Airborne Laser Survey Specifications and Quality Management Protocols for Airport Obstruction Surveys


Airport obstruction surveys are conducted to identify obstacles (objects penetrating obstruction identification surfaces that may pose a hazard to air navigation) and to provide critical data for the safety of aircraft and passengers. The current practice of airborne light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology for airport obstruction surveys is presented. Obstruction survey requirements and current federal standards related to airport airspace analysis and the airport-geographical information system (GIS) program are reviewed. The accuracy of airborne LIDAR surveys and obstruction analysis has been established in previous field studies conducted by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS). Commercial obstruction surveys have been conducted on many airports in North America with LIDAR configurations and survey specifications recommended by NGS. In most cases, LIDAR survey data can be collected efficiently during the day as well as at night. LIDAR point cloud and intensity data are used to identify obstacles for the entire survey area through computationally efficient office computer algorithms and complementary use of photogrammetry. In contrast, traditional photogrammetry-only methods are limited to identifying obstacles at discrete locations because of laborintensive data processing. In addition, LIDAR data can be processed into GIS shape files for seamless integration into an electronic airport layout plan. Multiuse of LIDAR data for both canopy and bare ground enables the generation of accurate digital elevation models, contours for engineering design, and planimetrics for GIS mapping. Mission planning, ground point spacing and density, and other key parameters considered in the latest sample LIDAR survey specifications published as ACRP Research Results Digest 10are discussed.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Transportation Research Record





Publisher Place

Washington, DC, USA


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article