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Grad student earns research award from Federal Aviation Administration

Boris Claros has ideas for how airports can use roadway safety practices to improve the accuracy of their own safety assessments. And, thanks to a prestigious award, he’ll have the chance to take those ideas further.

Boris Claros head shot

Boris Claros, a graduate civil engineering student at MU, recently received a $10,000 research stipend from the Airport Cooperative Research Program Graduate Research Award Program on Public-Sector Aviation Issues to sponsor his research, titled “Enhancing Safety Risk Management with Quantitative Measures,” for the upcoming academic year. File photo.

Claros, a graduate civil engineering student at MU, recently received a $10,000 research stipend from the Airport Cooperative Research Program Graduate Research Award Program on Public-Sector Aviation Issues to sponsor his research, titled “Enhancing Safety Risk Management with Quantitative Measures,” for the upcoming academic year. The Federal Aviation Administration funds the annual program.

“I didn’t know it was that competitive,” Claros said. “I thought I probably got it because there were few submissions and I was just filling out the quota. But when I checked the submissions, I found out it’s pretty competitive. It’s not easy to have, for sure.”

Claros’ project builds on some of his previous work on ways to predict runway incursions, or instances where unauthorized vehicles, aircraft or personnel, are on the runway adversely affecting safety. The current model for predicting the likelihood of such incursions is qualitative and somewhat subjective. Claros is proposing a model that will allow for a specific numerical value to be applied to the likelihood of runway incursions given particular sets of conditions.

“The methodology that they have is just A, B, C,” he said. “Very risky or very improbable it will happen. These new models will be accurate, give you a number of how many runway incursions. It won’t just be categorical the way it is now. It will open the door to be more accurate estimating things in the future.”

The paper Claros and co-authors Tim Cope, Amir Khezerzadeh and Brett Williams put together to earn honorable mention honors at the Airport Cooperative Research Program/Federal Aviation Administration’s University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs recently touched on this. Claros said he’s excited about the opportunity to dig further into the topic.

“What we did previously was to show that it’s possible to do it,” Claros said. “Now, I can get into more detail and further studies to make it more accurate.”

The program is for full-time graduate students working on subjects related to airports and aviation. The research is expected to hit several markers, including being of interest to airport managers, tackling previously unsolved airport and aviation issues, improving airport and airspace performance and addressing wider analytical areas. Claros said he must have an initial draft of the research prepared by October and will be working with two panel members who will check in periodically on his progress.

For Claros, the ACRP GRA program hopefully will be a pathway not only to more refined research, but also publication. The program offers consideration for presentation at the 2017 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting and publication in its journal, Transportation Research Record, and several papers in recent years have appeared in the journal.

“The publication rate is really high, so I’m sure they’re very demanding of the work if they actually publish it,” he said.