Fin Bonset

North America

Fin Bonset has more than 16 years of aviation planning experience and is well-versed in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and International Air Transport Association regulations, standards, and recommended practices for airport planning, design, operations, safety, and security. He has successfully managed a variety of projects and authored several aviation publications. Fin was named one of the Top 40 under 40 by Airport Business Magazine and is an award-winning adjunct professor at Florida Institute of Technology College of Aeronautics.

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With a population of almost 200 million people, a gross domestic product of $2.4 trillion, and a relatively high trade freedom open market, Brazil currently represents one of the world’s largest economies. Although its economy is expected to record the largest contraction in over a decade in 2015—plagued by depressed private consumption and low prices for commodities—aviation investment and infrastructure requirements through airport privitization is still a significant focus. The Brazilian government plans to privatize its major airports system and bring in international expertise to ensure system efficiency and the latest technologies to enhance overall capacity. 

But to regain its economic growth, major reform within its government will need to take place in terms of economic priorities and dependence on commodity prices. The Brazilian government has seen the need for investment in its infrastructure and has pushed for international aid through private public partnerships. This is where opportunities for partnership with international firms such as Atkins exist, especially those with aviation planning and engineering expertise. There is also interest from Brazilian infrastructure firms to expand and invest outside of Brazil, especially in the U.S. where we’re also seeing a likely trend of privatizing terminals and other airport development projects. Several Brazilian firms have done this type of work throughout the last 10 years and are looking for new opportunities, with U.S. firms serving as their technical advisors. 

To foster these relationships, a strategic initiative has been established by the United States Trade and Development Agency’s International Business Partnership Program (IBPP). This program connects U.S. technological and business expertise with the developing needs of middle-income countries—helping to create lasting, mutually beneficial business partnerships. Specifically, a U.S.-Brazil Aviation Partnership was launched in 2012 that now serves as a structured vehicle between the two country’s aviation industries—enhancing cooperation in airport expansion, airspace management, safety and security.

Workshops and training sessions are conducted by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including significant private sector involvement and covering topics such as airport certification, air traffic flow management, airport security, quality of airport service, airport planning, and aerospace education. Mutual priorities are considered and industry best practices are shared to foster relationships for future business opportunities. I was honored to be among the team who flew to Brazil for a recent training session, serving as a subject matter expert on airport design. 

I presented new and existing methodologies, including the move to geographic information systems (GIS) applications and the integration of business and strategic plan initiatives. I also discussed building information modeling (BIM)—which has not yet been used for Brazil’s airport systems, creating another opportunity for advancement. For me, discussing FAA taxiway design standards and the latest and greatest airport master planning techniques was the most exciting aspect of my trip. FAA’s taxiway design parameters have undergone major schematic changes, allowing opportunities for significant savings on overall construction costs. 

Together with Kent Duffy who leads FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), we discussed how the U.S. is addressing current capacity constraints on its National Airspace System by implementing new technologies—such as performance-based navigation (PBN) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) systems—and the positive effects they are already creating on overall system capacity. 

And although Brazil has recently experienced a lagging economy, it is expected to recover quickly and we are excited for the major improvements that are possible in the region. With 2016 Olympic Games taking place in Brazil, authorities are taking note and acknowledging systems (like NextGen) that may very well be applicable at some of their major airports. 

By helping Brazilian authorities understand these changes and technologies, and preparing them for future applications of similar concepts, we’re laying a strong foundation to build successful partnerships for future projects. Through programs such as the IBBP, we are helping to build opportunities to improve both the aviation industry and the global travel experience.

North America,

In the last two years, the Federal Aviation Administration‘s (FAA) main airport planning and design guideline document, the Advisory Circular (AC) 150-5300-13, has been through a major revision (now called “13A”). One of the most significant changes of the new AC is the revised taxiway design criteria, which has significantly affected the psyche and way of thinking for today’s airport planner.

A new “Taxiway Design Group” (TDG) was introduced to incorporate elements related to actual aircraft movements of a specific taxiing aircraft instead of previous requirements that were based only on wingspan and tail height requirements. TDG is now based on Main Gear Width (MGW) combined with Cockpit to Main Gear (CMG) distance. Furthermore, all taxiway fillet designs are now based on maintaining the aircraft’s cockpit over the centerline that essentially eliminates the old judgmental over-steering concept from old airport design literature. To compensate for the overall elimination of judgmental over-steering, which is basically a way to reduce fillet pavement, the turning radii for each design group has been decreased significantly. An example is the Airplane Design Group ADG-VI radius of 170 feet has been reduced and changed in designation to “TDG-7” with only 130 feet of radius. This new approach saves up to 5-15% on the amount of fillet required depending on the TDG, and it reduces overall costs, the latter being the overall goal for the FAA.

A clear example of the FAA’s continual aim toward modernization and efficiency is that the use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software is now mentioned within the new advisory circular as a tool to model aircraft movements, in particular, for intersections with non-standard angles. This very mention is an indirect recommendation and subsequent motivation for airport planners to become more efficient by using such software. Fortunately, Atkins’ aviation planning team already has the in-house capability to conduct the newly required taxiway geometric design simulations through its license with Transoft Solutions/Simtra PathPlanner software. Our aviation planning team is well-versed in the use of this software and is benefitting from its efficiency and subsequent cost savings on projects. Additionally, Atkins is executing a complete integration of the software’s latest capabilities with resident airport planning and CAD software experts.

In mentioning the latest use of airport planning software, just recently Simtra launched the sixth generation (version A6) of its leading airside design CAD based software PathPlanner. PathPlanner A6 not only adds a new dimension to taxiway fillet design, it is also an innovative piece of software in many other ways, including airport planning items such as power-in/power-out maneuvering, aircraft gate stand planning, jetblast analyses, and now 3D passenger boarding bridge simulations. Most recently, Atkins airport planners have used the software for gate stand analyses at New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport and at Qingdao International Airport in China where aircraft pushback operations were analyzed for capacity constraints.

With the world evolving towards a continued need for realistic simulations of future concepts and focusing on 3-dimensional visions, it is important to ensure that the latest software is always available to airport planners. With our current experience in this new realm and our existing technical in-house expertise, Atkins plans to remain at the forefront of new technology delivering that “wow” factor. Our aviation planning team will continue to excel in providing our clients with the latest and greatest airport planning technology demonstrating the highest applicability standards to the new FAA airport design requirements.

North America,