Tag Archives: regulations

Congress Approves 3 Million in Additional UAS Research, Concedes Legislation May Take Longer than 2015

For the optimist, the news of additional funding for UAS integration ensures confidence that the United States is determined to open the skies, sooner rather than later, to commercial drone operations. News, however, that congress is “uncertain when the FAA can integrate UAS into the Nation’s airspace” enables skeptics to roll their eyes at yet another hollow justification of the delays by the government.

Truth be told, “the government is trying to have it’s cake and eat it too.” It’s fantastic that congress recognizes the importance of UAS integration into the Nation’s airspace. But admitting that the FAA may be incapable of fulfilling its duties is does not exactly conjure up positive feelings for those waiting on the sidelines.

Below is an excerpt from 2nd session of the 113th Congress:

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 directed the FAA to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System by 2015. However, it is uncertain when the FAA can integrate UAS into the Nation’s airspace and what will be required to achieve the goal. The lack of an overall framework for the new systems may be inhibiting progress on UAS integration. The Committee is concerned that the FAA may not be well positioned to manage effectively the introduction of UAS in the United States, particularly in light of a recent ruling by a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administrative judge regarding the use of a small UAS for commercial purposes. Given these challenges, the Committee has provided an additional $3,000,000 in the Aviation Safety Activity to expedite the integration of UAS into commercial airspace.

I know cliches aren’t exactly the most professional ways of making a point, but the best thing I could say to end this post is:

Dear FAA and Congress….. Actions speak louder than words.

Link Courtesy of sUAS News 

The Next Generation of Fixed-Wing Drones

firefly6-09

 

A month ago, I posted about an innovative new approach to the design of fixed-wing drones. When I first saw the JUMP, by Arcturus, I was blown away at how such a simple idea could revolutionize the sUAS industry. By combining the vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) capabilities of a multi-rotor with a fixed-wing platform, the failures associated with a conventional “crash-landing” are essentially eliminated.

Lo and behold, it only took a few weeks for me to start and seeing other hybrid systems already on the market. Birds Eye View Aerobotics’ FireFly6 stood out to me because of it’s simplistic design and economical price (about 800 bucks for everything). Check out the video to see how cool this drone is!

So is this new approach going to be adopted throughout the UAS industry? It will be interesting to check back in a year to gauge how many hybrid systems are out there. Considering the pace of progress, and the willingness of UAV manufactures to embrace new ideas, I would say absolutely.

Link Courtesy of Birds Eye View Aerobotics

FAA Eyes Initial Limited Commercial UAS Operations

logoFAAThe increasing potential of small UAS commercial applications continues to push the demand for rules and regulations to new heights. According to Aviation Week, the FAA is working to expedite COA exemptions for the agriculture, film making, pipeline/power-line inspection, and oil-and-gas inspection industries. For good reason, safety is touted as the number one reason that these industries are first in line for such exemptions. Jim Williams, the UAS integration office manager for the FAA, emphasized “exemptions will be for specific limited and low-risk operations.”

In true FAA fashion, however, Williams complicates matters by stating “there will still have to be a certified pilot with specific training for that type of aircraft. We can’t waive that.” So does this mean an individual with a certified pilot’s licence? If this is true, he is basically defining the requirements of the Special Airworthiness Certificate (SAC) which is already in place. In February, I challenged the FAA on the legitimacy of needing a certified pilot for sUAS operations. A justification was not given.

Maybe Williams is referring to a UAS specific pilot certification. Could it be that the FAA is taking the progressive approach of developing this certification in the very near future? This would be a breath of fresh air because it would help establish the beginning foundations of the regulation process.

I hate to sound like a pessimist, but my gut says that is wishful thinking.

Link Courtesy of Aviation Week

Arcturus Introduces Vertical Take Off and Landing Fixed Wing UAS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omkay1cJmXI


Jump
Rohnert Park based Arcturus UAV has introduced an aircraft that combines the long-range benefits of a fixed wing airplane with the take-off and landing capabilities of a multi-rotor. JUMP seems like the perfect platform for those anxious over the “crash landing” technique associated with most fixed wing UAVs.

Link Courtesy of UAS Vision

European Commission Issues Call for Tough Standards to Regulate Civil UAS

European-CommissionSimilar to the United States, many European countries find themselves in a UAS regulation limbo. Unlike the United States, however, most of those countries do not have the FAA scrutinizing the very existence of commercial drones.

The call for comprehensive UAS regulations in the United States has been voiced by everyone in the community, and the FAA has a deadline of September 2015 to appease. A similar universal set of regulations has been proposed for all of Europe by the European Commission. Recognizing the incredible growth potential of the billion dollar industry, the Europeans are trying to collectively establish guidelines by 2016.

“The standards will cover the following areas:”

  • “Strict EU wide rules on safety authorizations.”
  • “Tough controls on privacy and data protection.”
  • “Controls to ensure security.”
  • “A clear framework for liability and insurance.”
  • “Streamlining R&D and supporting new industry.”

Being that each European country operates UAS under it’s own jurisdiction, this is an obvious step in the right direction of bridging the regulation gaps for all of Europe.

The full article can be found here.

Link and photo courtesy of UAS Vision.

 

Engineering Consultants Buy UAS Fleet for Energy Pipeline Inspections

UAS for PipelinesAs applications continue to grow, I wanted to share an article from the the U.K. about engineering firm MACAW using sUAS for pipelines, energy facilities, and other infrastructure.

“The investment in SUAS will enable us to inspect challenging or previously inaccessible locations, such as bridge crossings and wind farms, in an efficient and safe manner.” – Paul Casson, MACAW Principal Engineer 

Link and Photo Courtesy of Bdaily 

Drones Go Mainstream: Highlights from the “60 Minutes” Piece

 

A few weeks ago, “60 Minutes” dedicated an entire story titled Drones Over America highlighting the proliferation of drones in the civilian world. The juxtaposition of veteran Morley Safer (82)  interacting with a technology so virgin yet relevant made for quite an entertaining program. Overall it was an excellent showcase of the technologies growing capabilities, and true to 60 Minutes form, it featured proponents and opponents from both sides of the coin.

Below are some highlights:

  • Domestic drones are poised to become a multibillion dollar industry, revolutionizing everything from crop management to package delivery.
  • For the moment, their barely regulated
  • We’re looking at the future, and whether you like it or not, the future is looking back at us.
  • Sophisticated as they are, an idiot can fly one.
  • Guinn: “Man, I’m not really too sure what I’m going to take aerial photos or video of, but that thing is really cool, and I want one.”
  • Toscano: “We build drones for the 4 D’s: dirty, dangerous, difficult, and dull missions.”
  • The common denominator in the world of most drones is the camera.
  • Cummings: “Using a drone for pictures is no different than using high-powered binoculars or a telephoto lens.”
  • Feinstein: “When does it become stalking? When does it invade privacy?”
  • Cummings: “It’s revolutionizing the aerospace industry in a way not seen in 25 years.”
  • When will a drone be at your front door? Time and technology will wait for no one.