

Figure 22. Notional 4,000 ft. Maritime STOLport with Nine Gates
Group II category runways allow for aircraft approaches between 91-121 kts. This enables aircraft
that are in the commuter and regional jet categories to fly approaches to the runway from either end.

The STOLport concept was discussed with Thomasville Regional Airport (KTVI) Manager Mike
Woodham and KTVI Operations Specialist Robert Dukes. They related some of their 20 years of airport
management and operations insight into the operational realities of operating an airport with
suggestions towards the STOLport Concept.
KTVI Manager Mike Woodham
882 Airport Road
Thomasville, GA 31757

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

The impact of an innovative air transportation system, such as STOLports, on the commercial aviation
industry is significant. A broadening of the STOL aircraft market would ensue as aircraft manufacturers
began designing and developing new aircraft to meet the demand for STOLport performance. This may
result in additional employment for workers in those manufacturing areas. The maritime structures
industry, tasked with building the floating STOLports, would also see a surge in activity. The small
airports and the terminals at the maritime STOLports would employee workers to staff these areas that
would be remote from the areas existing airports, requiring additional personnel to staff these facilities.
STOLport development and STOL/VSTOL aircraft development are areas of research that NASA and
the FAA have pursued for nearly 50 years. These governmental agencies understand the potential of
such a concept and continue to pursue the technologies development to this day. The maritime
STOLport concept combined with NASA’s latest STOL aircraft initiatives makes the idea an exciting
endeavor with the possibility for near-term technology application and system operation’s in the
national air transportation system.

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

Appendix A List of complete contact info of all advisors and team members
Appendix B Description of the University
Appendix C Description of non-university partners
Appendix D Signoff form for faculty
Appendix E Evaluation of the educational experience
Appendix F Reference list full citations using APA or other standard format

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

List of Advisors and Team Members
Student Team Member: Robert L. Petty-
DSU Faculty Member: Dr. C. Daniel Prather, A.A.E. –

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

“Delta State University is a public institution providing a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate
curriculum to over 4,000 students representing all of the states and more than 20 countries. Dozens of
degree programs on the undergraduate level provide educational opportunities in the Colleges of Arts
and Sciences, Business, and Education and in the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing. Graduate programs
on the master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral levels provide advanced training in a broad range of
“Acknowledging its beginnings as a teacher’s college, the University sustains excellence in teacher
education while continuing to expand offerings in traditional as well as unique programs of study. From
the core disciplines such as arts, humanities, and sciences, to unique programs such as Commercial
Aviation, the Delta Music Institute, and the nationally-recognized Geospatial Information Technology
program, the University is committed to meeting the evolving needs of the students it serves.”
Source: Delta State University Website (

Non-University Partners

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

FAA Design Competition for Universities
Design Submission Form (Appendix D)
Note: This form should be included as Appendix D in the submitted PDF of the design
package. The original with signatures must be sent along with the required print copy of
the design.


List other partnering universities if appropriate

Design Developed by: Individual Student Student Team

I f I ndividual Student


Permanent Mailing Address

Permanent Phone Number Email

I f Student Team:

Student Team Lead

Permanent Mailing Address

Permanent Phone Number Email

Competition Design Challenge Addressed:

I certify that I served as the Faculty Advisor for the work presented in this Design submission
and that the work was done by the student participant(s).

Signed Date

Street Address
City State Zip Code
Telephone Fax

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities

The educational experience obtained during this project was to examine all of the airports functions
and create a unique reliever airport concept which would consider the latest NASA technology and
foreign technological solutions. A review of NASA literature and research into the latest Japanese
technologies into offshore airport designs provided ample opportunity to learn about airport planning,
design and development in this creative concept of maritime STOLports.

Delta State University- FAA Design Competition for Universities


Federal Short Takeoff and Landing Programs- Status and Needs, Report to Congress by the Comptroller
General of the US
Gorham, John A. Study to Determine Operational and Performance Criteria for STOL Aircraft Operating
in Low Visibility Conditions. AMES Research Center, May 1978
Higgins, T.P., Stout, E.G., Sweet, H.S. Study of Quiet Turbofan STOL Aircraft for Short Haul Transportation
NASA-CR-135481,. Lockheed-California Company July 1973
ICAO Stolport Manual, Doc 9150-AN/899, 2
Kanafani, Adib. An Analysis of Short Haul Airline Operating Costs NASA CR 137763, October 1975
Norton, Bill. STOL Progenitors: The Technology Path to a Large STOL Transport and the C-17A. AIAA Case
Study- Library of Flight. 2002
Overview of Megafloat: Concept, Design Criteria, Analysis, and Design, Hideyuki Suzuki, 19 July 2005
Department of Environmental & Ocean Engineering, University of Tokyo
San Francisco Floating Stolport Study NASA-TM-X-72432 Feb 1974
Shovlin, Michael D., Cochrane, John A. An Overview of the Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft Program,
NASA Tech Memorandum 78545, November 1978
Taylor, R. (2003). “MOB project summary and technology spin-offs,” Proceedings of the International
Symposium on Ocean Space Utilization Technology, NRMI, pp. 29-36, January 28-31, Tokyo, Japan
Technical Feasibility of Floating Interim Manhattan Stolport, Report No. FAA-RD-70-67, Sept 1970
Tsach, S., London, L. ESTOL (Extremely Short Take-off and Landing)., Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI),
Ben Gurion Intl. Airport, 70100, Israel
Watanabe, E., Wang, C.M., Utsunomiya, T., and Moan, T. Very Large Floating Structures: Applications,
Analysis & Design. Department of Civil and Earth Resources Engineering, Kyoto University Kyoto 606-
8501, Japan

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