Passenger numbers are soaring for the airline industry: The Transportation Security Agency just reported that more people flew during Labor Day weekend than at any other point since March 17, 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. An encouraging trend for the aviation sector, the data indicates that airlines are back in business. Standards— and standardization efforts in progress —support the aircraft and the passengers and airline professionals who depend on them.
The airline industry has come a long way since Wilbur and Orville Wright built the first successful motor-operated airplane in 1903, a number of years before standards and protocols existed. Today, standards support various parts of aviation, with guidance that supports everything from airport emergencies to design.
A number of standards developing organizations support both the moving parts and the processes that airline operators depend on as protocol. While the realm of standards developing organizations working on airline standards is expansive, here's a look at just a few that support the airline industry.
Aircraft environments, unlike many other indoor environments, are unique because occupants cannot leave the cabin. ANSI/ASHRAE 161e-2019, Air Quality Within Commercial Aircraft, is an American National Standard (ANS) that applies to commercial passenger air-carrier aircraft carrying 20 or more passengers. The standard considers chemical, physical, and biological contaminants as well as moisture, temperature, pressure, and other factors that may affect air quality. The standard was developed by ASHRAE, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.
An ANS developed by ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International,ASTM D1655-20b, Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuels, defines the minimum property requirements for Jet A and Jet A-1 aviation turbine fuel and lists acceptable additives for use in civil and military operated engines and aircraft. The ANS was initially developed for civil applications, but has also been adopted for military aircraft.
SAE ARP 6059-2013 (SAE ARP6059-2013), Solid De-Icing/Anti-Icing Material Spreader For Airport Application, defines the requirements for a permanent vehicle-mounted or slip-in accessory device designed to transport and distribute aggregate de-icing, anti-icing, or friction modifying solid materials or wetted solid materials onto runways, taxiways, ramp, and terminal areas and other paved surfaces on an airport. The standard was developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer SAE International.
Standards also support multiple parts of airline operations: They even support the airport facilities that store and maintain aircraft. In case of an airport emergency, ANSI member and audited designator the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)'s NFPA 424, Guide for Airport/Community Emergency Planning, describes the command, communication, and coordination elements of an airport/community emergency plan (AEP) that require consideration before, during, and after an emergency has occurred to provide effective delivery of emergency services. Read more about the standard update via NFPA.
Perhaps the most innovative aircraft of our time, drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are already in action for various operations, including search and rescue missions, utility inspections, and even for delivery service during the pandemic.
ANSI, through its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standardization Collaborative (UASSC), works to coordinate and accelerate the development of the standards and conformity assessment programs needed to facilitate the safe, mass integration of UAS into the national airspace system of the United States.
In June 2020, UASCC announced the publication of the Standardization Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Version 2.0). As part of the effort,more than 400 individuals from 250 public- and private-sector organizations supported the document’s development, including representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), other U.S. federal government agencies, standards developing organizations, industry, academia, and others. While the UASSC does not itself develop standards, its roadmap recommendations are anticipated to see wide adoption by the standards community.
Ultimately, the aim of the UASSC roadmap is to support the growth of the UAS market with an emphasis on civil, commercial, and public safety applications.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that there are 5,000 aircraft in the sky at peak operational times. However, inside any of these aircraft, the parts that support the safety of these planes are substantial for passengers and pilots that depend on them. In its "Air Traffic by the Numbers" report, the FAA reveals that over 77,000 pieces of equipment operate 365 days a year, on a 24/7 cycle.