Online airspace tool receives engineering award

April 23, 2012

Software used by Kansas transportation officials to analyze potential hazards to aviation from proposed structures has been recognized with an engineering excellence award.

The Kansas Airspace Awareness Tool, developed for the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation, earned an Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) during its 2012 Engineering Excellence Awards competition. The software was developed by Burns and McDonnell, an engineering firm, and was funded by an FAA grant.

Ed Young, Kansas Department of Transportation director of aviation, accepted the award at the ACEC’s 2012 annual convention in Washington, D.C.

“It’s certainly a humbling experience to see our project recognized among so many outstanding high-impact projects from around the world,” he said.

In a news release, the Kansas Department of Transportation noted the participation in the project of AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers and Eudora High School students, who helped beta test the program and suggested modifications.

Young said growth of the wind industry in Kansas “pushed us toward developing a tool that would allow developers, planners, and citizens to visualize airport airspace. We wanted to promote development that did not reduce the usability of the airport.”

During the development process, the Kansas Department of Transportation “determined that the tool could help us plan growth, more effectively talk about the importance of the airport, and help in the early planning of everything from highways to industrial parks,” he said.

AOPA reported July 14, 2011, that the airspace awareness tool visually depicts in three dimensions how airspace interacts with surrounding features. It illustrates all Part 77 airspace surfaces, special-use airspace, military training routes, existing obstructions, Victor airways, vertically guided airspace surfaces, and aeronautical sectional charts. The tool educates, but does not replace, the FAA’s obstruction evaluation/airport airspace analysis.

The software is available free to the public from the department’s aviation website, the Kansas Department of Transportation said.